New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet is on a mission to boost economic diversity in the region.
“Earlier this year, New Hanover County began working on an update to our Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) program to help ensure a higher rate of MWBE participation in all aspects of the county’s contracting and procurement programs, including construction projects, supplies and material purchases, and professional and personal service contracts,” Coudriet recently wrote on the county’s website.
Today the program is in full effect and helping to boost entrepreneurial efforts and economic diversity across the county.
According to the most recent census data from 2012, roughly 40 percent of Wilmington’s 14,935 businesses were either minority-owned (2,022) or women-owned (4,721). With top local officials advocating as they are, the hope is that those numbers have steadily increased over the last seven years.
“New Hanover County is a key player in those advocacy discussions and, with the support of our commissioners, we are working on ways to help make our community more inclusive and more welcoming to diverse workers and businesses,” Coudriet wrote. “Improving the MWBE program is one of the most important initiatives we’ve launched for this effort.”
In Fiscal Year 2019, the county spent $6,430,000 of its $79,250,000 budget on minority businesses.
“I look forward to seeing a noticeable increase in that number in the years ahead,” Coudriet said. “As New Hanover County works to increase the diversity and number of higher-wage jobs throughout the county, we believe these policy and procedure enhancements will be important to support business growth and economic diversity in New Hanover County.”