Considering progress, jobs in advance of Kent County summit

The Center at Eden Hill , a $19 million rehabilitation facility, is scheduled to open this winter in Dover. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines…

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For the past several days, this editor has been pulling together a collection of headlines from the past year for a presentation at the Kent Economic Summit on Tuesday at Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus, Dover.

A slideshow will offer a quick look at progress — or change, if you prefer a more neutral term — in Kent County.

Change appears to be greatest right now in two areas: first, the amount of highway construction taking place; and secondly, the investment in health care facilities in Central Delaware.

The hospital rising off Del. 1, south of Milford, is a $300 million project for Bayhealth.

In Dover, an eye opener is the Center at Eden Hill — a $19 million rehabilitation facility. From the outside, the three-story brick building looks complete. It is scheduled to open this winter.

Down the street in Enterprise Business Park, First State Orthopaedics broke ground on a new building in July.

At the time, Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, said, “I love the idea that Dover is establishing itself as a regional center for health care. We have already become a regional higher education center when you think about it with Delaware State University, Wilmington University, DelTech and Wesley College. Now the same thing is happening with health care, which I think is very good for the local economy. These kinds of businesses will bring nice jobs to the area.”

Speaking of highway construction, the long-awaited West Dover Connector opened on Friday. It’ll start near Eden Hill and bring traffic out to U.S. 13 at Rodney Village.

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Work on the presentation offered a nudge to check on some things we have been hearing from the community.

In Harrington, there has been some uptick in activity. On the highway, the city will soon have an Advance Auto Parts store and a Taco Bell.

Jeremy Rothwell, Harrington’s city planner, there is a 250-unit apartment complex on the horizon and he noted that there has been about a dozen new home starts in the past year — unusual in that there are few building lots available in the city.

The state’s Downtown Development District has created some interesting opportunities, too. Connections, the primary detoxification center for Kent and Sussex counties, has expanded its footprint, now taking up what had been a small shopping center at Clark and East streets.

Also, there are some apartments being built above Stone’s tavern and the Downtown Junction with Downtown Development District incentive money.

Farther north in Camden, there are plans for a Grotto Pizza and Lidl grocery store, according to town manager Aaron Chaffinch. He said a Wawa has site approval across U.S. 13 from Redner’s.

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How many of you spotted the C-Span tour bus Friday in Dover?

C-Span kicked off a nationwide tour of capitals on Friday with its first stop in the first state.

Delaware Gov. John Carney was invited in for an interview for the live program “Washington Journal.”

Program moderator Steve Scully said, “When people think of Delaware, when it comes to economic issues, they think of banking and think of DuPont. Why is that?”

Gov. Carney’s reply, “It’s actually a good way to frame the dilemma we face today in Delaware.”

DuPont was Delaware for a long, long time,

The banking industry came along and gave us a new and different strength.

“The DuPont company has been doing business in Delaware for 200 years.” said Gov. Carney. “It is certainly the foundation corporation and has been in our state for that period of time. “When I was growing up, 30, 40 years ago, DuPont had 30,000 or more employees in our state.

“About a year and a half ago, just when I was campaigning for governor, the DuPont company announced it was going to merge with Dow, and at that point they were down to about 7,000 employees in our state, and they were going to shed another 1,700 or so. We’ve been successful in encouraging the Dow Dupont Company to locate their headquarters here for the agricultural business and specialty products business that will spin out. But it is not going to be the employment generator that it has been for generations. And so that is an important challenge.

“Since the mid-1980s, the financial services sector has grown in our state from about nothing to a number of employers that comprise about 30,000 or more employees in our state. We’ve become a financial services sector, a lot of talent and work force talent in our state and a lot of jobs. Those industrial jobs from DuPont have been replaced with those financial sector jobs here.

“But we have to be operating, basically, an economy on every level — industrial jobs, financial services jobs, the innovation and science base, new economy jobs — something we’re working on. The University of Delaware, Delaware State University, DuPont, Dow and other companies have to be the engine of that growth. We’re creating co-working space for entrepreneurs in the tech economy.

“We just have to be working at every level at the same time, looking at our business climate, our tax and regulatory environment, so businesses want to locate here. That is really the biggest priority for me as governor.”

 

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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