Prevue July-August 2018 - 10

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On the Waterfront
Wilmington, N.C.'s River District encourages repeat business for at least one local association
Dona Noblett
North Carolina Healthcare
Engineers Association (NCHEA)
NCHEA Event Coordinator

Wilmington Convention Center (photo credit: Wilmington and Beaches CVB)

T

he North Carolina Healthcare
Engineers Association (NCHEA) is no
stranger to Wilmington, N.C. Prior to
the opening of the Wilmington Convention
Center nearly 10 years ago, the group had
been rotating every other year between
meeting closer to the mountains in Pinehurst,
N.C., and meeting near the sea, which
previously meant they had to meet in South
Carolina to find space large enough to host
them. That is until Wilmington approached
them with plans for a new convention center
along the Cape Fear River and surrounding
hotel openings that would follow suit. NCHEA
was so excited that it was one of the first
groups to sign a contract with the convention
center, literally signing on dirt at the ground
breaking for future events that went
through 2018.
Fast-forward a few years and the
NCHAE's 66th Annual Conference & Exhibition
will be held in Wilmington this August, with
450 attending the educational sessions in
addition to suppliers and attendee guests. The
107,000-sf convention center and 12,000sf event lawn will host most of the group's
events. The 186-room Embassy Suites by
Hilton Wilmington Riverfront, which opened
adjacent to the convention center last year,
is one of the five hotels that Dona Noblett,
NCHEA event coordinator, contracted for this
year's conference. The others are the 272room Hotel Ballast Wilmington (formerly
the Hilton Wilmington Riverside), Courtyard
Wilmington Downtown/Historic District,
the new Hampton Inn Downtown and
beach-adjacent Blockade Runner
Beach Resort.

Exploring the Riverwalk
While the new meetings infrastructure is
certainly a draw for groups, it's the city's
continually evolving River District, connected

10 | prevuemeetings.com

"Attendees really enjoy walking the Riverwalk in the
morning to the convention center. It's a nice stroll at
the end of the day, too."
by a roughly two-mile scenic Riverwalk, that
adds to Wilmington's appeal for meetings.
Pier 33, for instance, provides additional
waterfront venue space for private events
up to 4,000 attendees, with a location at
the 204-slip Port City Marina. Additional
work on Riverfront Park continues to
expand meetings possibilities, and a major
redesign of North Waterfront Park will bring
an amphitheater and more green space to
the city's meeting scene, with construction
scheduled to begin later this year.
"The marina is gorgeous, lining one
whole side of the Riverwalk, and is just
lovely with all the boats," says Noblett. "The
Hotel Ballast is just a few blocks away, and
attendees really enjoy walking the Riverwalk
in the morning to the convention center. It's
a nice stroll at the end of the day, too."

Pre-Event Excitement Builds
Before the NCHEA conference begins, a
golf tournament at Cape Fear National Golf
Course is scheduled, while a fishing charter
on the Atlantic Ocean will be available for
the non-golfers in the group. This year,
attendee guests will also get the option to

take a class at do-it-yourself studio, Anders
Picture caption
Ruff (AR) Workshop.
Past conference activities included
renting out the USS North Carolina World
War II battleship, and hiring a local caterer
to come and demonstrate how to make the
perfect cupcake swirl and then the best way
to eat it.
"I look for things that not only attract
my engineers, but also their guests,"
says Noblett, adding that one of the most
important things for the group was finding
a seaside location to gather and give back.
This year, the group will encourage students
to work in healthcare engineering by
offering a scholarship to attend Cape Fear
Community College.
"We're giving them $10,000, which is
essentially a full ride for two students," says
Noblett. "We already met with the college,
and it was really fun going there because
they had a lot of things to show us about
the future of engineering."
-Jessie Fetterling
wilmingtonandbeaches.com;
businessmadecasual.com


http://www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com http://www.businessmadecasual.com http://www.prevuemeetings.com

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