Tag: Kent County

New Kent County Small Business Grants

New Kent County Small Business Grant Program

kent county small business and hospitality grants 2022

January 6, 2022 –

Attention Kent County Small Businesses Seeking Funds

Kent County Levy CourtCentral Delaware Chamber of Commerce and Kent County Tourism have launched a new $3 million grant program for Kent County small businesses. Grant funds are available for small businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees who had established operations in Kent County during calendar years 2020 and 2019 and are in still in operation today. Grant funds can be used to directly support the operation of the business.

 A similar $2 million grant program was also launched for Kent County hotels and banquet/meeting facilities. Eligible organizations include hoteliers and for-profit banquet/meeting facilities with established operations in Kent County during calendar years 2020 and 2019, which are still in operation today.

Both grant programs are currently accepting applications. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2022, or when funds are exhausted for the programs.

Visit the Kent County website to apply for a grant and get answers to frequently asked questions.

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Dover/Kent County MPO Sees ‘Inseparable’ Link Between Economic Development and Transportation

Dover/Kent County MPO Sees ‘Inseparable’ Link Between Economic Development and Transportation

January 3, 2022 – 

Marilyn Smith sees a very clear role for the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in supporting economic development efforts.

“I came from an economic development background, so I see economic development and transportation – anything that gets people or goods from Point A to Point B in Kent County, particularly those initiatives that will be primarily funded with federal dollars — as inseparable,” says Smith, who joined the MPO in December 2020 as executive director, replacing the retiring Reed Macmillan. “I don’t know how you can realistically pursue economic development without the transportation infrastructure in place to support it. It’s not my job to go out and attract companies. But it is my responsibility to make sure that we don’t miss opportunities because someone said Dover or Kent County doesn’t have the roads to get us from A to B.”

“Like everyone, things were humming along before the pandemic and then everything came to a screeching halt,” she adds. “Things started coming back right as I came on board [in December 2020]. We had to assess where we were with the projects that had started, asking whether anything had happened that would change the scope of those projects and our ability to work with our consultants to complete them.”

At the beginning of the current fiscal year on July 1, the MPO prioritized some new projects and started working on those.

“A lot of our projects are focused on rail and freight movement, and a couple are devoted to bicycle and pedestrian,” said Smith, whose previous role was supporting a Democratic Congressman from upstate New York and is now responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the MPO while ensuring compliance with Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) directives and oversight requirements. “We also have a few more traditional projects on such things as interchanges and traffic movement.”

Smith says it’s been an “interesting adjustment” coming from a state the size of New York.

“It can take you the day to traverse from end to end in New York,” she said. “Delaware is small. There are two degrees of separation between everybody. You don’t have that same bottleneck that I oftentimes experienced in a big diverse state where people are very far flung and you have lots of bureaus or departments. It certainly does allow us to move things quickly. If there’s a question, you can find someone who has the answer pretty fast.”

One of the things that she enjoys about her new role is the work that’s already been done to focus on the county’s strengths.

“We’re not chasing 100 things in Kent County, we’re focused on the things that we have determined we can be good at, or where we see opportunities,” she says.

For example, Kent County economic development officials commissioned a study that indicated the county should pursue opportunities in logistics warehousing, given the proximity to so many large population centers, the proximity to ports, the proximity to rail, and the availability of some large parcels of land that could lend well to that kind of business to that industry.

Over the past few months, the MPO and others in Kent County finished up a few projects that were started before Smith’s arrival, including the Harrington intermodal study, the Dover Air Cargo study and the City of Dover’s update of its bicycle and pedestrian plan, providing each entity with a solid roadmap.

Smith says there are a lot of places that do a pile of studies that ultimately just gather dust in a drawer, but the Dover/Kent County MPO has a history of providing solid recommendations and implementation plans so that the municipalities can take them and run and see something good come out of them.

