Delaware Leaders in Economic Development: Jamie Burk

May 11, 2021 –

Jamie Burk, Assistant Town Manager, Millsboro

Jamie Burk is comfortable wearing many hats. The assistant town manager for Millsboro is involved in the town’s human resources, public works, and building and maintenance codes. He manages infrastructure projects, such as the recent completion of a million-gallon water tower, as well. 

He’s also active in economic development for the town, which has about 7,000 residents and more than 40 town employees. Commercial and residential growth has made Millsboro the fastest-growing town in the state’s fastest-growing county – Sussex County. 

“Millsboro has a pro-business attitude, and it isn’t just lip service,” says Burk, who grew up in nearby Lewes.

What attracted you to the field of economic development? 

I am a former Milford City Council member, and economic development was a paramount part of that role. When I joined the Millsboro team, I brought that mindset with me and hit the ground running. I am a member of the International City Managers Association and have completed Academy for Excellence in Local Government Leadership and the land planning certification through the University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden School of Public Policy & Administration.

What is the unique selling proposition for Millsboro?

We process annexations as fast as we can within state regulations. We understand time is money. COVID-19 did not affect our building permits, which are being processed in a timely manner. We outsource our certificate of occupancy and final inspections, so that helps us to be nimble.

What sectors are strong in Millsboro, and what sectors are you looking to grow?

Medical has become big here. TidalHealth is getting ready to bring a 150,000-square-foot medical campus into town through an annexation process on former farmland. We’ve also had talks with Beebe Healthcare and other healthcare systems.

In agribusiness and pharmaceuticals, Merck has two locations in town [in research and development and manufacturing], and they are in the middle of a large renovation and increasing their footprint.

M&T has a large call center in town. We are continuing to grow the medical, pharmaceutical, and banking sectors, as well as retail.

What have businesses found most appealing about Millsboro?

If someone is interested in coming to town, buying a parcel or talking about a business idea, we can quickly set up a meeting and have all of the major players at the table.

What is the advantage of promoting an area in the United States’ second-smallest state? 

The size of Delaware is a considerable benefit, and networking is so important. I can pick up the phone and reach someone at the county or state level. That doesn’t happen in a larger state. Contacts and relationships matter. I’m on a first-name basis with many legislators. 

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I have always loved history and saw myself teaching.

What did you study in college?

I earned a history degree from the University of Delaware with a heavy focus in American history and philosophy. 

What was the last book you read?

“Legends and Lore of Lake Ontario” by Susan Peterson Gateley, a Christmas gift from my mother.

Whom do you admire?

My parents. My brother was born with serious medical issues, and for the last 42 years, they have stepped up to be supportive advocates for him.

What advice would you give someone considering a career in economic development?

Number one: Be an excellent listener. Don’t just hear the people around you. Absorb what they say and try to understand their point of view. Secondly, be nimble and well-rounded. My experience in the private and public sector and time on the planning board and city council have helped me analyze situations to find an outcome that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

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