courthouse-clocktowerHere in New Hanover County, the community, elected officials and county staff cooperate to balance a high quality of life with a progressive business and economic climate.

At less than 200 square miles, New Hanover County is the second smallest – geographically – of the 100 North Carolina counties; however, it is home to more than 225,702 people.

New Hanover County is not just a great place in which to live or visit. New Hanover County is also a great place to do business. Tourism, film production, the service and retail sectors are the engines that power our economy.

Our Mission: New Hanover County is committed to providing equitable opportunities and exceptional public services through good governance to ensure a safe, healthy, secure and thriving community for all.

The government of New Hanover County is committed to ensuring that you are safe, healthy and secure; that is our promise to you.

New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet serves as chief administrator of county government and maintains responsibility for administering all departments under the general control of the five-member Board of Commissioners.

The county manager’s work includes the development of the county’s annual budget. The budget is the policy document, financial plan, and operations guide and communications device of county government. It reflects the county’s response to the needs of the community and residents’ requests for services. New Hanover County’s government is operating on a $458 million multi-fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2022, serving more than 225,000 residents.

In addition, the manager and his executive leadership team are responsible for aligning the operations of the county to the adopted strategic plan and advancing the county’s mission and vision through five key focus areas: superior education and workforce, superior public health and safety, intelligent growth and economic development, strong financial performance, and effective county management.

Mr. Coudriet has served as the county manager since July 2012. Prior to his appointment, he served as assistant county manager for New Hanover County for four years and as county manager in Franklin and Washington counties, N.C. He has more than twenty-five years of public administration experience, with fifteen years as a county manager or assistant county manager in North Carolina. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from East Carolina University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Mr. Coudriet currently serves in several leadership positions with the National Association of Counties (NACo), including vice-chair of the Public Health and Healthy Communities Subcommittee and vice-chair of the Resilient Counties Advisory Board. He is also a member of NACo’s Information Technology Standing Committee and the International Economic Development Committee. Recently, Mr. Coudriet received a Presidential Recognition Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) for his contribution as a member of the opioid settlement working group, also known as the 555 committee, which helped NCACC and the North Carolina Department of Justice to maximize North Carolina’s share of a $26 billion national settlement fund to ensure resources reach communities as quickly, effectively, and directly as possible.

He is a native of eastern North Carolina. Chris and his wife, Leigh, and two children Montgomery and Silas, reside in Wilmington.

New Hanover County’s work is aligned with six shared values: Professionalism, Equity, Integrity, Innovation, Stewardship, and Accountability. The county’s employees consistently exemplify these values and go above and beyond in carrying out the mission to serve the county’s citizens.

Learn more about the county’s mission, vision, and strategy here.

In 2014, New Hanover County commissioned an economic development strategy entitled the Pathways To Prosperity Report by Jay Garner and Associates, which provided a road map to help New Hanover County strengthen the local business climate and assist in increasing the county’s economic competitiveness. Many of the recommendations outlined in the report have been implemented or are underway and helped to inform the county’s 2018 Strategic Plan. In 2021, the Board of Commissioners authorized an update to the report, given the many changes that have occurred since the initial report was developed. The updated Economic Mobility Report by Greenfield, completed in 2022, provides an overview of progress that has been made, current demographics and workforce data, important county assets, key findings, and an overview of the primary and emerging target sectors in New Hanover County.

Learn more and view the reports here »

Manager's Message

A Public Service Profile for Superior Fire Services

Posted September 16, 2022 at 12:18 pm

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet

Recently, New Hanover County Fire Rescue (NHCFR) became an Accredited Agency with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Going through this process was voluntary and something our Fire Rescue team was dedicated to – because they are constantly in pursuit of excellence in service delivery and ensuring continuous improvement and innovation in our county’s fire services. I believe they have attained that excellence, and they continue to show their diligence every day in their incredible service to the community. 

Twenty-five years ago, Fire Services started in the unincorporated area of the county and then 12 years ago the county consolidated from a volunteer fire department into a full-time, county-run department. I believe that pivotal decision has made the department what it is today. With strong leadership and a dedicated and skilled team, New Hanover County Fire Rescue has become a top-rated, fully accredited, and high-achieving fire department that our community should take a lot of pride in.

The accreditation process included a thorough self-assessment and peer review. It took nearly three years to complete and was led by Fire Battalion Chief Jennifer Smith. She worked alongside Chief Donnie Hall, Deputy Chief Matt Davis, Deputy Chief Frank Meyer, and many others in Fire Rescue to ensure the department met the rigorous criteria, assessment data, and overall evaluation. 

I am really grateful to Jennifer for her leadership on this, so for this month’s public service profile, I asked Jennifer about her role, the accreditation process, and what this means for our community. That conversation is below…    

Why did you decide to have a career in fire services and what is your overall role for the department?Battalion Chief Jennifer Smith speaks with Fire Captain Blake Turner at NHCFR Station 17

My experience with the fire service began in high school when I volunteered for the local rescue squad. I found volunteering rewarding and wanted to continue it during college. While at UNCW, I volunteered at Winter Park Fire Department where I received my initial firefighting certifications. During this time, I also completed my Paramedic credential.   

