‘Choose Central Delaware’ campaign unveiled

From left, Andrew West, executive editor of the Delaware State News; Linda Parkowski, Kent Economic Partnership executive director; Shane E. Breakie, assistant vice president, Chesapeake Utilities; and Darel LaPrade, publisher, Delaware State News; pose in front of the unveiled publication “Choose Central Delaware” at Chesapeake Utilities in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

DOVER — What’s to like about Central Delaware?

Plenty.

Thanks to continuing collaboration between private and public entities, the future looks promising too.

In the conclusion of a 45-minute presentation at host Chesapeake Utilities Thursday morning, a glossy 42-page economic profile was unveiled to tout the benefits of bringing companies to the area and advantages to keeping others here.

The Delaware State News-published resource guide highlighted robust industries already present, led by expanding access to health care providers and more than 75 manufacturers with a strong, trained workforce, among other strengths.

The resource guide is available online at Delawarestatenews.net in special sections, and at the DSN, Chesapeake Utilities, Kent County Administration Building and other upcoming locations.

Carrying the economic resource guide along everywhere she goes, Kent Economic Partnership Executive Director Linda Parkowski plans to push the “Choose Central Delaware” brand when recruiting new business to the area.

Targeted initiatives include adding distribution, warehousing and logistics commerce, business and legal services and more health care options. The resource guide thoroughly summarizes why Central Delaware is an ideal home for companies and the growth potential attached to it.

Linda Parkowski speaks at the unveiling of the “Choose Central Delaware” resource guide. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

“I need something to take out of Kent County to talk about Kent County and show our strengths,” Ms. Parkowski said.

On May 2, the choosecentraldelaware.com web site will launch, adding to marketing efforts to promote the business climate and opportunities here.

Ms. Parkowski has plenty to work with, including low taxes, strong schools, close proximity to multiple metropolitan areas and airports, nearby beaches and more. She noted that executives must know their children will receive good education in Central Delaware, increasing the chances of relocation or constructing new facilities.

“We have great school systems, we just don’t tell their stories,” she said.

Believing in Kent

In opening remarks, DSN Publisher Darel LaPrade saluted Ms. Parkowski for her “force and strength of vision that converts skeptics into ardent believers.”

Executive Editor Andrew West recalled working with Ms. Parkowski last summer during early profile planning and respected her “out of the box thinking that was very focused from the beginning with a strategy in mind for Central Delaware on how to best bring the community together for the sake of economic development.”

A strong master plan continues to prepare sites for shovel-ready construction, especially focused in the Little Heaven and south Frederica areas south of Dover. The Delaware Department of Transportation has played a key role in the development by adding access routes, Ms. Parkowski said.

Speaking before a nearly 100-member audience of local business leaders and elected officials, Chesapeake Utilities Vice President Shane Breakie illustrated why a company would benefit by bringing operations here or choose to stay when other opportunities exist.

Shane Breakie, assistant vice president, Chesapeake Utilities, presents at the unveiling of the publication “Choose Central Delaware” at Chesapeake Utilities in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

Chesapeake Utilities — Dover’s oldest business with roots back to 1859 — opted to remain local when erecting a new 21-acre plus, 55,000-square-foot headquarters off South Bay Road. A 32,000-square-foot warehouse was built too, and there’s more room to grow for the expanding business that needed to move from the downtown area (which Mr. Breakie said the company loved during its time there) for more space. A publicly accessible natural gas fueling center is available too.

With operations stretching from Cecil County, Maryland, in the north to Pocomoke City in the south, Dover’s proximity to Del. 1 for quick responses to service and construction-related emergencies factored in immensely. As the natural gas market continues to grow, so will the local economic impact.

“We chose this place because it is in Dover,” Mr. Breakie explained. “This is our home, and Dover and Kent County are in the heart of Delaware and the (Delmarva) peninsula.”

An ongoing 18-month study will examine the potential for an east-west freight route for distribution interests, and two committees continue to research optimal ways to produce a work force ready to fill future jobs needed.

“Once you’re down here you’re going to want to stay here,” Mr. Breakie said.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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