Millsboro, Delaware – Sussex County

January 31, 2024

Millsboro, Delaware

A Rapidly Growing Community with Undeniable Small-Town Charm

 

Unwavering leadership has led to a dynamic town on a bright path to 2024

In the heart of Sussex County, Delaware you will find the town of Millsboro, a delightful community embracing remarkable growth. As an increasingly popular hometown of choice, Millsboro has witnessed a substantial population increase of 10 to 14% year over year, attracting residents, retirees, and businesses, who come to partake in the blend of small-town charm and quality-of-life opportunities.

“Sussex County is the fastest growing county in the state of Delaware with residential permits, and we lead the county and most of the time we lead the state in building permits,” boasts Town Manager, Jamie Burk.

An Ideal Location

Situated at the crossroads of US Highway 113 and State Route 24, Millsboro is a busy intersection for travelers, and an advantageous location for the town, as Burk relays, “A good number of people travel through this area to head to Ocean City, Maryland, or Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, from points north and west. Many of them have stopped in Millsboro and then decided to make it their new home.”

With close to 7,700 residents, Millsboro is gaining a reputation as a haven for retirees, due to its beneficial tax structure, location, and access to amenities.

“We’ve got a highway commercial district, and then we also have a quaint downtown,” he highlights. “It’s a small-town charm, but then we also have a lot of the services that people expect on a commercial Interstate corridor.”

The town’s location along the Indian River watershed holds historical importance, particularly for the Nanticoke people, who lived along the banks of the river for generations. Burk mentions Cupola Park, a popular recreation area in the town, which features historical markers showcasing the significance of the area to the community.

“It’s a very important space for the tribe, and over the years, it’s been an important crossroads in Sussex County. These days it’s just increasing as the rest of the county, in density,” he remarks.

 

 

Development and Infrastructure Projects

Ashleigh Sander, the Assistant Town Manager, talks about some of the key infrastructure projects taking place in Millsboro. These include the construction of a new police department, upgrades to the water plant, and plans for a wastewater plant to accommodate the town’s rapid growth. In collaboration with BeBee Hospital, the Millsboro bypass is also underway in an area north of the community. She elaborates, “Hopefully once that is complete, it will redirect some of the trucks and those who are just using our roads to pass through to other locations and keep our local roads more business-friendly for those who are coming into town with purpose.”

On the subject of connectivity, Burk admits, “That’s an area where we can see some improvement. That is something with ARPA funds that we’re looking at on the state and county level, improving that infrastructure, but that’s not something that town has the resources to implement.”

On a more positive note, he relays that Millsboro has taken it upon itself to enlist a fiber company to run fiber to town hall and all of the town buildings. “We have a network between all of our facilities,” he recounts. “So, we have gone with an outside vendor to bring that bandwidth into the town hall and to our facilities, especially with the construction of the new police department.”

He notes that Police departments are very bandwidth-heavy because of the technology being utilized, and a reliable network is of utmost importance. This investment will not only be integrated into the new police station but will extend to the new water plant and wastewater plant.

Housing development is also underway, to keep up with an expanding population. Plantation Lakes, a development that was started in 2006 has been slowly growing despite a housing lull midway through the project.

“They’ve been plugging along since then, and when completed, the Plantation Lakes development itself will have doubled the population of Millsboro,” says Burk. “There’s all kinds of infrastructure improvements and upgrades that we have to make to handle that influx of people and the increase in demand for services.”

Downtown Preservation

The town of Millsboro is committed to preserving the character of its downtown core, while also ensuring the community is equipped with quality-of-life amenities that will facilitate growth. A recent sidewalk replacement project, which added brick pavers to enhance the aesthetic, also included the addition of conduits for future light posts, along with water line improvements, showing the forward thinking approach of the community.

Recent additions to the thriving downtown corridor include Nectar Juice Bar, a popular restaurant based out of Lewes, Delaware.

“She wanted to get into Millsboro before she couldn’t afford to be here because everyone’s seeing the growth and the investment in Millsboro. And with that, you start to see the cost per square foot for leasing start to go up. We have antique stores and little shops downtown, and they will benefit from this investment,” Burk portrays.

He shares that another restaurant, Kaisy’s Delights is opening in early 2024, in an old repurposed downtown bank.

Both the restaurant that Nectar is going into and the bank have been vacant for some time, because of COVID and its effects on the restaurant industry. So, we’re excited to see them reopen,” he maintains.

The Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce recently relocated to the downtown core, into a building on Main Street which provides enhanced visibility.

“I believe we’re up to 47 new members since the new director was hired in March, which in small-town Delaware is a huge accomplishment,” says Burk. Additionally, the current police station’s downtown location presents an opportunity for potential development, with adjacent land under consideration for transformation into a distinctive gateway at the town’s entry from eastern points.

“We’ve just recently reached out to a downtown development consultant to help put together in their next budget cycle, a proposal with some renderings of what certain areas downtown could look like, with private development. So, we’re looking forward to that,” Burk acknowledges.

 

 

Commercial and Healthcare Growth

Millsboro is witnessing growth in various sectors, including the Merck agricultural pharmaceutical plant. “They have been doing some major expansions at their plant in Millsboro. And they just acquired some more land, so I anticipate that to continue,” Burk shares.

“They employ over 500 employees here. They do vaccines like rabies shots, some poultry vaccines, and some dog vaccines. We don’t see a lot of industrial pharmaceutical jobs outside of the chicken industry, here in lower Delaware. So that is a little bit unique.”

The community is also home to an M&T Bank cybersecurity call center, which employs hundreds of individuals. “Their numbers aren’t quite up to where they were before COVID, because some of those jobs now have become remote-based jobs. But they have a very large call center here that handles international accounts and cybersecurity. So that’s atypical of other parts of the county,” remarks Burk.

The medical sector is a focal point of the community’s economic development, with Tidal Health’s 150,000-square-foot campus and BeeBe Hospital’s commitment to a pediatric ER.

“Anyone that has any sort of need for specialty pediatrics has to go from this area to Wilmington, Philadelphia, or Baltimore. So, it’s a game changer for us to have the partnership between BeeBe Hospital, and the Nemours group. That’s a huge deal for our town and the region,” conveys Burk. These investments position Millsboro as a medical hub for the region.

As for business attraction, he envisions growth in Millsboro’s retail offerings to complement existing establishments. “We would like to see that middle range of retail, like some more boutiques, somewhere you could buy a dress shirt or clothing, sporting goods, would be a great addition to Millsboro,” he suggests.

Balancing Growth and Opportunity

Looking ahead, Millsboro aims to strike a balance between growth and preserving its distinctive character. Burk explains that as major projects such as the new police station and water plant conclude in 2024, the town’s focus will shift towards expanding its workforce. He emphasizes the need to continually update the strategic plan based on population dynamics to stay ahead and accommodate new projects.

Burk states, “We really want to just continue to be a place where people want to live and work and make this town the best it can be. I mean, there’s lots of opportunity, and with the new people moving here, we want to include them in what we love about Millsboro.”

Sander continues, “I would say the top goal is to continue to grow our town but to be cognizant of what we currently have, staying up to date with how towns are growing, but not losing that charm of Millsboro.”

AT A GLANCE

Millsboro, Delaware

What: A rapidly growing community with a blend of small-town charm and urban progress

Where: Sussex County, Delaware

Website: www.millsboro.org

PREFERRED VENDORS

Lennar Homes – https://www.lennar.com/new-homes/delaware/sussex-county/promo/mdhlen_millsboro-plantation-lakes

Plantation Lakes – https://www.plantationlakesde.com

Plantation Lakes by Lennar is a resort-style master-planned community located in scenic and family-friendly Millsboro, DE, offering multi-family, single-family, and Next Gen® homes. It’s a community designed for active and social living, with convenient grocery stores, Peninsula Shopping Center, and chain and local restaurants and retail options are mere moments away.

Millsboro features a lively downtown brimming with tax-free shopping and dining options, as well as plenty of naturally beautiful green spaces including the popular Cupola Park. Plus, it’s only a short drive to explore Delaware’s finest beaches, where laidback dining, exceptional entertainment, and upscale retailers are plentiful.

Plantation Lakes boasts an 18-hole Arthur Hills designed Championship Golf Course ready to challenge players of all skill levels, and The Landing Clubhouse with banquet rooms, the award-winning Landing Bar & Grille, and pro shop. Both of these amazing amenities are open to the public! Residents also enjoy a wellness-inspired community center with a fully equipped fitness center, two swimming pools, kiddie splash fountain, 4 tennis courts, tot lot, and walking trails. There is something for everyone at Plantation Lakes.

Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce – www.millsborochamber.com

Merck Animal Health – www.merck-animal-health.com

DIG DIGITAL?

January 2024 cover of Business View Civil and Municipal

January 2024

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