The $175,000 plan, which leverages local money to bring in $120,000 in state and federal funding, is something everyone in the two towns should easily be able to get behind. It continues much of the work started by the Bi-town Economic Development Committee and the FEMA long-term recovery planning process. The keys to the current plan are brand identity, marketing to enhance that brand, and enhancing the experience of visitors and residents when they’re here in the valley. What’s not to like about that?
Certainly, the plan has some kinks that need to be worked out. But overall, we’re glad to see someone, in this case the chamber and director Adam Grinold, take the bull by the horns. Much of what is in the grant application draft is taken from the Mullin Report, which was commissioned by the bi-town committee more than four years ago. In many ways, if this grant application is successful, Wilmington and Dover could be able to step back from the bi-town plan and hand the reins to the chamber of commerce. The bi-town effort has stalled over the past two years, and this effort appears to be continuing much of the effort initiated by the bi-town process.
Of course, there will always be some naysayers who will feel the chamber not the right entity to take the lead on this process. Who, then? The towns? If we’ve seen nothing else in the 18 months since Tropical Storm Irene swept through the state, when push comes to shove governments tend to push marketing and development to the background when more pressing needs arise. Economic development, which includes marketing a region, works best when there is a public and private partnership, like this grant application. Those partnerships also work best when the private sector can drive the process, as will be the case here.
The chamber deserves credit for being proactive and pushing this application. It’s one more step along the road to recovery, and one that deserves support from every corner of the community.