“The City of Harrington and Kent Economic Partnership came to the MPO in 2019 and asked us to look at four largely undeveloped parcels – one owned by the city itself — that are adjacent to the rail spur in Harrington. The owners were willing to discuss the feasibility of a multi-modal industrial park but didn’t know exactly what it would look like. So the MPO’s study was designed to talk to the railroad and a potential terminal operator and explore the likelihood of goods and commodities coming in and out via rail versus completely being transported by truck.”

“One of the studies we finished in the last couple of months was how we could connect the Dover Air Cargo facility north of the Air Force Base and the Garrison Oaks Industrial Park that are a few miles apart,” she says. “There are a lot of one-lane roads with no shoulders, no striping, that go through residential areas. We needed to ask what we can do to make these things workable for each other because we’ve apparently had some site selectors respectfully pass on pursuing it further simply because of transportation and connection issues.”

Smith also sees opportunities to move forward with addressing other infrastructure opportunities that are already in the pipeline, such as separating commercial traffic from residential traffic at the East Camden and West Camden bypasses.

“I think it’s a mixed bag,” she said. “I think there are some places where traffic moves pretty well and supports industrial development and some places where we still have some work to do.”

But the Kent County organization is not focused just on industrial property. Where some might look ahead and see an opportunity for large family-owned farms to sell their land, Smith sees potential for farmers to change their business models to moving their products on rail cars instead of by truck.

“People are having problems finding truckers, fuel prices are going up, and we need to be very concerned about air quality,” she says. “This is a great project because it seems simple, but it could be really transformative for decades to come.”

Smith also says Kent County is working hard to make sure that anything that organizations like the MPO are working on do not leave out traditionally underserved or disenfranchised groups of people.

Focusing on those issues are at the top of MPO’s list as it looks at previous studies on passenger rail and some of the challenges with that, she says. “I think some people are changing their views that passenger rail in Delaware needs to be Amtrak. I grew up in Utah and they were having to figure out how to deal with hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics. In the 20-plus years since moving from Utah, the light rail system that was designed to move athletes and spectators to different venues has expanded to being a primary way of moving people north and south and east and west.”

“Transportation can transform the lives of people,” she says. “I think the importance of having access to transportation to get to work, getting to education, meeting basic life needs like health and food often gets overlooked and we’re [Dover/Kent County MPO] committed to addressing those challenges.”

‘Epiphany” brought Marilyn Smith to Delaware from Upstate NY

MAGNOLIA — Marilyn Smith and her husband spend their weekends in the car, getting to know the state after moving here from Upstate New York in early 2021.

“It obviously serves a professional purpose for me,” says the executive director of the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

“My husband is a school bus driver so he’s all over the place,” she says. “Sometimes he just says, I have got to take you to this place where I went and picked up kids the other day. You’ve got to see this.”

An undergraduate of Weber State University, with a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah, Smith came to the Dover/Kent County MPO from a role as senior economic development advisor for Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20).

The parents of two children, Marilyn and Steve are empty nesters who enjoy “grabbing our kayaks and going in a different body of water that we haven’t been in.”

Smith says she is “very pleased that there are four distinct seasons here,” particularly given that her last stop in Upstate New York often found her shoveling six feet of snow. “I also like that Magnolia is 10 minutes from my work. In New York, I was commuting an hour each way, so I was driving a minimum of 500 miles a week. I love that I can work until six o’clock if I want to and that it’s not after seven when I get home.”

She’s not ready to talk about “favorite restaurants” given the pandemic (“we are very pleased to have found a couple of good Mexican restaurants because where we came from wasn’t known for good Mexican food”), and she says she loves watching the planes flying into and out of Dover Air Force Base.

“We are close enough to the flight path that will never get old as long as I live, and we’re 10 minutes from the beach, so what’s not to love?”

The Smiths had their eyes set on Delaware well before the MPO position became available.

“We had been vacationing for a few years and we had said, we’ll retire to Delaware. And one day last summer, I had an epiphany and said maybe they shouldn’t wait to retire to move to Delaware.

