How did the Delaware River and Bay Authority become involved in economic development? The Authority's compact was amended in 1990 to permit us to use resources to engage in economic development projects in the four southern counties of New Jersey included in our compact area - Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, and Gloucester - as well as the three counties of Delaware. With that amendment in place, the economic development mission of bringing new business to the area, providing additional jobs for area residents, and increasing the economic base of our communities was adopted.
Over the last three decades, the DRBA has endeavored to seek out partnership opportunities in the form of long-term leases with municipalities, as well as county, state, and quasi-governmental organizations, to foster economic development in our compact areas. Examples of our prior and currently ongoing economic development projects are listed below.
New Castle Airport
On July 1, 1995, the New Castle Airport officially joined the DRBA family of transportation facilities. Taking over the airport from New Castle County, the DRBA set out to make the airport a world-class facility. The DRBA recognized a shortage of adequate hangars in the region to support the area’s growing business aviation fleet. The DRBA upgraded the airport with state-of-the-art technology, a new air traffic control tower, additional corporate business hangars, and customized services.
Salem Business Centre
In March 1998, the DRBA initiated its second economic development project, Salem County Business Center located at exit 4 on Interstate 295 in Carneys Point, New Jersey. Conectiv, the company formed from the merger of Delmarva Power & Light and Atlantic Energy, became the anchor tenant. The 71-acre campus provides tenants the opportunity to design and build their own customized facilities on parcels of up to 10 acres. In January 2009, the Authority Commission unanimously authorized the sale of an 11.7 acre parcel to Verizon Wireless. Three additional parcels, each approximately 10 acres, are available for development.
Dover, Millville, and Cape May Airports, Delaware Air Park
The DRBA signed agreements in 1999 to operate three additional airport facilities: the Civil Air Terminal at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base, the Millville (N.J.) Airport and the Cape May (N.J.) Airport. In the fall of 2000 the DRBA added the Delaware Airpark in Kent County, Del., to its fold. The operation of these airports allows the DRBA to encourage corporate flight department relocations and recreational flier visits. Expansions of services have taken place at each facility, making them more user friendly and bringing in revenue for the area. The DRBA also looks for opportunities to attract businesses to the airports and the adjacent properties.
For more than twelve years, the DRBA owned the building housing the Riverfront Market along the Christina Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware. The DRBA, in conjunction with the State of Delaware and the Riverfront Development Corporation, joined together to promote the economic revitalization of the Wilmington Riverfront. In 2002, the DRBA commission approved $800,000 for capital investments to attract a local restaurateur who established Harry's Seafood Grill as well as a bustling public market tucked in an historic warehouse. In 2014, the Authority Commission unanimously authorized the sale of the Riverfront Market to the Riverfront Development Corporation, which was finalized in December 2014.
In March of 1995, the DRBA closed on a parcel of land located in Cape May County, New Jersey, contiguous to the Cape May ferry terminal. The 131-acre property has approximately 50 acres available for development. Rutgers University has leased some land for an aquaculture program. Rutgers will be responsible for financing, developing, operating, and maintaining the aquaculture facility. The DRBA may one day utilize a portion of the land for additional parking, a water tower, and other facilities for the Cape May ferry operation.