Letter to the Editor: Kent County Economy

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After having served on the Kent County Economic Development Commission for three years, I would like to make the following observations.  Most of the commission’s meetings had little or no public attendance or participation despite the many complaints of citizens about the state and direction of the county’s economy.  I doubt if many citizens take the time to go to the county web site to read the minutes of the meetings which would give them at least a flavor of what was being discussed by the commission. The meetings were rarely covered by the local media unless they were alerted to a specific topic like the presentation by the Mayor of Middletown.

The commission has been working for the last several months on a ten year economic strategic plan for the county with no direct input from the public as a result of this non-participation.  The plan is now in the final stages of completion and I would suggest that interested citizens take the time to review the plan as it is currently drafted and read the attachments to the minutes of the May meeting regarding the plan.  The link is https://www.kentcounty.com/economic-development/board-meetings..

Hopefully this will encourage some more dialog and debate on the future of the county’s economy.

Bob Ampula

Broad Neck

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Letters to Editor

  1. Carla Massoni says:

    The commission meets at 3 pm on Wednesdays. This is the middle of the day in the middle of the week for most working people. Similar comments have been made about issues concerning our schools and the need for community involvement. I have been very impressed by the efforts of a group of young parents using Facebook and email blasts to encourage involvement and dialogue. My personal opinion is that it is the responsibility of commissions to gather community input in anyway they can especially when formulating strategies that will impact the future of their fellow citizens. Outreach can take many forms. The Spy is an excellent one. The Kent County News and WCTR are others. But we live in a society where social media is becoming the means of communication for many. This is not meant as criticism for the members serving on the commission. I applaud their efforts. But perhaps we need a wake-up call to our local government officials. If we “truly” want citizen involvement, we need to be creative about the way we structure our forms of communication and our methods of outreach.

    • Bob Ampula says:

      The Economic Development Commission has discussed moving to a rotating schedule to make them more convenient. Don’t know where that stands.
      Jamie Williams, the Economic Coordinator has started using Social Media, press releases and the web site to better communicate with county residents.
      The first attachment to the May minutes contains a suggestion of how to get the public more involved in the economic planning process. Don’t know whether that has made it past the suggestion stage. The first paragraph on page 3 of the attachment reads as follows:

      “The current economic model of the county does not appear to be sustainable in the long run. A financial model should be able to quantify the amount of time before the economy becomes unsustainable. The Economic Development Commission has been operating in a vacuum as far as the strategic plan is concerned. There has been little or no community involvement. At this point, we should complete the plan but starting next fiscal year and periodically thereafter hold community meetings to bring different constituencies together to agree on common goals and approaches. A new more statistically accurate survey should be a starting point.”

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