WILMINGTON -- Future economic development in the Cape Fear region needs business and community leaders to invest now.
Wilmington Chamber's Cape Fear Future initiative is five-year plan focused on supporting education, business development, and quality of life.
On Thursday, they launched the fundraising part of the initiative called the Passion Works Campaign. They're asking businesses and community leaders to help them raise $1 million.
"Teamwork is required, we have had some great support on our donations already and we need to reach out and get some more," said Jack Barto, the campaign chairman.
Thanks to early investors they have already raised more than 60 percent of their goal.
"I feel the Cape Fear region has an enormous amount of potential, we've done great things with that potential but the future is bright, I think we can do much more with what we have," said Chris Boney, an investor.
To re-ensure and encourage all investors, campaign leaders promised transparent spending and measurable goals.
"We will partner with for example the public school system, Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley, and the school board around how is that money allocated," said Randy Tomsic, the campaign vice-chairman.
The focus will be educating students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). That ties into them trying to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses in those fields.
Then, last but not least, they want to invest in parks and entertainment.
Ken Weeden, a potential investor, said he wants to pitch in because years ago, business and community leaders invested in him.
"I feel that it's incumbent that I invest, not for myself but for someone who comes in 10 or 15 years and finds the same thing if not better than what I found," said Weeden.
Campaign leaders have set a goal of raising all the money by the middle of next month. It will be spent over the course of the five years.