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Venues & Destinations
Wilmington NC Celebrates Recovery and Progress Ahead of 1-Year Anniversary of Florence
Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, N.C., in September 2018. With the one-year anniversary around the corner, the destination is proud to report not only is it back open for business, but also that development in Wilmington's new Convention District barely missed a beat: The district has seen $426.1 million in investments in the past five years alone, with no signs of slowing down.
Local officials, business owners, residents and volunteers worked hard to quickly get things back up and running following the storm, so much so the destination was able to officially welcome groups back at the end of October. The Wilmington Convention Center, meeting hotels, facilities and venues were already open and eager to host meetings, conventions and sports events following the storm, as were area attractions, restaurants and retailers.
Pendo, a product cloud that provides user insight, user guidance and user communication for digital product teams, chose to host its annual company kick-off meeting in Wilmington in February partly as a result of Hurricane Florence. According to Todd Olson, Pendo CEO and co-founder, the company wanted a destination with hotels, restaurants, venues and activities all located within walking distance. It also needed a city in close proximity to an airport where employees from San Francisco, New York, London, Israel and elsewhere could fly into. Wilmington met all of these criteria. In addition, hosting the event there gave Pendo a way to support the Wilmington community as it recovered from the storm.
"When we did a site visit of the convention center and surrounding businesses after the storm, we saw no reason our event wouldn't be successful there," said Olson. "We sent a survey post event and got overwhelmingly positive feedback on both the content and the location. It was a great planning and attendee experience overall. If anything, employees wished schedules had allowed for even more free time to explore the area and try out more shops and restaurants."
"It was heartwarming to see how everyone came together to help with the post-storm recovery, and we were touched by the support we received from people from around the country that know and love our destination," said Kim Hufham, President and CEO of the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). "While Hurricane Florence will certainly not be a name that will be forgotten anytime soon, we are looking firmly ahead to a very exciting time for Wilmington and Beaches."
Located riverfront and within the city's walkable River District, Wilmington's Convention District is anchored by the Wilmington Convention Center, the largest convention center on North Carolina's coast. A transformation of Wilmington's riverfront is well underway, with recent additions and future transformation coming to the award-winning riverfront and beyond. Post-hurricane openings and future developments in Wilmington and its island beaches include:
- 125-room Aloft Coastline Hotel broke ground in January and is slated to open in mid-2020
- ARRIVE Wilmington, another addition to downtown's historic charm, is a boutique neighborhood hotel with a restaurant and bar that opened its doors earlier this month
- At Wrightsville Beach, renovations and upgrades have been completed at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Holiday Inn Resort and Shell Island Resort
- The Courtyard by Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront, located at Carolina Beach, recently completed a major renovation that included all guestrooms and meeting space
- River Place, a 13-story mixed-use building with retail space overlooking the river, is slated to open later this year
- Located near the convention center, North Waterfront Park will begin construction this year; its outdoor performance space will be managed by Live Nation
- Wilmington International Airport (ILM) offers non-stop flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.; a $60 million airport expansion, underway 2020 through 2022, will see five additional gates, a restaurant, concessions and more added to the terminal
The city's quick recovery and subsequent development have not gone unnoticed: Wilmington was recently selected as one of "The South's Best Cities" by the readers of Southern Living magazine. A walkable downtown with access to shops, cafes and entertainment, all connected by a nearly two-mile Riverwalk, is complemented by three nearby island beaches. A burgeoning River District combines the city's historic charm and rich past with modern design and new attractions, offering planners a fresh possibility to host a meeting in North Carolina and at the coast.
"We feel very fortunate to say Wilmington and our beaches are all open for business, and they are ready for meeting and event attendees to experience the area's renovated and new offerings. We invite meeting and event attendees, athletes and spectators, to discover what makes Wilmington one of 'The South's Best Cities' for themselves," added Hufham.
About Wilmington's Convention District
Wilmington's multiuse Convention District is located riverfront and within the city's walkable River District - all connected by a nearly two-mile scenic Riverwalk that makes it easy for attendees to get around. The Convention District integrates the Wilmington Convention Center - the largest convention center on the North Carolina coast - with the city and its businesses, experts and academic resources. It is currently home to multiple hotels, restaurants and retail, with more under development, plus an event pier, marina and riverfront park, all of which come together to create a campus-like environment for meeting and event attendees. For more information, visit WilmingtonandBeaches.com/Groups-and-Meetings/Convention-District.
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