“It occurred to me that when you retire and go to a place, you plop yourselves down in that place and you expect that community to just embrace you for the rest of your life, but you don’t have any skin in the game. That was really a motivating factor for us. It’s easy to have skin in the game when you have kids because you have the PTA and youth sports and all this and that. As an empty nester couple, we’re really pleased that we have been able to get out and start building some of those relationships.”

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Agribusiness: An Up-Close Look at Delaware’s Farms

Agribusiness: An up-close look at Delaware’s farms

7 OCTOBER, 2019

In September, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) led its second ag tour, connecting local entrepreneurs and researchers to farmers and other agtech stakeholders to learn from one another and problem solve.

The group started at the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA), where they were greeted by Ag Secretary Michael Scuse, then they visited Fifer Orchards in Camden. Bobby Fifer, one of the owner/operators of the farm addressed the group, shared challenges that the farm faces in terms of business and technology and fielded questions from the group. Ed Kee, DPP Board member and former Ag Secretary, also answered questions and spurred on the discussion.

Sec. Kee then led the group to visit farmer Brandon Bonk, who took a break from harvesting corn in one of his fields outside of Frederica to answer questions from the group, ranging from the breadth of technology inside the cab of his combine harvester, to the types of cover crops he uses to seed his fields when not in primary use. Bonk, who farms nearly 5,000 acres with only a modest staff, uses a sophisticated operation to handle the breadth of acreage.

Entrepreneurs and researchers were able to have direct access to farmers and relevant stakeholders to gather information. This is the second farm tour led by DPP, and is part of our organization’s commitment to the AgTech and Ag community in Delaware.

For more information and/or to participate in the next tour (Likely in Spring 2020) email scoulby@choosedelaware.com.

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Delaware Gets Major Push Through American Airlines In-Flight Magazine

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Delaware gets major push through American Airlines in-flight magazine


Delaware is about to lose its status as one of the country’s best-kept secrets.

The October issue of American Airlines’ in-flight magazine, American Way, hits seatbacks on Oct. 1, with a 16-page, 4,000-word special section on six topics with a range of local leaders extolling the virtues of the First State.

The magazine chooses the subjects of its section using five criteria, said Carsten Morgan, vice president of special projects for Ink Global, which publishes 25 magazines with clients including United Airlines and Amtrak:

  • Is the community misunderstood and does it have a great story to tell?
  • Is the community ignored? Morgan said this will be one of the largest articles on Delaware to be printed by a major publisher.
  • Is it about to go through an economic renaissance? Morgan says the article will be “forward-looking.”
  • Is the timing right? “The question is whether we have the opportunity to tell the story before others do,” he said.
  • Does American Airlines have a major presence in the subject of the article?

On that last question, Morgan said American handled 69.3% of the passengers boarding flights originating in Philadelphia in 2018. That represents nearly 10.6 million of the 15.2 million enplanements the airport had last year.

But the visibility is potentially much larger.  American flies about 17 million passengers per month, with about 70% of those domestic passengers.  Morgan said American Way has an audited readership of 5.4 million domestic flyers and an additional 30% for international passengers for a total of 7.1 million anticipated readers. All seats throughout the system globally have American Way in the seatback pocket.

“It’s the first time we’ve covered the state of Delaware in any kind of detail since the American Airlines-US Airways merger” in 2013, Morgan said, adding that the section includes stories on such topics as:

  • Welcome to Delaware, featuring a Q&A with Gov. John Carney and timelines and factoids about the state.
  • The Trailblazers, with a focus on innovation and interviews with Delaware State University Provost (and future President) Tony Allen; CSC CEO Rod Ward; and FMC CTO Kathleen Shelton.
  • Changing the World, a story about health care in Delaware, featuring interviews with Christiana Care CEO Janice Nevin and Nemours CEO R. Lawrence Moss.
  • Global Impact, a 1,500-word story about key industry clusters that includes Delaware Prosperity Partnership President and CEO Kurt Foreman; Incyte CEO Herve Hoppenot; Adesis President Andrew Cottone; Delaware Tourism Office Director Liz Keller; GT USA Port of Wilmington CEO Eric Casey; and presidents Dennis Assanis and LaVerne Harmon from the University of Delaware and Wilmington University, respectively.
  • Guide to Delaware, which provides information on Sussex, Kent and New Castle counties.
  • State Tour, a lifestyle section that highlights arts and culture; the beaches, outdoor recreation; and the DuPont mansions.

