Chamber of Commerce

120 Division Dr..
Leland, NC 28451
(910) 383-0553
(888) 383-0553

Economic Development Organizations

Cape Fear Economic Development Council, Inc. Leland Overview of Area
1409 Audubon Blvd., Ste. B1
Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 431-2811

Entrepreneurship, competitiveness, innovation and technology are key words on the Cape Fear Economic Development Council's mission list, but just as important are sustainability, smart growth, revitalization and collaboration.

Bringing business and industry to the Cape Fear region is the council's focus, but the nonprofit group works with a keen eye on the...more about Cape Fear Economic Development Council, Inc.

Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
1 Estell Lee Place
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 762-2611

A program of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Cape Fear Future is dedicated to development of the region's knowledge sector economy. The initiative recognizes the position of entrepeneurs, scientists, nurses, teachers, technology workers and others as critical to the development of new businesses and technological innovation. Three task forces focus on...more about Cape Fear Future

Overview and History


The Leland area was initially settled at the same time that the earliest plantations along the Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers came into existence. Early activity revolved around the post office, the school, two grocery stores, the railroad station, Leland Baptist Church and Leland Methodist Church. For many years Leland was one of numerous small unincorporated communities throughout Brunswick County that served as minor centers of trade throughout the early twentieth century. Due to its location adjacent to the Brunswick River, Leland served as a transportation center, though by modern standards the early roads were primitive. Ferries were in use as the means of crossing the Brunswick and the Cape Fear rivers for travelers going north and south. A bridge was built over the Brunswick River in 1890 before one was built over the Cape Fear River.

The natural boundaries of the Town of Leland include the Brunswick River to the east and Sturgeon Creek to the south, siting it just five minutes west of Wilmington. Leland has emerged as one of the fastest growing communities in southeastern North Carolina and is the centerpiece of northern Brunswick County’s continuing economic expansion. Its strategic location offers convenient access to Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, the coastal town of Southport, and the New Hanover and Brunswick County beaches.

Leland was first incorporated in 1989 with a population of approximately 1,800. Steady growth over the years has brought the population to more than 16,000. Expansion includes the development of retail centers that house national chain stores as well as mixed use developments along U.S. Highway 17 South, requiring the reconfiguration of the highway in the area and the addition of a string of traffic lights. Leland is poised for even greater growth in the years to come. In late 2004 the town doubled its geographic size by completing the voluntary annexation of a 4,900-acre tract commonly known as Brunswick Forest. The build-out of this property should result in an additional 10,000 residential units.

The Town of Leland has completed the first phase of the Sturgeon Creek Environmental Education Park. This park, made possible by a grant from the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resources' Division of Coastal Management water access program, includes a canoe and kayak launch, dock suitable for fishing, and an outdoor fire pit. The park provides access via Sturgeon Creek to Eagles Island, which groups have been working to designate and protect as a natural conservation area. Twelve endangered species exist within Sturgeon Creek and Eagles Island, and this park provides one of the closest publicly accessible access points.

Town of Belville Leland Overview of Area
63 River Road
Belville, NC 28451
(910) 371-2456

This lovely little town borders the Brunswick River just five miles from the port of Wilmington on the Cape Fear River. Committed to maintaining its small town character, the Town of Belville is focusing on education and recreation. In line with its commitment to preserve natural resources, it has created Riverwalk...more about Town of Belville


Development of the areas surrounding Leland began in the early 1900s. Bolivia, Belville, Winnabow and Supply started as small outposts near the newly constructed railroad that ran from Navassa to Southport. Located on rich timberland, the towns hoped to become centers for lumber manufacturing. However, the abundance of timber came in second to the excitement over the rich, fertile soils that were perfect for tobacco growth. Prior to the establishment of the towns, local tobacco farmers had to travel long distances in order to sell their products. With the incorporation of new, nearby towns, the tobacco farmers would be able to stay in the immediate region and less traveling time meant more time for production. It was anticipated that Brunswick County would become the largest tobacco-growing county in the state, and it did in fact become a very large producer.

The towns began simply, consisting of usually only a small handful of general convenience stores and such establishments as turpentine distilleries, sawmills and cotton gins. Supply was the most active trade center of all the neighboring towns, and in 1920 was in the running to become the county seat along with Bolivia and Southport. Bolivia initially won with the majority vote, but an enraged Southport took the claim to court on the grounds that the winner should have to contain a majority of the entire population. The courts ruled in Southport’s favor. Although this was a blow to Bolivia, people still continued to stream in, and by the end of the 1920s all of the neighboring towns were booming.


