Wilmington’s Cucalorus Connect Conference announces 10×10 startups and special guests including Senator Lee, Deborah Ross and Secretary Hamilton



Cucalorus Connect continues to attract top thought-leaders to its 3rd annual innovation-focused conference taking place in the Windell Daniels Hall ballroom at Cape Fear Community College. The conference has been developed through a partnership between tekMountain, UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Cucalorus. The conference has even sparked a rebranding of Wilmington’s 23 year old film festival – now known as the Cucalorus Festival with three programs: Film, Stage and Connect.

Tom Looney, president of Cucalorus Connect, announced today that several additional distinguished regional leaders-spanning higher education, government and business-have been added to the Connect program to showcase the expansive reach of Wilmington’s fast-growing, traded-sector Innovation Economy.

Senator Michael Lee will open Thursday morning’s keynote from Corning, and Deborah Ross, who served ten years in the NC House of Representatives, will recognize Secretary of Cultural and Natural Resources Susi Hamilton as one of this year’s Emergent Leadership Fellows before the Friday morning keynote from GE Hitachi Nuclear. Additional hosts include WECT’s Jon Evans, UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli, CFCC’s Melissa Singler, and KWIPPED founder Rob Preville.

Mr. Looney said, “The Cucalorus Connect conference has emerged as one of the region’s most important annual economic development showcases. Our previously announced keynoters, panelists and track presenters will deliver highly anticipated insights into the connected digital economy, with a special emphasis on the critical importance of traded-sector innovation jobs.”

“Tom has provided the gunpowder we needed,” added Executive Director Dan Brawley. “I’ve always had enough spark to go around, but Tom’s brought the connections needed to build an impressive lineup of speakers and a deep understanding of the interconnected nature of the digital economy. With Tom’s leadership we now have a conference that will shape the region’s economic identity and point us towards an innovation-led future.”

Building on Cucalorus’ reputation as an incubator for creative talent and bold, original programming, the Connect Conference includes a two-day virtual reality expo, an entire series of cocktail workshops with the top-rated bartenders from the US South, and a 5-day filmmaking challenge where ten startups are paired with ten production companies to make a promo video. The ten startups for the 10×10 Challenge were announced this week and include: Vavaroom, The Foxes Boxes, Maverick American Spearfishing, Pivot Launch Coaching, TagProspect, Anahata Swimwear, DoorBoards tm, Meredith Media Group and Creative Unions Event Design.

The two-day pass for Cucalorus Connect can be purchased online at www.cucalorus.org. Passholders get over 16 hours of presentations and panels with lunch provided both days. Connect passholders also get into Thursday’s Beer Party at Untappd and Friday’s Oyster Party at the Bellamy Mansion. Seating in Connect’s main hall will be limited to 300 passholders, so secure your passes as soon as possible!