Businesses may discover loan opportunities in county’s economic development initiative

GEORGETOWN – Power of collaboration was the theme for the 2017 Sussex County Today & Tomorrow Conference hosted by Delaware Technical Community College on Wednesday.

Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson employed that backdrop to highlight county government’s collaboration, including plans for an upcoming initiative designed to spur economic development.

“Today, the county is announcing our intent to create a new economic development loan fund in the amount of $4 million. Sussex County is joining Discover Bank in its participation in the Grow American Fund, which is an affiliate of the National Development Council, to leverage county economic dollars with the bank’s lending to create this $4 million fund,” Mr. Lawson announced to the applause of the sellout crowd at the Oct. 25 conference. “Loans will be available to businesses looking to grow in Sussex or even relocate in Sussex.”

The NDC Grow America Fund is a national small business lending program.

Loans will range from $250,000 to $1 million.

“With longer loan terms with the low-market interest rates the fund will help businesses stretch their dollars, stretch their cash flow and save thousands with lower monthly payments,” said Mr. Lawson. “The county is very excited to offer this new package, and what better platform than today to make this announcement. In the weeks to come look for a formal arrangement ratified by the county council and our new economic development loan program will be off and running.”

Todd Lawson

Mr. Lawson shed light on other collaborative efforts, including efforts to expand and upgrade the county-owned Delaware Coastal Airport and its new industrial park, wastewater service agreements involving the town of Bridgeville and the city of Rehoboth and the old Woodland Schoolhouse.

Another county collaboration in the works is broadband.

“The problem with broadband is two-fold. We don’t have service everywhere and where we do have service it is limited and unreliable,” said Mr. Lawson. “This is affecting our economic development. Business today cannot function without reliable internet and enough band width to sufficiently meet their needs.”

This topic is nothing new in Sussex.

Mr. Lawson said the county and council council have taken the lead, having earmarked $1 million this year for broadband. This includes a pilot program.

“This pilot has already proven to be very successful,” said Mr. Lawson. “We are now poised to launch these efforts beyond the county facilities and start to offer residential and commercial services. The county will focus on the areas of greatest need, including the rural areas of western Sussex, along Rt. 13 … that stretch well beyond the highway. That project is going to jumpstart in the weeks to come.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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