Though located only 5 miles west of Wilmington, Navassa is in Brunswick County and sits at the confluence of the Brunswick and the Northwest Cape Fear rivers. Incorporated in 1977, Navassa takes its name from Navassa Island in the West Indies and the Navassa Guano Factory that was built in Brunswick County in 1869. This factory provided employment in northern Brunswick County for more than 100 years. With a population of more than 1,700, Navassa continues to grow, along with the rest of Brunswick County. Its convenient location offers easy access to New Hanover and Brunswick County beaches, shopping areas and entertainment. Community parks include Navassa Ball Park with two gazebos, a grilling area, a basketball court and two tennis courts; the park and picnic area located next to the town hall; and Davis Creek Park with a walkway, piers, docks, a concrete boat ramp and a gazebo. In 2009, thanks to a matching grant from the N.C. Department of Natural Resources' Division of Coastal Management, improvements, including enhancements to the boat ramp and parking area, have been made in this park.

In 2010 The Town of Navassa received a grant of $750,000.00 which it used in combination with earlier grants of $300,000.00 to construct a Senior/Community Center. The 16,000 square-foot center includes a Senior Center, a youth Center, multi-purpose rooms and a Cultural center or library. It serves as an emergency shelter as well. In addition, an $850,000 Community Block Grant is being used to rehabilitate homes and infrastructure in neighborhoods where the need exists. Because the direction of growth in the town includes the influx of new industries, the town hired its first town manager in 2007 to oversee and plan for the expansion with positive results for the community.

Economic Profile

Leland is a small town within Brunswick County and is a perfect place to find space and reprieve from the busier bustle of other areas. Since 2000, the population has exploded, housing more than 18,000 full-time residents within the town’s 4.1 square miles. Of those residents, 60 percent are employed, with more then half commuting to work, most likely into nearby Wilmington. Sales, office, management and professional occupations are the most commonly held jobs while retail trade, construction and manufacturing are the most prominent industries of the area. The median household income of the latest census was $65,625. With the recent increases in income and population, Leland’s potential for economic expansion is high.

Major Employers

35 Referendum Dr.
Bolivia, NC 28422
(910) 253-2900

The Brunswick County School System has earned District Accreditation from the AdvanceED organization. The Brunswick County School System strives to meet the diverse challenges of a growing student population of more than 12,500 from kindergarten through grade 12. The system is Brunswick County's largest employer with approximately 1800 employees to operate...more about Brunswick County Schools

Southport, NC 28461
(910) 457-2900

Duke Energy Progress owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas and hydroelectric generation. That diverse fuel mix provides about 12,900 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.5 million customers in a 32,000-square-mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina. Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in...more about Duke Energy Progress - Brunswick Plant

929 North Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 251 0081

PPD is a leading global contract research organization providing drug discovery, development and lifecycle management services. Their clients and partners include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, academic and government organizations.

Founded in Wilmington, the company has offices in 46 countries with more than 12,000 professionals worldwide. Their international headquarters is in downtown Wilmington....more about PPD

5135 Carolina Beach Road
Wilmngton, NC
(910) 452-0944

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 9,700 retail units under 69 different banners in 28 countries. With fiscal year 2011 sales of $419 billion, Walmart employs more than two million associates worldwide....more about Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Real Estate

House prices have declined since the real estate boom and have leveled off. With the availability of good real estate prices, low interest rates and the number of new as well as existing homes on the market, now is the time to find that new or second home you have been thinking about. See our Real Estate section for more about the local market.

Demographics and Statistics

The inland areas of Brunswick County, mostly rural in nature, appeal to those who prefer a quiet lifestyle and peaceful surroundings. Comprising only 4.1 square miles of the 1,050 in Brunswick County, Leland is an ideal place to find this serene way of living, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. With more than 18,000 full-time residents compared to the 1,938 in 2000, you can see how the population has exploded. The average household holds about 3 residents, and 70 percent of the town is made up of family units. Many people are attracted to Leland because of its close proximity to Wilmington, yet with a much lower cost of living index. For more information on specific demographics, check out the latest U.S. census.

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