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CoastLine: Regional Economic Development and the Special Use Permit

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Economic development is the way municipalities, counties, states, and nations improve the quality of life for its citizens.  Economic growth is one element and can be a metric for measuring that.  In pursuit that growth, communities often lay out a blueprint – a vision – that details how they would like to see that growth unfold. 

New Hanover County, in service of defining its vision, has been working on a revision of its Special Use Permit, a gatekeeper, essentially, that allows county officials to decide which businesses will be allowed to located and / or expand within its boundaries.  This has been a controversial process, to put it mildly.  Earlier this week, the county board postponed a public hearing on its Special Use Permit in order for more stakeholders to feel comfortable with the way the process was moving forward.

On this edition of CoastLine, we talk about that process, and specifically the Special Use Permit, but we also learn about other ways area leaders are strategizing to facilitate the responsible growth of the region as a whole. 


  • Craig Galbraith, economist and the Director of the Office of Innovation and Commercialization at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington
  • Beth Schrader, Chief Strategy and Budget Officer for New Hanover County
  • Mike Hargett, Director for Economic Development and Planning for Brunswick County. 
Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.