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Apr 19, 2023

From Growth to Greatness: Wilmington's Path to Becoming a Breakout City Through Urban Redevelopment

Sponsored Content provided by Natalie English - President & CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

As Wilmington continues to grow and thrive, the potential acquisition of Thermo Fisher Scientific's 12.5-acre campus in northern downtown by the City of Wilmington represents an unprecedented opportunity for the city's future. By continuing to prioritize the redevelopment of our downtown area, Wilmington can create a dynamic, vibrant urban environment that today's top talent craves. This, in turn, can help the city attract and retain the skilled workers it needs to remain competitive in the global economy.
 
The proposed acquisition would bring state-of-the-art facilities to city employees, enabling them to provide better services to the community. Additionally, the property acquisition would lead to new economic and job growth opportunities while meeting the long-term space needs of the City of Wilmington staff in a financially responsible way.
 
In the proposed plan, the City of Wilmington staff would occupy roughly half of the tower, leaving the remaining 50% of the space to be subleased by small to mid-size companies seeking Class-A space in a prime downtown location. This arrangement would create business growth opportunities and help attract other top-tier professional service businesses to the city.
 
The two undeveloped parcels on the Thermo Fisher campus included in the purchase would be resold and made available for future economic development opportunities. New businesses and jobs or residential opportunities could be created as these properties are redeveloped, enhancing Wilmington's overall economic landscape.
 
Another advantage of this acquisition is the 1000-space parking deck on the property that currently goes virtually unused on nights and weekends. By making these spaces available to the public, especially during community events and concerts at Live Oak Bank Amphitheater, the city can alleviate parking challenges for events at Riverfront Park and future development at the north end of downtown.
 
Furthermore, this initiative aligns with the county's redevelopment plan for Project Grace, which aims to redevelop a three-acre county block at Third and Grace Streets to include a new purpose-built public library and modern Cape Fear Museum. This acquisition presents a unique opportunity to stimulate inclusive economic growth and further the city's efforts to create a dynamic urban center.
 
The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce fully supports this initiative and encourages city leaders to move forward with this exciting project. The potential acquisition of Thermo Fisher Scientific's 12.5-acre campus by the City of Wilmington presents an unparalleled opportunity for economic and job growth while also serving as a critical talent attraction strategy for the region. By creating a dynamic, walkable urban environment that offers a mix of employment, housing, entertainment, and other amenities, Wilmington can truly become a world-class breakout city.

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