VIEWPOINT: Sussex County is the place to be
Normally, when I sit down to write about Sussex County, it is to plead because of the failure of the state government to provide Sussex its fair or timely share of state revenues. I thought that it would be nice to talk about some of the positive things that are happening here in Sussex in economic development. Even though I live in the third largest county east of the Mississippi, I still think of it as the real reason that Delaware is known as the Diamond State.
Let’s start with some of our municipalities. I had the pleasure of watching Mayor Arthur Campbell and the Milford City Council in action a few weeks ago as they worked through a public hearing concerning a new subdivision seeking approval to develop in Milford that followed the city’s comprehensive plan. While there seemed to be reluctance, the Mayor and city council moved into action and approved the project unanimously. As one rides around and through Milford, you can see the results of the city’s planning. It is obviously a place to do business.
In the heart of Sussex, one can see the same planning and government efficiency in Millsboro. While the town and its residents have waited patiently for the state to solve what I believe is the worst traffic nightmare in Delaware, Millsboro has moved forward. New business and residential development brought new life to a town that had been stuck in the past.
Going west on Route 20, you arrive in Seaford, a leader in economic development in the past and today. The Sussex County Council developed its industrial park and the airport and, over the years, has added acreage to the park as it filled up. Seaford followed with its own park a few years later.
Two years ago, based on a number of recommendations, one from the Sussex Economic Development Action Committee (SEDAC), the County Council stepped up to assist Seaford as they began expansion of its park and contributed necessary funds to provide a larger site for economic growth in Western Sussex. Road problems associated with this site were solved when the state provided funds to solve these problems.
How about that? Three levels of government cooperating for the good of the people, a novel concept!
The Seaford mayor and council have continued to lead the way in Western Sussex to provide shovel ready job sites for the people. With a very active economic development program led by Trish Newcomer and Charles Anderson, Seaford continues to promote job growth in Sussex, making Seaford a place to do business.
Competition in the west is coming. The Laurel Redevelopment Corporation continues to implement plans for economic development in that area of lower western Sussex. Bridgeville has established its own economic development council as well.
As all of this continues, the Sussex County Council is no slouch in the economic development field. The council created an Economic Development Department and started making major improvements on its industrial park. There are a number of programs — tax credits, workforce training grants, business loan programs and more —to aid businesses here today and those who would like to be.
I’m a little bit prejudiced but you can look all you want but you will find that Sussex County is the real diamond in the Diamond State.
Come join us.
Joe Conaway is a former Sussex County administrator and chair of SEDAC.