Improving Business in the Wilmington Region

Target Industries

Success Breeds Success

With our large, growing talent base and wide range of modern economic assets, Greater Wilmington is able to welcome a diverse array of 21st century businesses and industries. Those sectors that flourish here and continue to be targeted by Wilmington Business Development include:


The presence of high-growth companies such as nCino, Live Oak Bank and Apiture highlight our region’s viability for technology-oriented financial enterprises. Greater Wilmington’s popularity among young, mobile workers spurs the talent that drives these cutting-edge businesses, which are also supported by innovative curricula and engaged faculty at Cape Fear Community College and UNC Wilmington’s Cameron School of Business.

Distribution and Logistics

Significant recent investments into Greater Wilmington’s network of multi-modal transportation systems make our region an exceptional destination for distribution, logistics and warehousing operations. The Port of Wilmington, Class A rail service and broad highways facilitate reliable links between “Port City” companies and lucrative markets across the mid-Atlantic and around the world. These assets — along with affordable real estate, advanced digital infrastructure and well-trained workers — yield fertile ground for companies ranging from FedEx Freight and Empire Distributors to Fine Fixtures and Coastal Beverage Company. Competitive advantages for this sector include interstates and highways, the Port of Wilmington, railroad infrastructure, air service, etc.

Food Processing

Proximity to vast agricultural and ocean-based resources help make Greater Wilmington the ideal backdrop for contemporary manufacturers of food and beverage products. New York City-based Acme Smoked Fish is among the names operating in the region, taking advantage of Greater Wilmington’s modest business costs, supply-chain access and supportive governments to grow a $30 million production facility here. Quality utility services, including abundant water and wastewater infrastructure, help support food and beverage makers as they respond to changes in consumer tastes and emerging market opportunities.


One could argue that there is no larger, more successful industry leader in Aviation than GE which currently is listed at #18 on the Fortune 500. GE Aerospace has had a long, successful track record in Wilmington. GE Aerospace currently produces components for numerous aircraft engines to include the new GEnx which powers the new 787 Dreamliner. The 600+ employees at the plant currently develop, manufacture and ship 55 different aircraft engine components and serve more than 250 airlines. GE’s steady, consistent history in the area exemplifies the regions ability to sustain a top ranked aviation company while providing GE with the ability to recruit talented individuals to relocate to the high livability area.

Customized industry training programs are currently available at Cape Fear Community College to provide a trained workforce for GE. Further training and curriculum can be made available to suit any aviation industrial and/or manufacturing need primarily within the field of CNC Machining, Welding, etc. Due to the fact that more than 89.5% (161,000) of the 25+ year old population have a High School degree or higher and 36% (65,000) have a Bachelors Degree or higher, finding an educated, trainable workforce is not an issue.


In what seemed to be overnight fashion, Wilmington has become a hotspot for Contract Research Organizations (CRO) beginning with the founding and explosive growth of Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) (recently acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific) and Alcami. And with both Bachelor and Masters programs available at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington for Clinical Research and Product development, a trained knowledgeable workforce is at your fingertips.

Of course great business synergy creates opportunities, and the Wilmington region has had numerous other CRO’s either organically grow here or relocate here from all corners of the globe. Estimates put the cost of developing and bringing a drug to market at over $1.3 billion. As drug development may take as long as 15 years, major pharmaceutical marketers continue to outsource stages of development, creating growing demand for Contract Research Organizations (CROs). A key cost driver during the expensive clinical trial phase is the large number of failures. Driven by pressures to reduce costs, companies are increasingly implementing outsourcing strategies to increase revenues through faster drug development.

Call Centers / Customer Contact Center / Back Office

Home to a 1,200+ employee Financial Services Customer Contact Center for Verizon Wireless (VzW), Wilmington has definite street credibility when it comes to recruiting call centers. From Verizon to Castle Branch to MegaCorp –the readily available, educated and underemployed workforce still remains the main reason Call Centers work in this sub regional market.

When VzW chose to locate to Wilmington in 2004, Cape Fear Community College immediately created a specific training program geared towards getting all 1,200 future employees trained within a short window of time (less than 6 months) so that there was a trained workforce ready for work on day 1. Also, due to the fact that more than 89.5% (161,000) of the 25+ year old population have a High School degree or higher and 36% (65,000) have a Bachelors Degree or higher, finding an educated, trainable workforce is not an issue.

Advanced Manufacturing

Today’s manufacturing industry is more technologically advanced than ever before. It’s also incredibly competitive and increasingly global, and as a result, more open to collaboration. New Hanover and Pender County’s proximity to world-renowned research universities, multi-modal transportation facilities, and a highly skilled workforce make it a center for this sector. From Corning and GE to recent successes like National Gypsum and G-Code, the Cape Fear Region has proven time and again that it can and will accommodate the most advanced manufacturing companies.