Author: Live Love Delaware

healthcare job fairs

Beebe Healthcare to Host Multiple Hiring Events in June

LEWES (June 17, 2022) – Beebe Healthcare will be hosting two hiring events for behavioral patient sitters and nutritional services and housekeeping.

Candidates must bring a copy of their resume and wear a mask. Applicants should have earned a high school diploma or GED. Please RSVP online by visiting this webpage and selecting the date: You may also call 302-645-3336 or email Walk-ins welcome.

Working at Beebe is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, a feeling of community, and Beebe is a wonderful place to call home. Beebe’s success is a direct result of our team members. Their care and safety for patients and their community is obvious. Attracting and retaining the best healthcare professionals is a priority. Come, join a team of heroes!

For complete job descriptions and requirements for any of the listed positions, go to

Behavioral Patient Sitters Job Fair

Beebe will host a Behavioral Patient Sitters hiring event on Thursday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Sunshine Café on the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus.

Beebe is seeking to hire full-time and part-time team members. Pay starts at $15 per hour with benefits and paid time off. Shifts may vary depending on department needs. Additionally, Beebe is offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus.

Nutritional Services and Housekeeping Job Fair

Beebe will host a hiring event on Wednesday, June 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Sunshine Café on the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus.

Pay starts at $15 per hour with benefits and paid time off. Shifts may vary depending on department needs. Additionally, Beebe is offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus.

Beebe Healthcare is a not-for-profit community healthcare system with a charitable mission to encourage healthy living, prevent illness, and restore optimal health for the people who live in, work in, and visit the communities we serve. Beebe Healthcare has three campuses: the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus, which houses the medical center; the Rehoboth Health Campus; and the South Coastal Health Campus. Beebe Healthcare offers primary care as well as specialized services in the areas of cardiovascular, oncology, orthopaedics, general surgery, robotic surgery and women’s health. Beebe also offers walk-in care, lab, imaging and physical rehabilitation services at several locations throughout Sussex County, in addition to a home health program and a comprehensive community health program.

For more information about Beebe Healthcare, visit

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Shakira Hunt: An Artist’s Journey

Shakira Hunt: An Artist’s Journey

The Artist’s Way

Shakira Hunt has found a way to turn creativity into a career in her home state.

As a child, Shakira Hunt didn’t waiver when someone asked her what she wanted for Christmas. “I was always asking for art supply kits,” she recalls. “I wanted to be expressive in some creative form.

The budding artist longed to put her indelible imprint on a project, and change was welcomed, not feared. Perhaps that is because she watched her mother continually rearrange household items and furniture to improve a room’s aesthetic. “It rubbed off on me, and I grew more curious as I got older, which led me to explore design on a professional level,” Hunt says.

Today, she owns Shakira Hunt Creative Studio, which offers digital imagery, videography and creative direction — as well as interior design. Her specialty is branding for Black women entrepreneurs, but she also pursues personal projects, such as the series “Give Me My Flowers,” which examines masculinity.

In many respects, the exhibition is the sum of her creative experiences. Hunt’s path to entrepreneurism is part planning, part talent and part serendipity.

Following the Muse

Hunt spent most of her childhood in the city of Wilmington but moved to Newark in middle school. She studied technical drawing at Delcastle Technical High School in Wilmington, which was as close as she could get to a design curriculum. At Delaware Technical and Community College, she took more architectural and civil engineering classes.

While watching a TV show about a Pratt Institute student, Hunt realized that art school was a possibility. She wasted no time learning more. “I Googled art schools near me, and the first one that came up was the Delaware College of Art and Design,” she says. “It was within reach; it was easy to get to, and it was small enough that I could explore art deeply.”

After graduating from the two-year program, she continued her education at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. A three-month internship turned into a year with the promise of a job. When the position fell through, Hunt was back in Delaware.

Back in her home state, she secured a position with an architectural firm. The only female designer, she participated in the company’s rebranding, before moving into health care work, which wasn’t a good fit.

“I had to go back to childhood again and ask myself what excited me,” she says. “It was art. It was creativity.”

Behind the Lens

Hunt began exploring photography while listening to podcasts about people with the courage to leave 9-to-5 jobs to pursue a passion. She wanted to use photography to illustrate a brand and a culture. Webinars and YouTube provided an education, and she studied the work of other creatives and photographers.

With Shakira Hunt Creative Studio, Hunt found the happy intersection of design and photography. “I love both. There’s so much of a crossover,” she says. For her photographs, she often creates sets, which is exemplified by the “Give Me My Flowers” series.

She started the project in the early days of the pandemic when she longed to go outside. “It turned into an entire body of work, and I was granted an exhibition to support that work,” she says.

