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 232,000 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 progressive public policy, superior service, courteous contact, judicious exercise of authority, and sound fiscal management to meet the needs and concerns of our citizens today and tomorrow.

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 $399.6 million multi-fund budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2020 and ends June 30, 2021. In addition, the county also administers $294 million in state and federal funding. Through this $693 million, the county serves more than 233,000 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.

Mr. Coudriet has twenty-five years of public administration experience, with fifteen years as a county manager or assistant county manager in North Carolina. He has 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.

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 five shared values: Professionalism, 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.

New Hanover County has received the final economic development target analysis report from Jay Garner titled Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment and it’s critical companion piece, the Competitive Realties Report.

Manager's Message

Smoking and Vaping Ordinance Good for Health and Business

Posted January 20, 2021 at 8:30 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet

In October, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to implement an ordinance prohibiting the use of combustible tobacco and e-cigarettes in public places starting February 1, 2021. This is the most progressive smoking and vaping rule in North Carolina that we are aware of.

It addresses the growing impact of e-cigarette use and aligns regulation with expectations and the social norms of vaping in public places; and it limits exposure to second-hand smoke and vapor in our community.

As business owners, residents in New Hanover County, and community leaders, it’s important that you are informed about what this new ordinance is, so I’ve provided a brief overview for you below.

The ordinance expands the prohibition of combustible tobacco like cigarettes and cigars, as well as e-cigarettes to county, town and city buildings, vehicles and grounds, and in public places in the county like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. This may seem like nothing new, but in fact, state law does not address smoking in most indoor establishments like retail shops and entertainment venues, and state law doesn’t address e-cigarette use at all.

We have all seen how vaping has increased over the past decade, especially among young people. In 2017, 4.6 percent of adults and 22.1 percent of high school students in North Carolina used electronic vapor products. With evolving research showing aerosols produced by e-cigarettes contain heavy metals and toxins, the County Commission felt it an obligation to do what we can to put protections in place for our residents and visitors, and take rule-making and enforcement off the shoulders of our businesses.

Designated areas for smoking and vaping are still an option along with several exceptions, and specifics on the ordinance and where smoking and vaping will not be permitted is available at Health.NHCgov.com.

The new smoking and vaping ordinance comes after more than a year of work by our Health and Human Services staff and board, working with business owners, community members and municipal partners, to ensure this rule meets the goal of comprehensive public health policy while being manageable from an implementation and enforcement standpoint.

Over the course of three public comment periods we heard from a number of business owners and community members both supportive, and with concerns around the impact this rule would have on their local business and the economy.

In partnership with the business community, our team made changes to the rule, like removing reference to roads and sidewalks, to help ensure businesses would not be responsible for actions of residents outside of their establishment.

We also took a look at the 2009-2010 implementation of the NC Smoke Free Restaurants and Bars Law, and confirmed that no adverse economic impact, or impact to restaurant and bar employment or sales took place. In fact, some places saw an increase in sales because non-smokers are not being exposed to second hand smoke inside establishments. However, in absence of this rule, vaping is technically allowed anywhere, so there are still instances of discomfort among customers, but no pathway to resolution unless a business owner decides to enforce a company policy themselves.

This ordinance takes this responsibility from business owners, and exceptions laid out in the rule like the allowance for smoking and vaping in therapeutic settings, private clubs, theatre and movie sets and other areas ensure industry and business operations continue to move forward.

What we also saw from the NC Smoke Free Restaurants and Bars Law evaluation was a profound impact on health and wellbeing across the state and savings of nearly $4.7 million per year in avoidable medical care costs for hospitality workers. By taking this action locally, we are setting our residents and visitors up for healthier experiences across the community.

Currently, our Public Health team is meeting with leaders and organizations to share information about this ordinance. You will begin to see signs around the county indicating that smoking and vaping is either prohibited or permitted in a designated area. Materials will also be made available to download and display in establishments if desired.

I commend Board of Commissioners, Health and Human Services Board, and our staff for taking this assertive public health approach to protect people from known and unknown effects of second hand smoking and e-cigarette vapors. Again, New Hanover County is a leader in proactive policy.


Health of residents was county focus in 2020

Posted December 21, 2020 at 8:25 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet New Hanover County is committed to keeping our community safe, healthy and secure.   In 2020, that commitment was even more profound as the county and our … Read More »


Smart, Responsible Development is key for New Hanover County

Posted November 12, 2020 at 8:35 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet New Hanover County is changing. Our population is growing, the needs of residents to be more connected and have different housing options is evolving, and … Read More »


Embarking on the county’s first Master Aging Plan for a healthier, purposeful future

Posted October 19, 2020 at 8:28 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet Older adults are living longer, healthier and more productive lives. I’m glad, especially since my 50th birthday is right around the corner. My mom is 70, and she remains active … Read More »


Share your feedback, perceptions about workforce housing and housing affordability

Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:30 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet When you hear the term “housing affordability” – what comes to your mind? Some equate it to lower income or subsidized housing, others see it … Read More »