Delaware Leaders in Economic Development: Jeremy Rothwell, Smyrna’s Senior Planner

Jeremy Rothwell Smyrna Delaware

For more than 350 years, Jeremy Rothwell’s family has owned land on the Delmarva Peninsula. As development accelerated throughout Rothwell’s lifetime, the Senior Planner for the Town of Smyrna, Delaware, took an interest in smart growth.

“I got into planning to preserve farmland,” he says.

Since entering the profession, his interest has only increased. While studying political science and history at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, he worked for the Upper Shore Regional Council, made up of government councils and economic development agencies in the three counties of Maryland’s upper shore. In 2014, he earned a master’s degree in urban affairs and regional planning from the University of Delaware.

Today, he puts his considerable skills to use for the Town of Smyrna while also working part-time as a planner for the City of Harrington. The bulk of Smyrna is in Kent County, but the part that includes the new 206-acre Duck Creek Business Campus is on the town’s New Castle County side.

What led you to your role, and what do you like most about it?

I worked for the Planning Services Group at the Institute of Public Administration, an office out of the University of Delaware. They do a lot of planning work for municipalities and local governments in the state, writing comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, and that sort of thing. I wrote zoning districts for Smyrna’s corridor plan.

As part of my job now, I work — or I have worked — with numerous organizations, including the Kent Economic Partnership. I served on the Kent County Tourism Corporation, and I was a municipal representative for the Dover/Kent Metropolitan Planning Organization, which handles transportation funding and planning for Kent County. I wear a lot of hats. As a planner, I am in charge of all the development reviews. I handle them from start to finish.

I like that I don’t do the same thing every day. For instance, I might be doing a park plan one day, working with large employers, or dealing with infrastructure issues.

Which of Delaware’s attractive qualities helps spur economic development?

From the Smyrna lens, the location on the I-95 corridor is a huge benefit. You have access to the Northeast corridor. Such a large percentage of the population lives between Washington, D.C., and Boston. Smyrna also has Route 1 and Route 301, an alternative to I-95.

People who move to Smyrna are generally from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The cost of living here is significantly less.

What are some of the most compelling attributes of Smyrna that site selectors should know?

First, we are a one-stop shop. The Duck Creek Business Campus owner went through all the planning and approvals, so new employers don’t need a separate permit from DELDOT or the Kent Conservation District. All that planning work is done. Plus, Kent County players have a good working relationship with one another, and we all work together to help an applicant.

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