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Business On the Move

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Kent County has several economic enterprises in the works. Here are some of them:

 

Pop-Up Delaware

The Delaware Economic Development Office’s statewide Project Pop-Up has been a success since its initiation in July 2012.According to Diane Laird, state coordinator for Downtown Delaware, 24 businesses have been selected to participate, and 22 of them are still operational. Project Pop-Up works with landowners and businesses looking for a brick-and-mortar location to set up shop. DEDO officials match businesses with the right locations, and as part of signing a year-long lease, the business owners are allowed to operate rent-free for the first three months of the lease. Tricia Vicks, of Patty Cakes Bakery in Milford, is the most recent success story, having moved her showroom location in Dover to a full-on bakery on Walnut Street in Milford. The foot traffic and word-of-mouth alone have been a boon to her company since it moved last December. “I had received a few emails about the program at our showroom in Dover, where we really only conducted consultation, but didn’t have the space or equipment to bake,” says Vicks. “They thought this space in Milford would be a great fit, and after I went to check out the space, I knew it was a perfect fit. Business has been really good so far, and I anticipate signing another lease once the year is up.” At the state level, DEDO also helps Pop-Up businesses with marketing materials and strategies, in hopes that a business will inhabit its new home for the long term.
 

Park of the Future

For years, if commuters looked to the east while traveling along Del. 1 between Dover Downs and Dover Air Force Base, they’d see lots of open space primed for development of some sort. That development is now taking place in the form of the Garrison Oak Technology Park, located along White Oak Road. With three tenants already on site, the 389-acrefacility’s infrastructure should be completed by June, when it will open 12 more parcels of land to potential tenants. “The city of Dover has owned the land since 1999, but it sat vacant,” says Bill Neaton, director of economic development for the city. “The Becker Morgan Group produced a site plan of 15 separate parcels, three of which are already leased or purchased.” Dover Sun Park purchased the largest parcel (100 acres), where the company maintains 34,000 solar panels that produce 10 megawatts of power. Calpine Corp. leased the second-largest parcel (37 acres) and is constructing a 309-megawatt power plant on the site that will be able to provide power to the local grid by June 1. The third parcel was sold to UZIN, a German flooring manufacturer and installation company. Construction on the plant is expected to be completed in early April. According to Neaton, construction on the park’s infrastructure, which began last summer, is ongoing and includes storm-water management, a 1.5 million-gallon water tower, sewer, water and natural gas, and a horseshoe roadway through the park. As for the economic benefits to Kent County, Calpine not only will provide low-cost electrical power to the grid, but also is infusing nearly $2.5 million into Dover’s economy through the purchase of water, sewer, supplies and taxes. Nearly 400 local construction workers are also on site to help with the completion of the technology park.


Photograph by Kevin Fleming
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Tricia Vicks opened Patty Cakes Bakery in Milford with the help of Project Pop-Up.​


Photograph by Kevin Fleming
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​Bill Neaton, Dover’s director of economic development, visits Garrison Oak Technology Park.

 

Bayhealth Has Plans to Expand

A premier, cutting-edge health care facility is a natural next step to support a growing community. Officials at Bayhealth—Central and Southern Delaware’s largest health care system—plan for that facility to be in place by 2018, as their re-imagining of the Milford Memorial Hospital campus began early this year. “The Health Campus Project will include a state-of-the-art inpatient hospital with private rooms,” says Pam Marecki, assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Bayhealth. “One of the differences is that the campus will also include a large outpatient care focus with convenient access to physicians and diagnostic services.” The new Health Campus Project will be located in Milford along Wilkins and Cedar Creek roads, where 150 acres of undeveloped land will be shaped through planning and development. Though the facility will not be open for several years, community engagement has already begun. Residents can visit www.imaginede.com to stay up-to-date on the project, and are welcome to voice their own opinions and needs as Bayhealth and its supporters prepare to invest more than $250 million into the community.
 

