The Cape Fear Economic Development Council hosted a community conversation in WHQR’s Gallery Space last night.
As WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, five members of a panel presented their views to a standing-room-only crowd on what it would take to create a thriving riverfront in Downtown Wilmington.
Ideas from panelists and attendees on how to enliven Wilmington’s riverfront ran the gamut – from constructing a large performance arts space to creating a legislative structure that supports entrepreneurs rather than hamstrings them.
But the panelists seemed to agree: Wilmington attracts gazelles… small businesses that grow into larger, more successful companies. So the key to an economically vibrant riverfront lies in the City’s ability to lure and keep those gazelles. Expanding recreational opportunities in the area could be one way to do that, according to Philip Prete, the representative of Eagles Island. That’s the small piece of land which sits between the Brunswick and Cape Fear Rivers and is home to the Battleship.
“It’s already a destination for the Battleship. We’d like to see a companion destination that’s not just celebrating the nautical and military history but celebrating what the cultural and natural history is on the Island.”
But because there are so many stakeholders on the Island, Prete says, developing that vision gets complicated. The Cape Fear Economic Development Council plans to host its next Community Conversation in June.