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Regional Economic Development Council Shuts Down

By Cece Nunn, posted May 14, 2021

The Cape Fear Economic Development Council, a nonprofit organization that advocated for a shared economic development vision for the region, shut down Friday.

“The 12-year-old organization was founded to provide a platform for the citizens of southeastern North Carolina who felt their commitment to the environmental sustainability of the region was not being addressed by the economic development organizations in the area,” a CFEDC news release stated. “The all-volunteer organization found itself lacking in resources to continue, due primarily to alternate drains on volunteers’ time and accessibility.”

COVID-19 curtailed CFEDC’s meetings, including public meetings that had been held three to four times a year, said Clark Henry, a member of the organization’s board.

“The Cape Fear Region is one of the best places on Earth to live, work, and play,” Henry said in the release. “That’s why the Cape Fear Economic Development Council has spent the past 12 years bringing critical topics to the forefront, even with virtually no operating budget. 

“It has been our honor to advocate for a continued high quality of life by advancing the concept of sustainable economic development. It resulted in many wonderful relationships, the advancement of important topics, and allowed us to host many memorable events.”

CFEDC had an email distribution list of several hundred people, Henry said.

He said he believes the council’s mission is far from accomplished.

“I think that there’s still a lot of work to be done in the realm of economic development in the Cape Fear Region. We don’t have an economic development strategy; we need one. We don’t have a vision for what our economic development is and we don’t have a comprehensive approach … that’s across the public and private sector,” Henry said.

As a result, he said, “this was really a painstaking decision. CFEDC was the only organization that was talking about [environmental and social] sustainability in the context of economic development, and we hope that that does not go away in public dialogue. We would very much welcome other people and organizations to take up the mantle.”

The council's remaining funds will be donated to Cape Fear Collective, and the N.C. Business Council, whose work is directly aligned with CFEDCs mission, the release stated.

CFEDC plans to host a final gathering in September, with details to be announced later.

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