“Part of DPP’s strategy is to build greater awareness and understanding of Delaware’s value proposition locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” Foreman said.  “Having our governor and major business leaders share their vision in a major publication is a powerful way to let others know why Delaware is an ideal place for business location and growth.”

Delaware is a great place to do business, and we are competing every day with states across the country for good-paying jobs.” “This was a chance to showcase Delaware to folks who may not be aware of what our state has to offer. We continue to look at opportunities to highlight Delaware’s strong economy and quality of life to attract businesses and visitors to the First State.”   – Gov. John Carney

DSU’s Allen is excited about the additional visibility that his university will get over the next month.

“I fly a lot, and when I get the chance to visit the cockpit I look to see if there’s a pilot of color sitting in one of the seats. When I find one, I ask them where they trained. Five times out of six in the last year, the answer is ‘Delaware State University.’ As the No. 1 provider of professional pilots of color in the United States, getting covered by American Airlines is a beautiful fit,” he said. “Delaware State University is the most diverse, contemporary historically black college/university in America. Our challenge is telling our story to as many people as possible, and American Airlines is the perfect vehicle to spread the word as far as possible to a huge readership.”

Ink Global’s Morgan said, “Delaware: Why the First State Wants to Be First to Mind for Businesses, Workers, and Visitors” is an editorial-first publication and not sponsored content, meaning you did not have to advertise in the issue to be featured in it.  But Delaware State has a two-page ad in the publication (plus a free smaller ad that Allen negotiated); full-page ads for Nemours, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and Christiana Care; and half-page ads for CSC and FMC.

This article was originally posted on the Delaware Business Times at: https://www.delawarebusinesstimes.com/american-way-delaware-focus/

Kurt Foreman


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25 Opportunity Zones Ready for Development

25 Opportunity Zones ready for development

9 JULY, 2019

Whether you are looking for mixed-use, multi-family, affordable/attainable housing, commercial rental, owner-occupied, energy, transportation, infrastructure, social impact or traditional projects, Delaware has options for you within our 25 qualified Opportunity Zones.

Click here for more information.

Opportunity Zones are an economic development tool designed as revitalization programs in economically-distressed communities in Delaware and in other communities by providing tax benefits to investors.

Governor John Carney selected 25 census tracts as Opportunity Zones in April 2018 in which communities and economically-distressed properties across Delaware could see additional private sector investment. These Opportunity Zones are designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The 25 Opportunity Zones in Delaware are found in specific census districts in the following towns and cities, from the top of the State of Delaware (located less than 15 miles from the Philadelphia International Airport-PHL) to the bottom (located 20 miles from Salisbury Regional Airport – SBY).

Click here for more information.

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Frederica, Little Heaven Ripe for Economic Development

Frederica, Little Heaven ripe for economic development


The governor’s certification of Kent County’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan came with a caveat — a master plan must be drafted and adopted for a large portion of Little Heaven and South Frederica in the orbits of both the newly constructed Del. 1 interchanges in the area. State planners suspect that the interchanges raise the areas profile in terms of accessibility and as such, the groundwork should be laid for future development.

That master planning process began in December and stakeholders say a foundational meeting suggested that both these locations may be well-suited to become large employment centers in the next five to 10 years.

Chairing the working group to initiate the master plan, fourth district Kent County Levy Court commissioner Eric Buckson says the combination of the new interchanges, growing popularity of the DE Turf Sports Complex and a proposed Delaware Transit Corporation 265-vehicle park-and-ride facility at the complex makes this area ripe for development.

“In south Frederica, we’re seeing the possibility for a sort of commercial district that could support some of the activities going on at DE Turf recreationally — there’s a real opportunity for retail, commercial and entertainment-type businesses there,” he said. “For Little Heaven, there’s a possibility for something like a large health campus or something related to medical services — we’re definitely going to continue to need those types of things as the county ages. Both spots are well-positioned for great employment and service centers.”

