easy to go out and find another farm and build on it," he said.
Meanwhile, older properties are allowed to deteriorate to the
point of becoming detriments to the communities which surround
businesses feel it isn't worth it to spend the money [to make
improvements] blight settles in," he said.
chamber of commerce has joined with county government to form a
New Castle County Economic Development Council, which it
describes as "a partnership [to promote] quality of life through
responsible economic development."
Walker said that the problem is
defining what is responsible and meets community needs without
imposing a burden. "You always have those who don't want to see
change. They want the jobs and the convenience [of nearby
stores] but 'not in my backyard'," he said.
Redevelopment often is an acceptable
form of economic growth -- especially in cases where it results
in removal of blight and putting such properties to constructive
Walker cited the redevelopment of
the former Triangle Mall on Churchmans Road by Household Finance
as an example of what can be done. An even more dramatic example
was the construction of apartments on the site of the old Budd
Co. plant in Newark. In both cases, "they took properties that
were run down and a problem and turned them into beautiful and
beneficial facilities," he explained.
In Newark "it was the difference
between having an eyesore and problem in the heart of town and
having 13 acres of prime property," he added.
Photo courtesy of the New Castle County
Chamber of Commerce
another significant example was development of the old Dravo
Corp. shipyard and adjacent largely abandoned industrial
property into the Christiana Riverfront project.
approaches become generally recognized, the idea will spread, he
said. "There are a number of old strip [shopping] centers that
would lend themselves [to redevelopment] very easily."
that seeking out such sites and promoting their redevelopment
for commercial ventures will promote the general vitality of the
entire area. "It has to be recognized that the county isn't
going to be able to come in and turn them all into parks," he
other hand, redevelopment where there is existing
infrastructure, such as sewer capacity and roads, provides for
an appropriate husbanding of county resources.
endorsed the effort now underway to modify the Unified
Development Code to pave the way for such improvements. "The
U.D.C. might have put the kiss of death on redevelopment
projects in many cases," he said.
economic development is generally measured in terms of success
in attracting name corporations and major employers, Walker said
the real gains lie in encouraging existing small and medium-size
businesses to expand and new ones to come into the area. Eighty
percent of the firms which belong to the county chamber of
commerce have 25 or fewer employees.
county development council, he said, is an important step toward
its predecessor New Castle County Economic Development Corp.,
which was active in the 1980s and into the 1990s, it will not be
promoting specific sites, such as the county airport, or
providing financing. It will, however, work in conjunction with
the Delaware Economic Development Office. Research and
development activity, particularly in biotechnology, is a
primary area for development.
said that the economic slowdown, which many observers link to
the Sept. 11 attacks, have had a serious impact on
travel-related business in Delaware, but "the jury is still out
on how much our economy will be affected by terrorism."
The answer lies in the so-called
ripple effect and that is both direct and indirect. "If business
is off at the Christiana Hilton, it directly impacts those who
sell supplies to the hotel and the dry cleaner across the
street. ... If people think it better to err on the side of
being overconservative [in their spending], it impacts an even
wider circle," he said. "We'll have to wait and see."