Employment & Economy
Though it has the smallest number of residents of Delaware’s three counties, Kent County’s diverse economy, low cost of living and doing business, central location and pleasant lifestyle have helped it grow and succeed. In terms of population, there was a 8.9 percent increase between 2010 and 2017, according to the U.S. Census.
Dover is the state’s second-largest city, the county seat and the state capital. The city is the linchpin for Central Delaware’s industry and commerce, as well as the home of Dover Air Force Base. But the base is far from Kent County’s sole economic engine.
According to the U.S. Census, the county has a population of about 176,824, and more than 18,000 veterans call the county home. Of those over the age of 25, 86 percent have a high school diploma or higher and 23 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Mean travel time to work is about 26 minutes. Per capita personal income was about $26,000, and the median household income was approximately $55,000.
Kent County has no sales tax — in fact, the whole state of Delaware has no general sales tax, no inventory tax and no state real property taxes; local real property taxes are very low. The unemployment rate of the county was 4.8 percent in July 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Land and Sea
Norfolk Southern Railway’s freight service runs through Kent County. Other rail service, such as Amtrak passenger service, is available in Northern Delaware and is convenient for Kent County. Amtrak provides frequent service to Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; New York; and Boston. Also, SEPTA Regional Rail commuter service, connecting southeastern Pennsylvania to northern Delaware, can be accessed by Kent County residents as well.
Kent County is about an hour away to the Port of Wilmington at the mouth of the Christina River, approximately 65 miles from Atlantic shipping lanes. Rail access to the port is available via Norfolk Southern with railcar loading docks next to terminal warehouses. The port’s facility is a world-class marine terminal encompassing 308 acres of land. It includes seven ship berths for general cargo, one tanker berth, one floating berth for ships that carry wheeled cargo, and a multipurpose autoberth on the Delaware River, as well as one of the largest dock-side cold storage facilities in the nation.
Business in Delaware
Since its charter as part of William Penn’s Delaware Colony and prosperous centuries of farming, the area has gradually become a center for name-brand manufacturing. Kraft Foods produces gelatin, puddings, desserts, rice and other foods. Procter & Gamble makes disposable wet wipe paper products. Edgewell Personal Care Operations (formerly Energizer Holdings Inc.) is made up of established consumer brands including Schick, Playtex and Banana Boat. Eagle Group is a major manufacturer of commercial food service equipment and a wide range of products for other industry segments, including supermarkets, retail merchandising and display, and health care and cleanroom equipment. Hirsh Industries makes file cabinets and other organizing products.
NASA astronauts who went to the moon and crews of the Space Shuttle have worn spacesuits made at ILC Dover, though the company has relocated a little to the south to the hamlet of Frederica, also known as Frogtown because of its nearby marsh.
Dover Air Force Base
The base occupies about 3,900 acres southeast of Dover. According to its most recent economic impact statistics, Dover Air Force Base’s total resources are valued at $5.7 billion. This approximate figure includes aircraft, capital assets such as land and buildings, equipment, retail sales, base operations and maintenance outlays. The base’s total economic impact in fiscal year 2016 was approximately $564 million, which included salaries, retiree pay, local contracts and local area expenditures within a 50-mile radius. Secondary jobs created as a result of the base are estimated at 2,275. The Dover Air Force Base workforce consists of 6,100 military personnel: 3,200 active duty, 1,800 reservists and 1,100 civilians. It also supports approximately 5,000 family members. For more information, visit www.dover.af.mil.
At the national level such websites as www.linkedin.com, www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com and www.indeed.com have extensive search capabilities as well as resume tips, forum support and professional networking options.
The National Military Spouse Network, a networking, mentoring and professional development organization, has a wealth of career information at its website, www.nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org. The group aims to help military spouses build a meaningful, sustained career path and offers a library of articles that touch on topics from entrepreneurship, resume tips, self-promotion and more as well as a membership-only discussion forum. The organization also features companies that are military spouse-owned or military spouse-friendly on its Homefront Business Listings page.
Delaware Department of Labor Division of Employment and Training
655 S. Bay Road, Suite 2H
Dover, DE 19901
The Delaware Department of Labor’s Division of Employment and Training functions as a one-stop, integrated employment and training service. Here job seekers can find occupation skills training; re-employment, job-seeker and employer services; resource rooms; veterans’ assistance; work opportunity tax credits; a program for migrant workers and seasonal farmworkers; a foreign labor certification program; labor market information; and workshops.