After graduating college, I needed a job. I enjoyed helping other people and making a positive impact on the community. This led me to a job in the fire service while I figured out my future career, but I never imagined that this would become my career. 

I started working with New Hanover County Fire Rescue as a firefighter 23 years ago, and I have worked my way up through the ranks to my current position as a Battalion Chief. I am responsible for the Planning and Administration Division which includes budget, hiring and promotional processes, strategic planning, data analysis, information technology projects and accreditation. In this role, I also serve as the department’s Accreditation Manager.

What went into becoming accredited and what did the process entail?

The accreditation model is a process of continuous improvement. The basis of the process includes developing a strategic plan, identifying and assessing the risks in the community, identify how the department responds to and mitigates those risks, and a comprehensive self-assessment of all the components of the department. The process also includes implementing a continuous improvement framework to evaluate data, develop and implement process and system improvements, and evaluate the impact of those improvements.   

After Fire Rescue submitted its documents, a peer team visited the department to verify and validate the self-assessment and information in the documents. The peer team formulated a recommendation for accreditation as well as recommendations for improvement. Lastly, Fire Rescue appeared before the Commission on Fire Accreditation International where the peer team leader presented the recommendations and findings from their visit. Following comments from fire rescue and questions from the 11-member Commission, they rendered a vote on granting accredited status. 

What were some of the strengths and areas of improvement identified through the process?

During the process, the peer team and commission highlighted our work with Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity to install residential sprinklers in the homes they build. They also spoke highly of our relationship with Wilmington Fire Department. This collaboration between the two organizations enhances the service delivery to the citizens of both the city and county. They also recognized the value of using data from a pilot project to determine the need for a fire station on Gordon Road. Among many other strengths! 

For areas of improvement, the peer team recommended that Fire Rescue incorporate built-in fire protection into the risk assessment and response plans, so our department is working on incorporating this information starting with collecting and verifying building fire protection data. The peer team also recommended that Fire Rescue formalize a wildland fire program, and the department has begun this process by evaluating the wildland fire responses.  

By identifying both strengths and areas for improvement, we will enhance our services and it will continue to make us better. 

What does being accredited mean for our community and why is it important?

Being accredited demonstrates to our community that New Hanover County Fire Rescue is community-focused, data-driven, outcome-focused, strategic-minded, well organized, properly equipped and properly staffed and trained. It is an international recognition of achievement, and we are among a small group of agencies to obtain this status, so our community should feel really proud and know that fire protection in our area is among the best in the world.  

This achievement also establishes that Fire Rescue continually self-assesses, looks for opportunities for improvement, and is transparent and accountable in all that we do – which will now be verified and validated through a third party to maintain our accreditation. Our work and achieving accreditation directly support the county’s commitment to be the model of good governance and to ensure the community is safe, healthy, and secure.   

What are some important takeaways for residents and businesses to help reduce risks?

Residents and businesses need to complete their own risk assessment to identify the potential risks that they face on a daily basis (such as what and where the main fire hazards are in their building, what items are at most risk of burning, and who are the people most at risk). Once those risks have been identified, they can work to help prevent and reduce those risks (such as removing or reducing the main hazards, ensuring an emergency plan is in place that outlines the potential risks and that the right people are trained). Residents should ensure they have working smoke alarms and have practiced an escape plan for their family, since the majority of fires occur in residential buildings. New Hanover County Fire Rescue is always available to help residents and businesses with this process, and you can learn more about our department at

Jennifer’s leadership is moving us forward and I appreciate all she has done, as well as the entire Fire Rescue team, to help NHCFR achieve accreditation. We are now among an elite group of approximately 300 agencies in the world to achieve this status, and I know our community is well protected.

You can read the county’s announcement of this important milestone for Fire Rescue here.

Quarter-cent sales tax for public transportation in New Hanover County

Posted August 18, 2022 at 9:02 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet When ballot boxes open for the upcoming 2022 elections, our community will be asked to answer a question – Is improved mobility and access to … Read More »

A Public Service Profile for Housing Affordability

Posted July 15, 2022 at 11:45 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet New Hanover County is growing. This is an undeniable fact.    And while growth is inevitable, making sure it provides affordable opportunities for an array of … Read More »

Lower taxes, expanded service – a budget committed to helping New Hanover County move forward

Posted June 15, 2022 at 8:55 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet A little more, with a little less. It sounds like an impossible task. But that was the challenge and opportunity presented to New Hanover County … Read More »

A Public Service Profile for Mental Health

Posted May 23, 2022 at 9:06 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet Established in 1949, May is observed as Mental Health Awareness Month across the United States. Here in New Hanover County, mental health continues to be … Read More »