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UNCW conference focuses on economic recovery, downtown strategies

READ MORE: UNCW conference focuses on economic recovery, downtown strategies
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New numbers suggest our local, state and national economy is making a slow but steady rebound from the great recession. Today, business owners, developers and economists in our area met to discuss the economic forecast and to devise strategies on how to get more folks to live, work and play downtown.

"It's a lot easier to see your neighbors and run into people and be involved and discuss issues when you're in an area where people are walking versus where everyone is sort of driving in and out. There's a lot more community, and you get exposed to a lot of different types of people," Andrew Gray said.

Gray is a downtown business owner, Wilmington Downtown Inc. board member and big advocate for downtown. One of his main reasons for attending the Joint Economic Growth Summit put on by UNCW and Coastal Carolina University was to hear the economic forecast to make more informed business decisions.

"It's stabilized, which means it's not necessarily getting any worse, but that's a big difference in saying it's getting noticeably better," UNCW Senior Economist Woody Hall said.

Hall said the economy is getting better, but it's going to take us a fair amount of time to get back to where we were.

One potential economic development downtown is a baseball stadium. Gray said he needs more information before he can fully step up to the plate.

"I'm very interested in a venue that could be used for more than just baseball, and if that is what it is, then I would be willing to support it with my tax dollars," he said. "I'd also like to know what the impact is personally."

Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender Counties are forecast to grow two percent during this year. That's slightly more than the one-point-seven percent forecast for the state and the same as the national forecast.

Our local economy is forecast to grow 3.2 percent in 2013.

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money on downtown

I don't have any problems with downtown wanting to look nice but I'm getting very tired of that being the only place our city counsel ever wants to fix up. We still don't have sidewalks in many places that this town has owned for at least 40 years but we can keep on spending more and more for that small area that is downtown. This REALLY needs to change! Wilmington is bigger than JUST that few blocks downtown!