Dover Economic Development Committee finally gets off ground

Robin Christiansen

DOVER — The city of Dover’s Economic Development Committee has been mostly stuck in a holding pattern since its creation last May to replace the Economic Development Office.

The committee has faced issues such as a lack of minority representation and getting off the ground and into action since its formation.

The committee finally took its first real steps forward in what was predominantly an administrative meeting in the City Hall conference room on Wednesday.

The meeting of the EDC was supposed to include two new minority voting members in Kishor C. Sheth and Clayton E. Hammond II. However, Mr. Hammond was unable to attend.

Mayor Robin R. Christiansen, who chairs the committee, said the new panel has a long way to go in its mission to attract and retain new employers to Dover.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said. “I’m not going to think that everything is going to be pink clouds and sunny weather because it’s not, but I think this committee that we’ve put together is committed to making sure that Dover is going to be a viable entity in the future.”
The meeting marked the first time the EDC has met since Sept. 23, 2016.

The committee was restructured on Sept. 26, 2016, when city council voted to add two minority members, bringing its total number of members to eight.

Bobby Wilson was one of six members from the public who attended Wednesday’s meeting and remains unsatisfied with the makeup of the committee.

“I don’t think one (African American) is enough,” Mr. Wilson said. “It’s not diverse until it’s proportionate. I think it’s well overdue and should not have taken this long.

“I think the community needs to get more involved. I think the community should be packed when we have city council meetings and committee meetings because we make up part of the community.”

Mayor Christiansen led the discussion at the meeting in which the group of seven, with Mr. Hammond absent, reviewed the purpose of the committee, adopted a goal/vision and identified challenges and talked about developing strategies.

“I think we’re hitting the ground with our feet running,” said Mayor Christiansen. “Economic development is one of my major commitments to the entire city to make sure that we have jobs for our young folks in workforce development and jobs for those who are employed and underemployed.

“That’s going to be our goal. We’re going to work on bringing new businesses to Dover, large and small, nonprofit, state, whatever wants to come here and locate in the city. We’re also going to work on retaining the older businesses that have been part of Dover for a long time.”

Mayor Christiansen said he spoke with Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki on Wednesday morning and was excited that he agreed to attend an upcoming meeting of the EDC to share his ideas on attracting business to Dover.

The committee will have its next meeting on March 1. It will normally meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

TR Rowe, owner of Nail Spa by TR at 1188 Forrest Avenue, is an interested community member who attended Wednesday’s meeting, alongside her husband Don.

Mrs. Rowe said she thinks the committee can really help the city.

“When I came (to Dover) I spent a lot of time going up and down each street looking for that particular place that I wanted,” she said. “People do want to come here. I think a group like this will help make doing business easier in Dover.”

Dover City Council to honor Lt. Steven Floyd

Dover City Council will pay tribute to Lt. Steven Floyd at its meeting at City Hall at 7:30 Monday night.

Lt. Floyd, a longtime resident of Dover, was killed during an inmate takeover at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
City Councilman Brian Lewis will introduce a moment of silence in honor of Lt. Floyd at the council meeting.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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