Last year was a good one for new businesses in Kent County, and the coming years look promising as well with development in the works of a food innovation district, the Kent County Regional Sports Complex and an air cargo ramp for the Kent County Aero Park, says Jim Waddington, director of the Kent County Economic Partnership.
The fourth quarter of 2013 saw the addition of a new anchor to the Dover Mall and Commons when Dick’s Sporting Goods opened a 53,000-square-foot store in late October. Joining Dick’s by the end of the year were popular clothing and accessories chains Forever 21 and Justice, as well as a new coffee shop. A clothing store and eatery opened in the mall’s Commons as well. Growth continues in 2014 with the addition to the mall of Fashion to Figure, a clothing store for women sizes 12 and up, and later this year of boutique clothier Francesca’s.
Dover Mall and Commons isn’t the only area of Kent seeing growth. The Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce’s newest members include retail stores, pharmacies, fitness facilities and eateries.
“We have been thrilled with the number of new businesses that have opened in 2013. We’ve seen a real resurgence in Kent County, both of large and small new businesses coming in and of growth in existing business, and we see a lot of promise for 2014 as well,” says Judy Diogo, president of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce.
A large gas plant and a floor adhesive factory are being built, Waddington notes, and current businesses are expanding as well. In 2013 Kraft brought back manufacturing of the Kool-Aid line to Dover, while Handy Tube, maker of stainless steel tubing, expanded its Kent County manufacturing site.
“We are hoping that these new businesses and expanded businesses are the start of more to come,” Waddington says.
Hoteliers are looking to see a boost in business travel, and that has led to construction of a new hotel in Dover that caters to business people. Third-generation Kent County hotelier Tom Kramedas expects that his new property, Home2 Suites, will open in May. The Hilton-affiliated hotel—the first Home2 Suites in the state—will feature 92 suites designed with business travelers in mind.