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Posted on: January 23, 2023

New Hanover County sees progress, successes at end of five-year strategic plan

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – At Monday’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners received a report out of the county's 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, which has helped to guide the work of the county’s 2,000 employees over the past five years. This is the second strategic plan for the county, with the first beginning in 2012.  

“Because of the board’s strategy, we have been able to remain focused on the long-term goals of our community while remaining agile and flexible so that we can respond to the dynamic circumstances over the past five years,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “Since the plan was adopted, our community has gone through a lot of changes, including a devastating hurricane and global pandemic, and placed a greater focus on equity and intentional healing. Throughout it all, our employees have led the way and real progress has been made together with our community partners, residents, and businesses.” 

The 2018-2023 Strategic Plan report, which can be viewed here, shares accomplishments and measures within the plan’s three main priorities: intelligent growth and economic development, superior education and workforce, and superior public health and safety. Some of those highlights are also featured below: 

Intelligent Growth and Economic Development 

  • Provided $300,000 of incentives to create and maintain 465 new jobs. And committed an additional $1.9 million of incentives to create 1,064 new jobs and millions in private capital investment.  
  • Updated the county’s zoning ordinance and focused on water and sewer investments to support mixed-use development needed to establish complete communities. 
  • Allocated $15 million over a five-year period to help increase workforce housing stock.  
  • Constructed multi-use trails that provide connections to Ogden Elementary School and neighborhoods in the Middle Sound Loop area, with trails underway on North College Road and South College Road. 

Superior Education & Workforce  

  • Established and funded 12 new pre-k classrooms that have served an additional 450 three and four-year-old students.  
  • Supported teachers with increased county salary supplement and bonuses, housing and professional development incentives, and classroom support through volunteers.  
  • Expanded school based mental health – providing a total of 35 mental health experts to help address the needs of students.  
  • Established wrap-around support for families through Port City United and other community building initiatives
  • Provided free community wi-fi access points throughout the county. 

Superior Public Health and Safety 

  • Led public health measures and protections throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Developed a community-led Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Strategy to guide the strategic investments of the county’s $18 million opioid settlement funds and $50 million Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder fund established by Commissioners.  
  • Constructed The Healing Place, a peer-led, long-term residential drug and alcohol recovery facility. 
  • Developed a partnership with the Northside Food Co-op to build a grocery store in a downtown food desert.  
  • Fire Rescue earned international accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) for first-class fire services. 

Over the past five years, New Hanover County has also led with good governance, maintained a double triple-A bond rating, established two new departments – Diversity and Equity and Port City United – to be a voice and advocate for residents, implemented a Master Aging Plan, consolidated Social Services and Public Health into Health and Human Services to better serve our customers, streamlined operations to expedite the online permitting process, received 39 national innovation awards, among many other important efforts.   

“We have come out stronger as a county over the past five years having a well-thought-out and fully implemented strategic plan. It has led to economic growth, a safer and more supported community, and provided a real foundation for our kids to succeed,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Bill Rivenbark. “And now the board will undertake another strategic planning process to map out the county’s priorities and goals over the next five years, so we have a clear sense and direction of what we want and need to accomplish. That will include planning sessions with Commissioners, stakeholder conversations, and public feedback opportunities – all to help us create a new strategic plan and guide for New Hanover County.” 

The community will be informed of public engagement opportunities over the coming months to contribute feedback toward the strategic priorities of the county. It is expected that a new strategic plan will be adopted by the Board of Commissioners in June of this year. 

The new strategic plan will then guide the work and investments of the county through each annual budget. The plan will also directly influence the efforts of the New Hanover Community Endowment, which is required to fund initiatives that support and further the county’s adopted strategic plan.  

“That alone makes the county’s strategic plan an important guide, to help ensure needed resources are deployed into our community for real and transformational change,” said Coudriet.

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