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Zones, partnerships formed to boost economy

Sussex County, state continue quest for industry jobs
October 31, 2018

A Sussex County loan program launched in March has approved three loans for area businesses and another three loans are in the works, says the county's economic development director.

William Pfaff shared the ExciteSussex Loan Program during a Developing Delaware forum Oct. 16 in Dover hosted by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

With a pot of $4 million for loans created by a public-private partnership between Discover Bank and the county, Pfaff said, the county can lend up to $1 million to businesses. The latest interest rate is 4.75 percent with terms ranging from 10 to 25 years. “That's very attractive,” Pfaff said, adding the rate has increased from 3.5 percent in March.

Pfaff said the county is also targeting areas for industry and business growth. The county's economic development zones are designed to encourage growth in the central and western areas of the county – the Broadkill, Nanticoke and Indian River zones.

“These areas had downsizing of corporations and huge changes,” he said.

Sussex County continues courting businesses to the area with shovel-ready space available, he said, using Delaware Coastal Business Park as an example.

“The county did an excellent job to get the infrastructure in there,” Pfaff said.

Looking forward, Pfaff said the county is pursuing broadband expansion and expanding county wastewater lines.

Giving the keynote speech, Gov. John Carney said state officials and economic groups continue working to bring industries and jobs to Delaware. “Jobs are fewer and far between, but we still need them,” he said.

Harkening back to his days playing quarterback for St. Mark's High School and Dartmouth College, Carney said he sees himself as someone helping run plays for a group.

“If we're going to be successful as a state, we all have to work together,” he said.

One example is a prosperity project that is bringing private and public-sector officials to the table to bring more jobs to the state. Carney said he has hope that areas such as the Star Campus at University of Delaware and Wilmington's Riverfront will bring “new, old jobs” – a reference to the manufacturing base lost when Chrysler, General Motors and other job creators shuttered their plants.

“We can compete to win,” he said.