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

New Hanover County Supports Job Growth, Economic Development

Posted April 19, 2018 at 9:18 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet

Economic development incentives are an important aspect of New Hanover County’s strategy to encourage the private sector to grow, create jobs, invest in our community and strengthen our tax base.

According to Senior Economist Timothy J. Bartik of the W.E. Upjohn Institute, over the past quarter century, state and local business tax incentives to promote economic development have tripled in size. That can clearly be seen around the country, especially in the recent incentives (that total in the billions) being offered to lure Amazon to U.S. cities.

While New Hanover County may not be primed for a company the size of Amazon right now, we are ready for private investment, new businesses and more jobs.

The Cape Fear area has more than 200,000 skilled workers, with nearly 30 percent of the workforce having a four-year degree or higher. The people who live here are poised for better job opportunities, and a strategic priority of the Board of Commissioners is to increase the diversity and number of higher wage jobs. Economic development incentives are one way that the county can accomplish that goal.

At the Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, April 2, commissioners approved a $350,000 economic development incentive grant to help bring National Gypsum, a drywall plant, back to our area. This grant would be paid out over five years ($70,000 each year), based on the company’s actual performance and ability to meet financial and job-growth milestones.

If Wilmington is selected, National Gypsum would invest more than $25 million in capital improvements and bring at least 51 new jobs with average wages over $57,000 to our community. Jobs with the company vary – from administrative, technical and leadership positions – so there would be a diverse range of jobs available for our residents.

The county’s incentive grant, along with a separate grant approved by the Wilmington City Council, help to make New Hanover County an appealing and competitive option for the company.

The decision to offer this incentive grant was not made quickly or without careful research. New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington worked closely with Wilmington Business Development to build an incentive model that blends real and business personal property investment with job numbers and wage value. An economic impact assessment was also conducted to determine induced benefits of National Gypsum’s operations.

The analysis shows a positive cash flow return for our community each year, with an increase in property tax revenue starting in the very first year of operations. That is a significant and immediate return.

While there has been tremendous business support for this investment, community concerns were also raised about any potential health effects from the company’s air emissions – particularly formaldehyde. That’s why commissioners decided to table the item in February to learn more and allow for additional research.

I commend our commissioners and the county’s public health director for their diligence in understanding potential health effects related to the company’s operations. They explored all citizen concerns and received expert information to understand the company’s operations, potential air emissions and DEQ’s permit process.

DEQ’s permit allowances are driven by public health protections, and that – coupled with the science presented – led public health experts to determine there is no health concern with the operation of this facility in our community. I appreciate the time that the board and public health director took to thoroughly research this and keep the focus on the health of our citizens.

Offering incentive grants to the private sector must be a community conversation, and I am glad that our citizens joined the conversation, so that we could all be more informed and educated.

As a result of those public conversations, commissioners asked that National Gypsum conduct new emissions testing within one year of reopening, and the company agreed to this as a condition in the incentive grant.

I do feel that National Gypsum – a business that has been researched and is merited – would be a welcome asset to New Hanover County and a good community partner. The company would grow our tax base, increase the number of well-paying jobs, and bring more manufacturing jobs to the community that make traded sector products. It fits directly into the county’s five-year strategic plan, and I hope the company chooses to reopen their operation in Wilmington.

Strategic economic investments like this will help our community grow and thrive. It will ensure that New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington remain competitive with other communities across the country. And it will help create a more sustainable environment for private investment that will lead to greater success for individuals and families in our region.


Manager’s Message: Social Workers Advocate, Support and Encourage

Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:08 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet March is National Social Worker Month, and New Hanover County has an incredible team of social workers that serve our community every day. Their compassion, … Read More »


Manager’s Message: Advancing New Hanover County’s Strategic Priorities

Posted February 22, 2018 at 10:18 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet The need to plan for the county’s future, to create a road map for setting measurable targets and achieving them, is the basis for New … Read More »


Manager’s Message: Advancing Our Success into 2018

Posted January 19, 2018 at 10:44 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet New Hanover County had a good 2017, and I am looking forward to another productive year in 2018. I am confident the county will continue … Read More »


Change Agents on a Mission

Posted December 22, 2017 at 9:13 am

It is the end of 2017 and I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for the more than 1,700 dedicated county employees who work hard, serve our citizens … Read More »