Could the air cargo ramp initiative take off this time?

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …


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.


Another of the interesting initiatives getting attention in Delaware’s economic development circles relates to the state’s hurdles on the path to development.

Ms. Parkowski said it can take 24 to 36 months.

“We can’t have this as an impediment,” she said. “We can’t keep losing businesses to Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.”

She mentioned a study in which Delaware was compared to seven counties in neighboring states. Delaware finished sixth in time it takes.

“This is an issue we’re going to raise visibility on,” said Ms. Parkowski, adding that a consortium with representatives from all three counties would participate. “We need a third party to come in and say these are the best practices, this is what they do in other states, this is how they make it work. We can’t keep hearing this and closing our ears to businesses that want to come here and can’t get developed for 30 months.”


U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, visited the Delaware State News on Sept. 14 to discuss a range of topics. The immediate result was political reporter Matt Bittle’s piece on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last Sunday.

Among the issues Sen. Coons covered were tariffs and the impact it has had on our country’s businesses and relationships with allies, election security and systems that could lead to improvements in 2020, and more.

One surprise, Sen. Coons said, is that President Trump has not pushed hard for major infrastructure improvements. Sen. Coons noted this is an area that could have large bipartisan support.

He said Trump’s impact has been in areas of big tax cuts, deregulation and the conservative transformation of federal courts.

An area to watch, he said, is that Roe v. Wade could be “narrowed a little bit at a time.”


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