Mega box plant on course for December groundbreaking in Dover

An artist’s rendering of the planned on the 457,000-square-foot U.S. Corrugated of Delaware manufacturing facility that is expected to add 159 jobs to Central Delaware. The facility will sit on a 37.4-acre site at 1601 POW-MIA Parkway. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s “super plant” — at least that’s what U.S. Corrugated of Delaware, a company that produces corrugated cardboard boxes, is calling its future manufacturing location in Dover.

Dover City Planner Dave Hugg provided an update on U.S. Corrugated of Delaware and where it stands in the city’s planning process during a virtual Dover Economic Development Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Hugg said everything is on course and he expects ground will be broken in early December on the 457,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that is expected to add 159 jobs to Central Delaware. The facility will sit on a 37.4-acre site at 1601 POW-MIA Parkway.

“They received Planning Commission approval on their primary site plan on October 19,” Mr. Hugg said. “We recently worked through with them on identifying all the applicable codes that they need to follow and what the effective dates are, including two that are changing at the state level so they can get their applications in while these codes are in effect.

“(Tuesday) they reached out to us. They were looking for confirmation letters from the city that we will be supplying the water, sewer and electric, and we’re working on getting that information to them.”

Mr. Hugg added, “Their foundation and construction plans are in (Dover City Hall) now, so they’re moving forward. They really had hoped to break ground this month. I think certainly before the end of the year they will have started work on foundations and on erosion control. They’re looking to begin operations sometime between mid- to third-quarter of next year in the facility.”

U.S. Corrugated of Delaware will be bringing to Dover a new $80 million box-manufacturing “super plant” that will feature the latest technology for its industry.

Mr. Hugg said that bringing the company from New Jersey to Central Delaware is a huge deal.

“U.S. Corrugated is one of the leading corrugated box manufacturers in the country, and maybe even in the world,” he said. “They have a lot of high-profile business operations. They do a lot of research and development. They’re kind of a leader in technology and they’re in New Jersey. But guess what? They’re coming to Dover, Delaware, and almost 450,000-square-feet, 150 to 160 jobs, and an $80 million-plus investment.

“It just an ideal business operation to come to this area. Among other things, they actually have rail access directly into the building, so it helps us promote the use of rail in the corridor and in Dover.”

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said it is about time Dover and Kent County began attracting new businesses to come to the capital city.

“For such a long time we sat on the sideline – particularly all of Kent County – and hid that shining light of opportunity under a basket, and I think it’s time for people to know that we’re in business to do business and when we’re moving dirt in Dover and Kent County, the county and the city of Dover are moving ahead,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“We’ve been a stepchild in Delaware for too long and we’ve got a lot to offer. We’re the ideal location and our best days are yet to come.”

U.S. Corrugated Chief Operating Officer Jeff Coleman said the Dover location checked all the boxes that the company was looking for.

“The proximity to our existing customer base, as well as the opportunity to grow customer base, along with proximity to a trained workforce and key equipment manufacturer suppliers, make Central Delaware the ideal place for our facility, particularly given market segments that are primed for new technology and changes,” Mr. Coleman said.

“Because we’re also interested in becoming a part of the community, the proximity of Dover Air Force Base would give us a compelling opportunity to engage with those who serve our community and our country.”

Throughout its consideration and decision-making processes, U.S. Corrugated of Delaware has been working closely with the city of Dover, the state of Delaware, the Kent Economic Partnership, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, Delmarva Central Railroad and many other community partners.

“The key word that everybody is using that is really important is that what we’re doing is a partnership,” Mr. Hugg said. “It’s probably the first time in my history that I can remember that the various levels of government have worked this closely together with each other, and the second thing is that we have developed really close and trusting relationships with the commercial brokers, the realtors and a lot of the property owners – so we’re getting leads. We’re getting information.

“When one of us gets a phone call it’s kind of like a scattergun goes off, because all of a sudden we’re talking to the brokers, and to each other in the various departments and able to make a concerted approach.”

Mr. Hugg said the city of Dover was fortunate that Dover had rezoned the Kesselring site from an agricultural/residential zoning district to an industrial site and recognized it in the city’s comprehensive plan.

“This is a big win for Dover and one that I think just demonstrates that from the time that we got a sort-of open inquiry, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership was like, ‘Why not Dover? Why not Kent County ?’” Mr. Hugg said. “Lo and behold, guess what? This is where they came.”

The box manufacturing company is the latest chapter in Central Delaware’s developing story as a mid-Atlantic hub of manufacturing.

Another recent location is the joint venture of Shoreline Vinyl and Duratec, which purchased the former PPG paint plant and its surrounding 51 acres in Cheswold earlier this year for $4.25 million. Maryland-based Shoreline is a PVC fencing fabricator and Utah-based Duratec focuses on PVC extrusion.

In addition, Avalon Industries Inc. and International Container Corp. purchased the former Dover Post building on eight acres off South Little Creek Road for $1.4 million to relocate from Baltimore. Avalon Industries makes bags, totes and cases for the Department of Defense, first responders, schools, cities, towns and youth leagues. International Container Corp. makes disposable containers.

“Central Delaware is the perfect location for an advanced manufacturing facility such as U.S. Corrugated,” said Linda Parkowski, executive director of the Kent Economic Partnership. “With our strong manufacturing base and skilled workforce, we are looking forward to more manufacturers locating to the area.”

Reach Mike Finney at 741-8230 or mfinney@newszap.com.