Kent Economic Partnership update: Working against red tape

DOVER — Briefing Levy Court commissioners on their progress over the past year, the Kent Economic Partnership (KEP) touted improved resources, growing local municipal partnerships and an increase in businesses attracted to the county.

Linda Parkowski, director of KEP, told commissioners Tuesday night that by courting specific manufacturers and explaining the benefits of relocating, the group anticipates at least 90 new manufacturing jobs to be coming available in Kent County by the end of the year.

“These are manufacturing jobs actually moving into the county,” she said. “This is happening at a time when there aren’t any other new manufacturers moving into the state — but they’re coming here.”

KEP’s self-stated mission is to spur economic development in central Delaware. Using “business attraction and retention programs” they hope to promote better employment opportunities for the county’s residents by being a “premier economic engine.”

On Tuesday, Ms. Parkowski noted that a comprehensive economic study performed on the county back in 2018 has been helping to guide their recruitment efforts.

The study, commissioned by the Greater Kent Committee (GKC) — a non-profit membership organization comprised of CEOs and business executives in Central Delaware — found that the biggest potential industries for growth in the county were business and legal services, logistics and warehousing and healthcare.

Performed by Rockport Analytics, the study noted that the county was spending roughly $1.6 billion per year on business and legal services alone, but $775 million of that was being spent outside of the county. Gaps in local spending leave room for opportunity to attract vendors in these industries to the county to service the demand, organizers say.

With the launch of their Choose Central Delaware campaign in April, KEP has been trying to get in front of more business leaders’ eyes. As part of the launch, a 42-page economic profile designed to tout the benefits of doing business in the county was released and a resource-laden website has been launched.

However, one of the largest impediments to attracting new businesses to the region remains the patchwork of regulatory framework and permits issued by local governments and the state that can hold new enterprises in limbo for many months, Ms. Parkowski told commissioners.

She says KEP, along with a collection of other business advocates in the state, will be working on policy suggestions in the coming months that would help new businesses coming to Delaware go from proposal to “shovel-ready” projects in six months.

To learn more about the organization’s efforts, visit

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