Mr. Buckson is quick to point out that the master planning process is only an effort to pull together data and make projections about the targeted area. How it develops remains up to the local landowners.

“With the state’s investment in the new overpasses comes the reality that people will want to come in and develop the land — we’re not trying to stop or control that,” said Mr. Buckson. “With the plan though, we can manage and create a more defined expectation of what could go in these areas versus simply leaving it as is and dealing with new developments piecemeal. The land owners maintain control. If their desire is to keep it farmland, residential or otherwise, it’ll remain that way. But, in the event that they change their minds after the master plan has been created, there is a rough blueprint for how economic development opportunities might expand.”

Mr. Buckson, working alongside the master planning vice-chair Gregg Moore (chairman of the Kent Economic Partnership), felt that the first meeting was constructive and accomplished the mission of bringing the relevant state agencies, residents and local representation to the table to discuss the area’s future. He says the next step is to being drafting the plan and meeting one-on-one with more property owners in the affected areas.

Linda Parkowski, the executive director of the Kent Economic Partnership, says similar master plans in the state have quickly led to economic development.

“In Milford, they planned the southern part of their city and the hospital went there — with master planning complete, they had a much better idea what they were looking at,” she said. “We’ve also seen Amazon go to Middletown over Smyrna because Middletown had their master planning complete. The process is extremely important for economic development.”

Invested in the process herself, Ms. Parkowski says master plans help collate important infrastructure, utility access, transportation, land use, environmental and demographic data that weigh heavily in large employer’s decisions when considering locations.

Responsible for collecting much of this information, County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange said the next few months will be consumed with working with property owners and state agencies to iron out specifics.

“The areas themselves involve a lot of property owners we need to work alongside on the plan,” he said. “Other early tasks will include meeting with water, electric and gas utility providers and working with DelDOT and DNREC to understand the limitations and opportunities of the area. However, there aren’t a whole lot of wetlands, water impacts or woodland impacts. There are some excellent groundwater recharge areas around Little Heaven that we’ll need to work with to some degree.”

Agreeing with Mr. Buckson, Mr. Petit de Mange feels the first meeting with stakeholders was constructive and provided an early look at the possible destiny of the area.

“The area around Little Heaven seems suited to a large professional officer or campus-type of employment center,” he said. “Down around south Frederica, smaller more mixed-use commercial and business zoning that would support both the sports complex and the town of Frederica seemed more appropriate. These were some of the main ideas discussed at the meeting.”

Image courtesy of Gary Emeigh

This article was originally posted on the Delaware State News at: https://delawarestatenews.net/news/frederica-little-heaven-may-be-ripe-for-economic-development/

Kurt Foreman


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Could the Air Cargo Ramp Initiative Take off This Time?

Could the air cargo ramp initiative take off this time?

22 SEPTEMBER, 2018

One unfulfilled economic development idea always seems to resurface in Kent County.

“When I bring this up, people are going to snicker,” said Linda Parkowski Tuesday at the Kent Economic Summit at Delaware Technical Community College.

“We’re looking at the air cargo ramp. This has been around and discussed for 30 years.”

The air cargo ramp idea utilizes Dover Air Force Base for private carriers’ cargo flights, related to what currently is used in support of the base and potentially what could be in support of commerce in the area.

Ms. Parkowski, just a few months into her new role as executive director of the Kent Economic Partnership, outlined the priorities of the office during a 25-minute presentation.

Largely, the new public-private ideas are building off insights obtained in Rockport Analytics’ research about the county. One of the immediate hopes, she said, is to boost Kent County’s role in warehousing, distribution and logistics – areas the researchers said would be great possibilities for the county.

The air cargo ramp might just be a great tie-in, she said.