The East Coast Music Capital

Almost overnight, Delaware has become the East Coast’s prime destination for summer music festivals. Building on the popularity of the 95-year-old Delaware State Fair and the highly popular Firefly Music Festival, Kent County will host two new country music festivals this year. First up is the debut of the Big Barrel Country Music Festival, brought to you by the folks at Red Frog Events, who have been producing the annually growing Firefly Music Festival since 2012. From June 26-28, Big Barrel will host some of country music’s heavy-hitting headliners, including Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood, at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, which serves as home to Firefly the previous weekend. Not to be outdone, the first Delaware Junction Festival, co-produced by Live Nation and Alex Pires, of Highway One Limited Partnership in Dewey Beach, takes place Aug. 14-16. Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Toby Keith will headline the three-day festival at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. A study conducted by UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics revealed that more than $68 million was added to the regional economy thanks to the Firefly Music Festival. While Big Barrel and Delaware Junction producers are hesitant to speculate how much each festival will add to the local economy, fairly inexpensive ticket packages, at $99 and $199, respectively, should bring the crowds.

Kent County will host two new country music festivals this summer: the Big Barrel Country Fest at Dover Downs and Delaware Junction at the State Fairgrounds in Harrington.

 

Delaware State’s Vision

The faculty and staff at Delaware State University certainly have their eye on the future, in more ways than one. Just months after opening the Early College High School in September, university officials are planning to open the Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR) this spring. Carlos Holmes, the university’s director of news services, says that OSCAR will be dedicated to research and lab study for students pursuing undergraduate degrees, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in Delaware State’s optics program. Located next to the Village Cafeteria on the southeast quadrant of campus, the three-story building, visible from U.S. 13, will feature a 150-seat, auditorium-style classroom and image analysis suite. Optical labs will be dedicated to such areas of study as nanochemistry and microscopy. As for the Early College High School, the first class of 130 ninth-graders was accepted in September. Holmes says that students are given a tuition-free opportunity to prepare for college through the courses taught at the school. Areas of study place emphasis on science, technology, math and engineering, and students can earn up to 60 college credit hours while enrolled. Though there is no stipulation saying graduates must attend Delaware State, “we are naturally very welcome to that,” says Holmes.

Delaware State University in Dover opened an Early College High School last year and is adding an optical science research center this spring.

 

95 Years at the Chamber

The New Year marks a new milestone for the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, which celebrates its 95th year in operation. Additionally, in December, the chamber welcomed its 1,000th member. “We are so thrilled to have reached this milestone of 1,000 members at the CDCC,” says Judy Diogo, chamber president. “The CDCC has had this goal in place for over 20 years, and we have done it, thanks to all of our long-time members who helped us get here.” While promoting the civic, industrial, commercial, agri-business and social interests of Kent County, the CDCC is also the only U.S. Chamber of Commerce accredited chamber in the state of Delaware. The CDCC also holds a five-star accreditation status, putting it in the top 1 percent in the United States. As for 2015, says Diogo, “Our focus now is on adding even more value for our members to help them continue to grow their businesses.” (www.cdcc.net)

The Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce celebrates adding its 1,000th member.

 

Welcome Home to Dover

With NASCAR race weekends and the myriad music festivals taking place this summer in and around Dover, the idea of an extended stay in the state’s capital is beginning to make more sense to travelers. This year, visitors will find a new lodging option in the Home2 Suites by Hilton, which opened last September. Located at the intersection of Loockerman Street and U.S. 13, Home2 Suites by Hilton houses 91 suites, all of which feature stylish decor, microfiber sheets, a queen-size sleeper sofa and 41-inch flat-screen TVs with Bluetooth capabilities. For business travelers, the “Working Wall” is a key component and features a functional and customizable workspace with extra shelving, drawers, a table with wheels, task light and ergonomic chair. Jeanelle Sturdivant, director of sales, describes the hotel as “more sustainable, due to the long-term living option,” and says the hotel also features a saline pool that is “eco-friendly and heated for guests.” Though subject to change, rates currently hover around $89.99-$159.99 per night, depending on the night, length of stay and local event calendar. (www.home2suites3.hilton.com)

Home2 Suites opened last September in Dover.

 

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