After missing Amazon center, Smyrna was ready this time to attract huge job creator


Amazon passed on Smyrna for a fulfillment center in 2012 because the town didn’t have utility and infrastructure capacity in place.

While the company was opening its fulfillment center in Middletown, Smyrna leaders were vowing to be ready for the next big thing.

Missing out on 1,000 to 2,500 jobs was a wake-up call for Smyrna Town Manager Gary Stulir and officials.

“We learned from Amazon,” Stulir said. “We told them that by the time they were ready to build, the utilities would be in place. They said that wasn’t good enough. That changed the mindset of the council.”

Stulir said the next big thing came calling and this time Smyrna was ready.

Work has begun on Duck Creek Business Campus on the town’s north side. He said it has the potential to bring 4,000 jobs in the research, office, manufacturing and warehousing industries in the next 20 years.

It also could create enough positive economic impact to add hundreds of local, county and regional jobs once in place.

The campus will be developed by KRM Development Corporation on 206 acres nestled between U.S. 13 and Del. 1 near DelDOT’s Transportation Management Center.

The new Aldi grocery store in Smyrna will be the fourth to open in Delaware

KRM vice president Bryan Matthews said the company has owned the land for quite some time, but when Smyrna put water and sewer in place, “we didn’t have any reason not to pull the trigger.”

Matthews said the buildings are a mixture of office and warehouse space that can be customized.

4,000 jobs are possible

Matthews said based on the results of two similar business parks in KRM’s Maryland portfolio, the potential economic impact of the Smyrna project is $477 million and would generate an estimated $4 million in state and local taxes.

He said the company’s Chesapeake Bay Business Park in Stevensville, Maryland, has 20 “good-sized” buildings on 100 acres and employs about 2,000 people.

“Duck Creek will be twice the size and has the potential to have twice as many businesses with twice as many employees,” he said. “We can’t predict the exact number of jobs that will be there, but if the campus is at full capacity, 4,000 jobs is likely.”

Linda Parkowski, executive director of the Kent County Economic Partnership, believes Matthews’ estimate of attracting 4,000 jobs is conservative. She thinks if a large distribution company decides to build in the Duck Creek development, that could mean 2,000 jobs for just one company.

“What we hear from site selectors is they want to have sites that are ready to go,” she said. “This site fits the bill. There aren’t that many sites that are 200 acres together.”

Jobs for Kent residents

Matthews said he envisions the bulk of the jobs coming to Duck Creek will be in the warehouse and distribution sectors.

Parkowski said that plays “beautifully” into Kent County’s plan in terms of targeted industries. She said in the past, Kent County has never really had a blueprint and hasn’t truly known what industries to target.

“We’ve been out spinning wheels trying to attract businesses that would never come here and that we don’t have the workforce to satisfy,” Parkowski said. “We have an existing workforce that can fill the targeted segment for Duck Creek.” Kent County recently had a study done to look at how much money was leaving the county in certain sectors, and warehousing, distribution and logistics was a big one.”

Parkowski said the demand for this sector in Kent County is $756 million annually and that businesses there are only providing $310 million of that need.

“A lot of warehousing facilities are in South Jersey and Maryland and not in our county,” she said. “Money is leaving Kent County and we now have opportunities to capture it.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay Up To Date With Delaware

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator