Is Wilmington, NC the Next Silicon Valley? a Biz EXPO Recap

 Southeastern North Carolina’s largest business-to-business expo and conference was held last Wednesday.  The event was hosted by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, who in their March publication awarded EDA Surf with the first annual MADE prize for outstanding business and service in the arts.  This honor came with excellent free media in the GMBJ and an all-inclusive pass to the event complete with complimentary Expo booth space and tickets to the exclusive ‘Power Lunch’ with guest speaker Live Oak Bank CEO and 2015 EDA Surf’s #1 Customer, Chip Mahan.  

Live Oak Bank CEO Chip Mahan at the EDA Surf Expo Booth.

In Mr. Mahan’s talk he touched on many topics, but the one that resonated most with me (and I’m sure many others in the 500 seat hall), was the strong economic trajectory now taking hold in Southeastern North Carolina.  With a pristine natural environment, a highly educated and skilled population, and home to some of the hottest and fast-growing tech companies in the country, Mahan forecasts Wilmington as the East Coast’s next Silicon Valley.   A large statement for sure, but Mahan is not the only person of influence to see this region’s’ potential.  Forbes named Wilmington the 13th Best City in America to do business this past year and USA Today named it ‘Best American Riverfront’.  If there was any suspicion of exaggeration, it was crushed after cruising the exhibition floor.  It quickly became clear why Wilmington is looked at in such a positive light by the outside world. It’s the people.  

EDA Surf Teammates Drew Ziegler and Angela Thorne working the Expo floor for emails.

Everyone seems super stoked and optimistic.  Anyone who was visited from the outside says this immediately when they begin to engage the locals. And why wouldn’t people in Wilmington be super stoked all the time?!? When work lets out, people have the opportunity to go surfing, kite surfing, paddle boarding, fishing, swimming in an 80 degree marsh, or simply take a walk on the beach. Really, the options to enjoy the water is endless.  And, as we know, spending time in and around water makes humans happy.  The EDA Surf message of bringing water to the walls of the built environment fits well with this water loving population. That is why EDA Surf loves Wilmington and why we have put our roots here.  So, the next time you’re around Southeastern North Carolina, step into our waters.  We are certain you’ll be stoked too.

– Sean D. Ruttkay

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