County economic group working on 501(c)3 status

The Sussex County Council this week heard from Patti Grimes of the Sussex Economic Development Action Committee (SEDAC) at its council meeting this week, concerning SEDAC’s plans to become a 501(c)3 non-profit group. Grimes explained on Tuesday, July 27, that she and the other 23 volunteer members are solidifying and organizing the committee, and the formation of the non-profit status has allowed them to create by-laws and a formal strategic plan.

SEDAC was formed after the Sussex County Today and Tomorrow Conference two years ago, with the mission of “leveraging the experience, intellect and creativity of the Sussex County community to inform, develop, recommend and communicate strategies for creating sustainable economic prosperity.”

It is made up of volunteers within the government, education and business sectors. They have plans to be a portal for businesses, both new and existing, and have future plans to provide funding and to encourage retention and growth for Sussex County businesses within already established sectors such as agriculture and tourism, as well as by searching out new ones, such as industry.

Grimes updated the council on their next moves, which will be to complete the 501(c)3 application, hire a part-time executive director and get their Web site live (by fall 2010). County staffer Julie Wheatley, who is an ex-officio member, told Grimes, “The county really appreciates what SEDAC has done. Through the constraints of the economy, I don’t know how we’d have progressed without them behind us.”

The county will be supporting a new publication being produced by the University of Delaware, Southern Delaware Tourism, Preservation Delaware and the Heritage Commission. It will feature 50 historic sites within the county.

The book will be available online, as well as for sale in area stores, and will be able to be used interactively within area middle schools, to supplement the teaching of local history. The county will collect donations and manage funds necessary to complete the project and pay for the book’s publication, though no tax dollars will come from the county coffers, said C. Daniel Parsons, Sussex County historic preservation planner.

The council also recognized state Rep. B. George Carey (36th District – Milton, Ellendale, Slaughter Beach and Southern Milford), who is retiring after 26 years in the House of Representatives.

Carey is an 82-year-old farmer who has been considered instrumental on the Bond Bill Committee, the Natural Resources Committee, the Energy Committee and the Agricultural Committee. He was recognized for his non-partisan support and as instrumental in making the Jack F. Owens Campus of Delaware Technical and Community College a reality in Sussex County, as well as for supporting the Delaware Fire School, located near the Sussex County Industrial Park.

In other news from the July 27 council meeting:

• The council recognized Employee of the Quarter Joey Pepper, of the Emergency Operations Center.

• The county council approved a $250,000 option for its aircraft tiedown project, which will permit the county engineering department to prepare and bid plans for a project that will be more efficient and require less pavement than options previously presented. They will also have fewer lighting upgrades, and the option will allow for much easier expansion in the future should it be needed, officials said.

• County staff noted that Sussex County was featured on the Weather Channel on Saturday, July 24, in a segment about counties’ plans for dealing with this summer’s heat wave. Sussex County has operated three cooling stations, at Milton, Greenwood and the South Coastal Library.

• The council authorized grants for the Olde Tymer’s Softball League ($500); Seaford Historical Society ($3,500) and the Town of Blades, for a community night out ($500).