State of Delaware
Delaware Human Resource Management
122 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. S
Dover, DE 19901
The Human Resource Management section of the state of Delaware lists current state jobs and provides other useful job-seeker resources and tools.
Kent County Employment
555 Bay Road
Dover, DE 19901 302-744-2310
Kent County job opportunities are listed on the county’s website. Veterans are encouraged to apply.
City of Dover
15 Loockerman Plaza
Dover, DE 19903
Those looking for work with the city of Dover can find what they need at the city’s human resources office, which recruits and selects qualified applicants to fill job vacancies.
City of Harrington
106 Dorman St.
Harrington, DE 19952
Job openings are posted on the city website, where a PDF version of the employment application can be printed out and completed. Applications also can be picked up at City Hall.
City of Milford
10 SE Second St.
Milford, DE 19963
Those interested in employment in the city of Milford, “the Garden City of Twin Counties” (part of Milford is in Sussex County to the south), can find up-to-date information at the city’s website.
Town of Smyrna
27 S. Market Street Plaza
Smyrna, DE 19977
Employment opportunities for Smyrna are posted on the town’s website.
An employment agency can offer posts ranging from high-level administration to warehouse work. Many employers use agencies as their human resources department. Agencies advertise, interview, test and manage payroll. A temp-to-perm arrangement allows the employer and prospective employee to evaluate each other before committing to permanent employment.
Municipal and regional chambers of commerce include local employment agencies in their member lists, along with contact information. See Page 17 for a list of chambers of commerce in Kent County.
Always keep your resume up-to-date and have several versions that target specific industries and highlight your skills that fit their job descriptions.
Compile several reference lists with a good variety of people and former business associates. Be sure to first ask each if you can use them as references.
Compose a comprehensive, catchy and succinct cover letter of no more than a page (this is no place to ramble). It will introduce you and your desire to work for the company. Have a knowledgeable friend check it for errors; misspelled words and bad grammar hint at carelessness and indifference. Know what the company does, and highlight skills, work experience and education that apply to the position.
Maintain a positive, professional and broad-based presence on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn; almost all employers search social media sites to vet job candidates, and your absence there will raise red flags. Also be aware that images and comments posted spur-of-the-moment can be searched out forever and come back to haunt you.
Be prepared for an interview at any time. When you submit your application, a supervisor may want to talk immediately, or the phone may ring with a call from a hiring director. Compose — and rehearse — your one-minute self-promotional speech on who you are, an achievement or two and your strengths. It’s not vanity to make a good first impression. If a supervisor wants to know why she should hire you, be ready.
Always follow up with thank-you letters and calls. Even today, a letter, as well as the quick-response email, will separate you from a surprising number of the other applicants — to your advantage — and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Judicious calls display your continued interest. Writing out beforehand what you want to say helps. So does rehearsal.
Be aware that due to the usually huge numbers of applicants, most companies are able to follow up only with candidates in whom they are interested. Don’t take it personally if you are not notified that you did not get the job.
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE CIVILIAN OPPORTUNITIES
Visit www.usajobs.gov to search for Department of Defense jobs at Dover AFB.
For information about nonappropriated fund position jobs at Dover, including openings in dining areas, recreation areas and more, call 302-677-6581/6582 or visit www.nafjobs.org.
For Base Exchange jobs, visit the AAFES career page at https://tinyurl.com/wfzxj and search for Dover.
Delaware Small Business Development Center
The Delaware Small Business Development Center offers small-business resources and workshops for those looking to start a business. Visit the Small Business Development Center’s location in Dover at 1200 N. Dupont Highway, Room 108, or call 302-678-1555 for more information.
Open for Business, Kent County
Another resource for entrepreneurs is free business development sessions available at the Kent County Levy Court Building, Room 220, each month. Entrepreneurs looking to start or expand a business can benefit from the various agencies that are on hand to provide assistance at the sessions. Agencies include the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, the Delaware Center for Enterprise Development, the Delaware Economic Development Office, the Delaware Small Business & Technology Development Center, and the Kent Economic Partnership. For more information, contact the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce at 302-734-7513.
Small Business Resources
Learn the steps to start and grow a small business at USA.gov’s Small Business website. The platform features hand-picked government websites helpful to small business owners. Learn about business taxes and incentives, financing a business, importing and exporting, federal government contracting, state business resources and more. The website also provides information on a wide range of programs and services to help veterans, women, minorities and the economically disadvantaged start or grow a business.