County announces economic development loan program

Date Published: 
Nov. 3, 2017

Sussex County will be creating a $4 million economic development loan to help draw businesses to Sussex County.

The announcement, made by County Administrator Todd Lawson at the Sussex County Today & Tomorrow Conference on Oct. 25, was met with applause from those in attendance.

“Sussex County is joining Discover Bank in its participation in the Grow America Fund, an affiliate of the National Development Council, to leverage County economic dollars with the bank’s lending, to create this $4 million fund,” said Lawson.

“Loans will be available to businesses looking to grow in Sussex or even relocate to Sussex. Loans will range from $250,000 to $1 million. With longer loan terms and below-market interest rates, the fund will help businesses stretch their dollars, stretch their cash flow and save thousands with lower monthly payments.”

Lawson said a formal announcement of the loan will be made in the weeks to come, but he stated that County officials were pleased to be able to announce it that day.

“This is very exciting news for us,” he said.

Also at the Oct. 25 conference, focusing on “The Power of Collaboration,” Lawson took the opportunity to discuss other Sussex County initiatives.

“I want to think that our County government is a study in constant collaboration. We are always collaborating with stakeholders to address and develop strategies to serve this community.”

He called attention to the Delaware Coastal Airport and noted the partnership with conference host Delaware Technical Community College to develop the aviation, maintenance and powerplant program to train a skilled workforce.

“Sen. [Tom] Carper recently was quoted saying, ‘Aviation supports 2,600 jobs in the state of Delaware and contributes nearly $600 million to our economy each year.’ The senator should know, with his help, the County secured significant funding to improve the facility and improve that runway to accommodate additional and larger airplanes.”

The County has also been focusing on infrastructure related to broadband internet. Lawson noted that it is no secret that there is an issue in the county, with residents either not having broadband service at all, or having limited and/or unreliable service.

“This is affecting our economic development. Businesses today cannot function without reliable internet or internet with enough bandwidth to sufficiently meet their needs. This topic is not new to Sussex County.

“There have been discussions and working groups going back many years… I’m here to say: We’ve talked enough. It’s time to see measured results.”

Lawson said the County has developed and executed a pilot program to use fiber-based and point-to-multi-point wireless high-speed, private network internet connectivity in Lewes to connect to a nearby County paramedic station, a County wastewater plant and 10 of the County’s wastewater pump stations.

“This pilot has already proven to be very successful,” he said. “The County and this council have decided to take the lead on this issue, and we have earmarked $1 million this year to do just that.”

Lawson said it is an exciting time in Sussex County, and growth is on the way.

“The County will focus on the areas of greatest need, including the rural areas of Western Sussex along the Route 13 corridor and coverage areas that stretch well beyond the highway.

“We are now poised to launch these efforts beyond the County facilities and start to offer residential and commercial services… That project is going to jumpstart in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.”