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The 2018 Economic Scorecard in Non-Technical Terms

For the past four years, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce has performed an invaluable service for our Region in providing an Economic Scorecard that compares the Wilmington region to eight similar southern regions and two “Aspirational Regions,” Raleigh and Charleston.

More importantly to those who care about our future and competition, it compares us to the 100% standard, the average of all US regions. The 2018 report shows we compete reasonably well with the selected southern regions, but not well in comparison to the US average. More concerning is that the highest growth areas of the country, typically the “tech hubs” that drive innovation, and attract our “best and brightest”, are growing rapidly, sucking the economic vitality out of other regions.

Our region has actually lost ground in recent years in a number of critical areas, including wages and salaries, productivity, traded sector sales to other regions, and innovative activity measures. These alarming findings must not be glossed over by concluding we are doing well relative to a weak southern tier of cities, when all are at risk in the emergent hyper-competitive environment.

Economists warn that the US is in a continuing “Winner Take All Economy” phase. It presents us with the choice of accepting our possible degradation to a Myrtle Beach-analogous tourism and entertainment centered economy, or to seek to add the diversified strengths of a Raleigh while maintaining our uniquely appealing “Quality of Place”, where we clearly excel. We recommend the Raleigh-diversified strength strategy as our best course to join the “Winners”.

For those who wish to know more, a search for Economic Scorecard 2018 at the Chamber website will access the report. We have also done our own detailed analysis of the Economic Scorecard, and welcome the opportunity to discuss it in depth with interested groups upon request.

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