Educational Forums have been at the heart of RWF activities since the founding of its Waterfront Task Force affiliate in 2014. The Wilmington Vision 2020 plan that has guided downtown economic development since 2008 called for a Waterfront Task Force (WFT) of civic leaders to convene, communicate, plan and fund amenities and services for the area. Founders of RWF created WFT as a convened group of leaders in 2014 and conducted regular Forums.. As the need for advocating and funding amenities and services was defined, RWF was incorporated as the necessary umbrella 501c3 and educational Forums have continued.
Educational forums have covered a wide spectrum of subject matter and leadership presentations. Many addressed needs and plans to improve the downtown riverfront, Riverwalk and adjacent street appearance. Other subjects have included parks, historic preservation, museums, educational institutions including UNCW and CFCC, major development projects, regional transportation including rail relocation, trolley, bike trails and bridges, and the airport. Also, activating the Cape Fear River with rowing and boathouse initiatives, improving the tree canopy and Eagles Island preservation and amenities.
Continuing and Expanding the Regional Focus
As RWF has absorbed the Waterfront Task Force audience and activities into a broader regional focus, Cucalorus Connect, IT and tech hub issues, Chamber of Commerce programs and Economic Scorecard, economic development and the “Moonshot” have become the focus of RWF Forums.
Speakers have included representatives of the County Commission, City Council, planning, parks and regional directors and many old and new leaders of the non-profits that affect the quality of life in our region.
Typical attendance has been 35-40 present or recent heads of regional organizations and civic leaders. All meetings have been free and open to the public, but minimally publicized. Recent events have received some publicity and have had 50-75 attendees.
RWF has broadened its Mission to seek Wilmington region-wide collaboration, with the objective of mapping and executing a strategy to build on the Wilmington region base reputation as the “Quality of Life, Quality of Place” leader for North Carolina to create a broadly diversified, tech savvy world-class region. To accomplish this ambitious agenda requires extensive research, followed by region-wide education and collaboration efforts, assembling leadership structures on multiple levels, and finally, by major funding and implementation efforts.
The research phase is well advanced and the education effort began in mid 2018 with several joint public forum co-sponsored by RWF and CFEDC, the economic development public forum sponsor. The events focused on the Moonshot Exponential Strategic Growth Initiative for the Wilmington Region, presented by RWF with added collaboration ideas from seven other key organizations to date (and others to follow).
Plans for Future Educational Events
The new collaborative, regionally focused agenda is just beginning. RWF will initiate some programs and respond to requests from others. Brunswick Community College and Town of Leland representatives have expressed interest in a forum. A joint presentation to the Wilmington Investors Round-table with Chancellor Sartarelli of UNCW keynoting has also been proposed.
Future Budget Considerations
Our expenses will include fees for expert speakers from think tank/university sources, travel costs, rooms, equipment rental/purchase, hand out materials and refreshments.