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Chamber Hosts InterCity Visit to Charleston, SC

37 area business leaders and elected officials have returned from a two-day InterCity Leadership Visit to Charleston, SC, organized by the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, with numerous takeaways on how Charleston has encouraged economic development while retaining quality of place and increasing tourism. The Wilmington Chamber organized the trip to introduce the local delegation to innovative ideas, programs and initiatives which may be adapted and implemented in our community, as well as build relationships among our delegation attendees, resulting in a more cohesive team working on behalf of our community.

The trip took place September 21-22, and focused on four main areas: development, industry, quality of place, and tourism. Panel discussions featuring Charleston business and civic leaders addressed topics such as sustainability, industrial growth, job recruitment, density/sprawl, infrastructure (congestion/traffic), and historic preservation.

The InterCity Leadership Visit was an excellent opportunity for our area decision makers and stakeholders to learn firsthand from a community that is continually lauded for its innovative development partnerships, historic preservation, ability to attract some of the world’s-best industry employers, and tourism…all while maintaining an amazing quality of place. We were very pleased with the interest shown by our area business and elected leaders in participating in the trip, and with the quality of speakers from Charleston, as well as their insights.

A few of the broad takeaways from the presentations, panel discussions, and walking tour of downtown Charleston included:

  • Importance of a strategic and targeted economic development plan
  • Cooperation among all groups is the key to development and preservation
  • The importance of public/private collaboration
  • Regionalism is a must for metro success and attracting jobs
  • High quality public spaces are worth the investment
  • Urban density is appropriate where there is infrastructure to support it
  • State support for local government in recruiting jobs is a must
  • Plan for the next 100 years, not short term
  • The power of local taxing authority being granted by the state of South Carolina.

Guest speakers and panelists from Charleston that made presentations and took part in panel discussions included:

  • Perry (Keith) Waring, Mayor Pro-Tem, Charleston City Council
  • Lindsay Leonard, Senior Director, National Strategy and Engagement, The Boeing Company
  • David Ginn, President & CEO, Charleston Regional Development Alliance
  • Brian Derreberry, President & CEO, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Jacob Lindsey, Planning Director, City of Charleston
  • Dana Beach, Executive Director, Coastal Conservation League
  • Helen Hill, Executive Director, Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Kevin Kampwerth, Director of Marketing & Creative, SC Aquarium
  • Dave Echols, General Manager, Charleston Riverdogs
  • Dan Doyle, VP Development, The Beach Company
  • Michael Maher, CEO, Horizon Project Foundation
  • Ken Seeger, President of Land and Development, West Rock Land and Development
  • Robert Clement, President, CC&T Real Estate Services
  • Peter Fennelly, Market President, Colliers International
  • John Osborne, Co-Founder, The Harbor Entrepreneur Center
  • Sally Ehrenfried, Manager of Philanthropy and Volunteer Engagement, Blackbaud, Inc.