Greater Kent Committee requests annual donation from Milford City Council

MILFORD — Kent County is looking toward growth, according to Bill Strickland who addressed the Milford City Council Tuesday, May 29.

With the Greater Kent Committee’s looming need of hiring an executive director after teaming with Kent County Levy Court, Mr. Strickland and the board behind the committee has tasked themselves with requesting donations from municipalities in Kent County.

The director position is currently held by James Waddington through the levy court as a county position; however, levy court and the Greater Kent Committee agreed to let that position go and hire someone through the partnership instead. Mr. Waddington earlier said he would welcome the opportunity to continue his role under the partnership if given the chance and plans on applying.

As for the donation request to the Milford City Council, Mr. Strickland said the money would benefit the entire Kent County as the committee worked to strengthen the county through collaboration. The city also pays dues of $1,750 per year to the committee each year for representation.

“The Greater Kent Committee is formally asking the city of Milford to consider a contribution of $30,000 annually to support the new Kent partnership initiative,” Mr. Strickland said. “The city of Milford is a member of the Greater Kent Committee. What we would ask, as a body, is to consider continuing to pay dues to the Greater Kent Committee.”

The group made similar requests of the city of Smyrna at $30,000 annually and the city of Dover at $50,000 annually, all starting at three-year commitments.

“What we’re asking for is a financial support to help us bring business to Kent County,” Mr. Strickland said. “We will embark on a very strategic and data driven approach. There is an opportunity here. We have to execute it properly. We have to hit home runs on a couple of things.”

Councilmember Chris Mergner, who also sits on the Kent Economic Partnership, expressed interest in working toward the annual donation.

“I really think we are behind in making progress in this area. I’m all for it,” he said during the council meeting.

Mayor Archie Campbell came in on the other side of the topic, stating concerns over the use of the donations and how it could impact Milford.

In response, Mr. Strickland explained that new developments impact all of the surrounding areas, much like DE Turf has impacted local communities as it brings more traffic to the area.

“Folks say, ‘Well, if we participate, we’re worried that all the business you’re talking about and trying to bring is pretty much focused toward Dover.’ The reality is: Where is the sports complex? It’s in Frederica. We are too small of a county to focus efforts in just one area. This is a very collaborative effort. It’s one that’s very centrally focused without leaning toward one geographic area,” Mr. Strickland said.

The Milford City Council did not yet agree to the annual donation to the Greater Kent Committee and asked to discuss it further during upcoming budget hearings.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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