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

Three years into the county’s five-year Strategic Plan

Posted February 16, 2021 at 8:16 am
February 16, 2021

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet

New Hanover County is now at the three-year mark of the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. We’re making progress on our goals, seeing areas where improvement is needed – especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continuing our work every day to advance the Board of Commissioners and county’s priorities of intelligent growth and economic development, superior education and workforce, and superior public health and safety.

We wanted to provide an update of where we are today at this three-year mark, the progress we’ve made and the work we still have to do in the coming years. To do that, I have included an overview below from the county’s Chief Strategy Officer Jennifer Rigby, and you can see a visual depiction of year three in our five-year plan here:

As we reflect on the county’s strategic plan, goals and where we stand with reaching our goals, one of the major impacts to our community this past year has been the global pandemic from the Coronavirus, COVID-19. In March, the Governor of North Carolina issued “stay-at-home orders” that dramatically impacted every business and resident of North Carolina. These orders closed businesses and schools to in-person services and converted the business and education sectors to a virtual platform overnight. Our organization responded with resilience and quickly used data to guide decision making through these turbulent times. As with all challenging times come opportunities for creativity and innovation, and New Hanover County was able to double down on strategic priorities with a different perspective of focus on how to accomplish our clearly defined outcomes and targets utilizing new CARES Act funding resources. The employees in our organization continue to inspire me with their commitment to public service, coupled with the agility and flexibility that create innovative solutions to the most demanding pressures.

Intelligent Growth and Economic Development

The economic impact of COVID-19 was felt across the world. Like many communities, New Hanover County experienced losses in employment as businesses were grappling with how to radically change business operations. Specifically, we saw a loss in advanced manufacturing, knowledge sector, and skilled trades jobs. However, we still remain up 1,277 net new jobs since 2018.  

To retain jobs and support our businesses, the New Hanover County Board of County Commissioners authorized an unprecedented $1.3 million small business grant program utilizing CARES Act funding to assist 130 small businesses with $10,000 grants. These grants were specifically designed for retaining employees and incorporating hygiene and safety measures into business practices.

Despite job losses, New Hanover County experienced two positive economic indicators: the number of jobs that are paying 6.5% above the living wage has grown and our tax base grew almost $100 million this past year, meaning that individuals’ income is increasing and property values are increasing. As individuals across the country prioritize their quality of life, they are choosing New Hanover County to call home. This past year alone, we saw a population increase of more than 3,700 new residents and we anticipate that will continue.

As our county grows, we are seeing growth in our goal of creating complete communities. Complete Communities provide a range of housing sizes, employment opportunities, convenience needs, community facilities, and support services to provide access and opportunity to all New Hanover County citizens. This past year, we experienced a 2% growth in completeness within 1-mile of homes and a 1% increase in our housing-type diversity rate. We are making steady progress towards increasing elements of complete communities and we are ensuring that our residents have the facilities and services they need in close proximity to their homes. We are also working towards housing affordability with a new Housing Study that will be finalized soon. Additionally, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners also authorized more than $400,000 of CARES Act funding to create a Housing Assistance Program to support individuals and households that experienced an economic hardship due to the COVID -19 pandemic.

Superior Education and Workforce

Due to the global pandemic, in 2020, the Governor ordered schools to close – moving students to a remote environment and leaving end-of-grade testing and kindergarten readiness testing obsolete. To provide families with alternative resource-rich environments for children, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners authorized more than $800,000 of CARES Act funding to child care assistance from licensed facilities in New Hanover County.

In spite of the challenges our community experienced with remote environments, we were able to accelerate digital access and literacy that enhance our workforce skills. Our learning express library usage was up 1,149 views this past year. Additionally, through CARES Act funding, New Hanover County was able to boost the Wi-Fi signal at our public facilities to create free community Wi-Fi zones at our public facilities – increasing free Wi-Fi access to 13,498 more residents within a quarter mile of a county public Wi-Fi access point.  Moving forward, the county is working through a strategic partnership with the school system and local businesses to add addition free Wi-Fi sites.

Superior Public Health and Safety

Preventing and reducing opioid abuse is a strategic priority for New Hanover County and while we have made gains with decreasing overdoses, we are beginning to see the trend move in the wrong direction. Certainly, this can be attributed to the COVID 19 pandemic and we will want to make sure our efforts are supporting strong mental health during these challenging times. The county is in the process of building the Healing Place facility, a peer-led substance use facility, which will aid in these efforts and a $50 million Mental and Behavioral Health Fund will be set up in 2021 utilizing a portion of proceeds from the sale of NHRMC, the county-owned hospital. These efforts, along with other initiatives, will help support this strategic priority.

Another priority is reducing obesity, which has been identified as one of the risk factors associated with the COVID 19 virus, further magnifying the importance of ensuring that residents have access to programs that prevent and reduce obesity, specifically in our marginalized communities. In an effort to increase awareness and access to programs and opportunities that promote healthy eating and exercise, the county was able to utilize CARES Act funds to better serve our citizens with nearly 154,000 customer interactions – which includes diabetes and community outreach, home delivered meals, a student fitness challenge, and Women Infants and Children (WIC) participants – reaching our citizens from our youngest to our oldest.

In terms of preparing for and responding to public safety demands, we experienced a significant decrease in 911 calls per capita; which is attributed primarily to stay-at-home orders. Finally, we continue to see progress towards responding to emergency calls within the 2019 90th percentile which translates to a response time quicker than 10 minutes and 35 seconds.

As we move into 2021, we can feel proud of the work the organization has done to pivot and use new resources during an extraordinary time to accomplish our vision of being a vibrant, prosperous, diverse coastal community committed to building a sustainable future for generations to come. We know that education and job creation will be important areas for us to focus our efforts, and we intend to use this data to ensure that New Hanover County will be the community our vision sets out to accomplish.

I invite you to see the full report at

Smoking and Vaping Ordinance Good for Health and Business

Posted January 20, 2021 at 8:30 am

January 20, 2021 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 … Read More »

Health of residents was county focus in 2020

Posted December 21, 2020 at 8:25 am

December 21, 2020 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 … Read More »

Smart, Responsible Development is key for New Hanover County

Posted November 12, 2020 at 8:35 am

November 12, 2020 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 … Read More »

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

Posted October 19, 2020 at 8:28 am

October 19, 2020 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 … Read More »