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ONLY ON 3: $100,000 Jay Garner report recommends free internet, pharmacy school; Leaves out film, tourism, arts and history

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - The Jay Garner Report, tasked with finding ways to grow the area's economy and recently delivered to New Hanover County and other local leaders, says aircraft assembly, life and marine sciences, high value office operations and precision manufacturing are the keys to making the area more viable for new companies to move here.

That Atlanta-based company has been paid at least $100,000 for the economic feedback.

Specifically, the report recommends:

1) Transforming the area from a predominantly tourist and service economy to one that better leverages economic fundamentals.

2) Reassigning the Wilmington Business Development group and creating and Department of Economic and Community Development.

3) The WBD would then be in charge of creating a three-county micro-marketing alliance between New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties to attract new businesses.

4) Consolidating government services between the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County.

5) Challenging the Chamber of Commerce to create a political institute to recruit and help train business leaders to serve in public office. This idea was in reaction to many in the community who commented that those who serve in local politics now are anti-business.

The report also gave some specific ideas for launching a better economy such as CFCC establishing an airframe and power plant certificate program to work with the Wilmington International Airport. It also said offering free internet to the entire county, but only in 30 minute intervals, would show that the county has embraced technology and supports a mobile workforce. It also advocated for the creation of a local pharmacy school and said the county's very strict special use permit should be undone.

The report made little or no mention of the film industry, the tourism industry (except that leaders should move away from it,) local arts and culture or the region's historic areas.

When the report asked community leaders and other in surveys, however, what the area's strengths were, most cited access to outdoor recreation, historic downtown, the film industry and the tourism industry.

A recent UNCW survey showed that quality of life is the region's biggest asset.

The county plans to respond to the report on April 2 during a special meeting. It says this version is just a draft and is still in the comment period with the steering committee.

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