County contributing to area's future

If there is one common gripe about the basic economic climate in this area (recent housing woes, notwithstanding), it’s been that there are not enough tech-oriented jobs for young people. The argument has been made over and over again that the kids of this area go through a very strong school system, advance to college or other forms of education and then move somewhere else because there just aren’t the jobs in this community for them to raise their own families here.

It’s a valid point. Outside of real estate-oriented careers (including sales, mortgages and contract work), there just aren’t many career opportunities outside the service industry. The national trend has been toward tech-specific jobs over the past decade-plus, and young people have often had to go elsewhere to find both the training and the career opportunities.

Enter Delaware Technical & Community College.

The school has always done a good job in offering educational opportunities, and has done particularly well in training students to get into the medical profession — which is actually another strong field in the community for people to pursue as a career. And now, with the Sussex County-owned airport right down the road in Georgetown, the school began an aviation maintenance education program a few years ago — once again targeting education to students in a manner that could help them get a good job in the area.

And this program has a chance to grow even more now. Sussex County Council this week voted to approve a 30-year lease with the school to expand its aviation maintenance program at the airport. The school will now have a 1-acre parcel off Rudder Lane to build a hangar and enhance the training it will be able to offer its students.

Dr. Ileana Smith, the vice president and campus director for Del Tech’s Owens Campus in Georgetown, was understandably happy with the generous donation by the County.

“This would allow [the students] to maintain a plane top to bottom, inside and out,” she said. “What the County is doing with its generous offer of this long-term lease is a critical green light for us to proceed.

“This County government has affirmed that the way to develop the economy, to develop jobs, is by developing people through education,” she added. “Sussex County is investing in the education of its workforce.”

And she’s absolutely right.

Oh, we love to bash Sussex County Council when they look at the present instead of the future with regards to development. But this is one case where the council members took a big step toward improving the future economic climate of the area, as well as keeping some of the local kids home.