When you go back to some of the original discussion and initiatives outlined in the past few decades, the air cargo ramp largely was pitched as a place to “park” and service private cargo planes in what was formerly called the “Civil Air Terminal” area at Dover Air Force Base. Cargo outfits such Evergreen and Atlas would fly in to the base, but not be able to stay so the planes would be flown to Philadelphia and costs amounted to tens of thousands of dollars each time.

“I see this as, hopefully, a Port of Wilmington for Kent County if we can get this working,” said Ms. Parkowski.

With two fingers slightly apart, she said, “DelDOT has done an amazing job and we’re this close to signing a joint use agreement.”

One big difference, she noted, was that previous discussions of a Joint Use Agreement between the state and the Air Force only called for two-year agreements. The new agreement calls for a 50-year agreement.”

Nothing has been signed at this point, Ms. Parkowski said.

One of the next steps, she said, would be to issue a request for information to find out what its potential uses could be.

The prospects of it working also relate to available land in the adjacent Kent County Aeropark where there are several available acres.

The Kent Economic Partnership is a nonprofit organization that was restructured earlier this year with a collaborative agreement of Kent County Levy Court and the Greater Kent Committee, a group of business leaders.

The air cargo ramp would be what formerly was called the Civil Air Terminal at the end of Horsepond Road in Dover. Currently, the terminal is most used on NASCAR weekends when drivers and crews arrive and depart in private planes.

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Kenny Family Shoprites Eye Dover Market

Kenny family Shoprites eye Dover market

20 JUNE, 2018

The CEO of a group of a group of northern Delaware Shoprite stores says the company is eying locations in Dover.

“We are currently negotiating with Brixmor the owners of the closed Acme site and also with three other potential sites owners in Dover. Hopefully one of these potential four sites will come to a final lease agreement,” says Chris Kenny, president of Delaware Supermarkets.

The Dover market opened up with the closing of the Acme Market store in north Dover. Acme – a part of Albertson’s which also owns Safeway – has been closing low-performing stores as it copes with competition, employee culture and other issues. The company still operates a Safeway store in Dover.

At present, the top two players in the Central Delaware market are Redner’s and the Walmart Supercenter. Reading, PA-based Redner’s also operates smaller store formats, some with gas stations. Other chains have departed the Dover area over the years with no grocer gaining a dominant market share.

Delaware Supermarkets, owned by the Kenny family, grew steadily after opening its original store in the Stanton area in the mid-‘90s. Its stores typically feature larger square footages than other non-Walmart competitors.

The Shoprite operator ’s growth accelerated with the opening several years ago with a non-traditional location on the edge of the Wilmington Riverfront and by acquiring and expanding former Pathmark and Safeway locations on each end of the sprawling Bear-Glasgow area south of Newark.

Shoprite itself is also on a growth track, picking up market share when the A&P chain folded. This occurred even though rival Acme acquired former A&P Pathmarks in northern Delaware and elsewhere.

Other Shoprites are in the Brookside area of Newark and in north Wilmington.

A Christiana River bridge that will link the area around the Shoprite to the nearly fully redeveloped area of the Riverfront is now under construction.

The Wilmington store is part of this riverfront area that will become the home of the 76ers Fieldhouse and the NBA G League affiliate, the Bluecoats. In the works are apartments and other developments in the area.

In northern Delaware, Shoprite is battling with Acme-Safeway for market share with the Philadelphia mainstay acquiring two former Pathmark locations in Milltown and Newark.

Other opportunities could crop up in the future for Shoprite.

Albertson’s currently has Safeway and Acme locations that are in close proximity to one another in north Wilmington and Bear-Glasgow. That has led to speculation that other closings are in the cards. For example, Safeway and Acme locations in north Wilmington are within a stone’s throw of one-another along Naamans Road.

Delaware Supermarkets, meanwhile, has worked to maintain a local touch by highlighting Delmarva produce and food products from local companies. The company is also active in the community through a family foundation.

Shoprite is a northern New Jersey-based cooperative that supplies markets owned by the Kenny family and other operators. Shoprite is now the largest supermarket chain in a region that includes the Delaware Valley, according to Food Trade News.

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