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Shooting For Par on the Economic Development Course

Some of the world’s best golfers will descend on Wilmington in just under three weeks for the Wells Fargo Golf Championship. The event at Eagle Point Golf Club is projected to drive millions of dollars into the local economy and millions of TV viewers for the tournament. It’s prompted a new marketing initiative for the Cape Fear Region, but its focus is not on tourism. It's economic development. 

When the PGA announced that for 2017, the Wells Fargo Championship would move from Charlotte to Wilmington, Scott Satterfield got excited.

“This is a once in a lifetime event. You think of all the communities that would love to have this event.”

Satterfield is the CEO of Wilmington Business Development. Since 1956, they have focused on attracting business to the Cape Fear Region. He says economic development is a competitive business, and having a PGA event dropped in the lap of Wilmington can open some development doors.

“We think it’s just a really solid opportunity for this part of the world to show the rest of the world, just how great we are and how great a place this is to live, work and do business.” 

The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce agreed, so last year began work on an economic development marketing initiative. Rather than keep it local, Chamber president and CEO Natalie English says they decided to open the umbrella.

“We’ve brought together 14 different economic development organizations led by the chamber, with the assistance of Eckel & Vaughn to develop a campaign, a lot of focus groups and discussions, to come to the theme of Choose Cape Fear.”

“Since we’re talking about four different counties – Brunswick, Pender, Columbus and New Hanover – the theme brings us together as a region.”

Eckel & Vaughn is a Raleigh-based strategic communications agency.

“It’s an image, we’ve created a description of who we are, and that folks should want to be here because there is opportunity to discover. For as long as this regional brand works, we’ll continue to use it. We’ve created videos and video vignettes that describe the assets of the region, that all of the economic developers can use. We’ve created collateral materials so they can include that information when they are going to trade shows or to recruit specific industry it’s there – they don’t have to recreate it.”  

The hope is that some of those collateral materials and videos end up on CBS Sports during the tournament.

“This may be the catalyst to the future, a continuum, of the efforts we have started with this particular event.”

That’s Glenda Browning, director of the Leland Tourism Development Authority.

“This tournament will affect the entire region, being so close to all of us. It will help us learn to pull off bigger events together in the future. Show the world that we can host big events, and work together for the area.”

Footing the bill for this marketing program is the Wilmington Chamber, New Hanover County, the City of Wilmington, and Columbus County, so far.

After the last putt drops in at the Wells Fargo Championship, the plan is to use all the new materials at trade shows, site selection meetings, and economic development events to attract new and relocating businesses to the area.

But don’t expect it to happen right away. Like playing four rounds of golf, the economic development business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Again Scott Satterfield of WBD.

“You are constantly sowing the ground. Keeping the soil turned and fertile. And that is the way of this business. It is a patience that some of us have to learn to accept but it’s a fact. You never know when a relationship you are building today, what can happen with that four or five years down the road. The more hands you touch the more people you tell the story to, the better off this community is going to be long term.”

Visit the new Choose Cape Fear website 

Learn more about the Wells Fargo Championship, scheduled for May 1 - May 7 in Wilmington