Report indicates Kennett area well poised for economic development

FRAN MAYE - The Kennett PaperDAvid Myers, president of the board of Historic Kennett Square, presents Carrie Freeman, CEO of United Way of Southern Chester County, a certificate of appreciation for all the work she has done for Historic Kennett Square.
FRAN MAYE - The Kennett PaperDAvid Myers, president of the board of Historic Kennett Square, presents Carrie Freeman, CEO of United Way of Southern Chester County, a certificate of appreciation for all the work she has done for Historic Kennett Square.
FRAN MAYE - The Kennett PaperTodd Poole, a consultant with 4Ward Planning Inc. of Philadelphia, talks about some of the findings in a report on the economic development in Kennett Square.
FRAN MAYE - The Kennett PaperTodd Poole, a consultant with 4Ward Planning Inc. of Philadelphia, talks about some of the findings in a report on the economic development in Kennett Square.

KENNETT SQUARE >> In the next decade, the number of office buildings and office spaces will decline as more and more businesses rely on telecommuting. And the Latino population will continue to grow and have a huge impact on the economy in the Kennett area.

Those findings and others highlighted a report Thursday night by Todd Poole on the economic development of Kennett Square, sponsored by Historic Kennett Square.

Poole, a consultant with 4Ward Planning Inc. of Philadelphia, said Kennett Square and Kennett Township must plan and manage growth now to ensure economic viability in the future.

“We will not see any new office buildings being built simply because technology allows us to telecommute,” Poole said. “This allows people to work from home, or on the road. As long as you have an Internet connection, a laptop and a cell phone, you can work from anywhere.”

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Poole said Kennett Square businesses must adapt to challenges from online markets.

“Online still only represents 14 percent of all retail sales, but it is growing rapidly,” Poole said. “This will have an impact on (Kennett area businesses).”

Kennett officials must embrace the buying power of the Hispanic community, simply because of the numbers, Poole said.

“Hispanic households in particular represent a strong and growing economic force all over the country, but particularly in this area,” he said.

In the next decade, parking and transportation will have a significant impact in the Kennett area, as more and more people rely on forms of transportation other than automobiles to get to their jobs in the borough.

Poole said Millennials, those born from 1982 to 2000, aren’t spending much and are putting off on buying a house. But it is millenials, Poole said, who risk capital to start small business.

Poole said more and more Baby Boomers, those born between the years 1946 and 1964, will gravitate back to places like Kennett Square as they downsize and look for a “walkable” environment.

Poole’s comments were only a preview of a complete presentation on the economic development of Kennett Square slated for Feb. 11 at the Genesis building at the corner of State and Union streets in Kennett Square.

Poole and Mark Keener, the director of urban design for the RBA Group, were hired last year by Historic Kennett Square, Kennett Township, Chester County, Genesis HealthCare and Longwood Gardens to set priorities for how and where regional growth should be directed. A Vision Partnership Program Grant from the county commissioners, administered by the county Planning Commission, funds a portion of the $60,000 study. The remainder is being funded by both Kennett Township and Kennett Borough, Historic Kennett Square, Genesis HelathCare and Longwood Gardens.

At the meeting Thursday night, Carrie Freeman, CEO of United Way of Southern Chester County, and a board member of Historic Kennett Square, was honored for her years of service. David Myers, president of the board of Historic Kennett Square, also received a certificate of appreciation for all of his years of service.

The Feb. 11 meeting will reveal the study’s complete findings, and is open to the public.

About the Author

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.