The series explores the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine energy in Black men. For her first shot, she recreated a set on a basketball court with crushed paper and household items. Her subject was a masculine man who was comfortable showing vulnerability. It made her realize that she’d had relationships with men who were the opposite; they were emotionally unavailable.

Two subjects photographed in London are LGTBQ men from the Caribbean, where there is a stigma about being gay, particularly if you are Black. Most of the models were open to direction, but she met resistance when she photographed her “hyper-masculine” family members.

The solo exhibit at The Delaware Contemporary is an example of collaboration in the art community. A creative with a streak of common sense, Hunt quickly learned who was who in Delaware’s art-and-design space, which is easy to do given the state’s size. “I want to expand and be better, and I want someone to learn and benefit from my skill and experience,” she concludes.

Delaware’s location has let her easily travel to different environs for work and inspiration. But, says Hunt, “I’m grateful that I can do that and come back to the place that I know and feel close and connected to.”

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Raye Jones Avery: Vocalist, Educator and Arts Advocate

An Advocate for the Arts

Wilmington resident Raye Jones Avery is a dynamic creator who sparks change

As a child, Raye Jones Avery was interested in the arts. And no wonder. Avery was one of six children, and her mother, an educator, encouraged them to amuse themselves with creative play. “We did a lot of singing and came up with our own choreography,” recalls Avery, whose family moved from Philadelphia to Wilmington when she was 6.

Today, the arts are a career and a passion for Avery, who still lives in the city. Her business,
High Intensity Productions, focuses on content for cultural programming. She does not lack experience. For nearly 30 years, Avery was the executive director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center in Wilmington. She’s been a curator, educator, activist and mentor. She’s also a recording artist.

And she’s seen the arts flourish in her hometown.

An Artist with a Cause

Avery’s family moved to Delaware for work. Her father, Valley Rice, spent the bulk of his career teaching mathematics at Bancroft Junior High School. Her mother, Lillian, an early educator, also worked in city schools.

Between teaching and tending to the family, the couple was busy. What’s more, two of Avery’s siblings were born with a genetic disorder. “They were severely ill, and I became a caretaker at a very young age,” says Avery, the second-oldest child.

The family lived in an East Wilmington community full of residents with an entrepreneurial spirit. Her father, for one, took plumbing and furnace jobs on the side. But he always found time for books. “He was a voracious reader,” Avery says. “I got my appetite for literature from him.”

Indeed, the book buff studied English literature at the University of Delaware and earned an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in English and sociology. She began her career in education advocacy at the Parent Resource Center led by Councilman Jea P. Street, Sr.

She also worked for Planned Parenthood and earned a master’s in health services administration from West Chester University. Working at the United Way of Delaware offered a broader perspective of the area’s nonprofit world for Avery, who led the first statewide needs assessment.

However, she never lost her love for the arts. The mother of two took dance and music classes at the Christina Cultural Arts Center. When a leadership position opened, she expressed her interest.

A Collaborative Community

Avery was with the nonprofit cultural arts organization for so long that many people think she founded it. But, in fact, the Women’s Club of Trinity Episcopal Church started the group in 1945 to provide activities for immigrant Polish and Swedish families.

In 1969, led by visual artist educator Percy Ricks, CCAC became a community-based arts center emphasizing African American cultural heritage. The organization purchased and renovated a Market Street building in 1993, and today, thousands benefit from CCAC’s services each year.

In 2001, Avery helped start the Kuumba Academy Charter School, which serves children from kindergarten through eighth grade. The school, created through a partnership with CCAC, unites the arts, academics, technology and families. The academy has received national acclaim, including a congratulatory 20th-anniversary message from Raymond Lewis, a former NFL player with the Baltimore Ravens.

Programs at CCAC, Kuumba Academy and other organizations have helped boost the arts in Wilmington, Avery says. “We have some great arts organizations — when people come here from other places, they say it’s remarkable.”

Artists are storytellers, she says. They build social cohesion and are economic drivers in a community. She’s encouraged by the support for local artists from larger entities, such as the Delaware Art Museum, The Delaware Contemporary and City Theater Company. In addition, Avery encourages more support for The Creative Vision Factory, a drop-in center for residents with behavioral health needs.

In 2021, the Delaware Art Museum commissioned Dara Stevens Meredith to choreograph “a bold new work,” “The Bridge of our Roots,” which explores the lived conditions of African American women, Avery says.

The film presentation was recorded in front of “Southern Souvenir No. II,” a powerful painting by Eldzier Cortor.

“Supporters encouraged a live presentation of the moving dance suite,” says Avery, who handled audience development and fundraising for the project. The dancers performed in front of sold-out crowds at the Delaware Theatre Company and the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia.

Next, Avery hopes to raise funds so Meredith and multigenerational dancers can tour Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). But first, Avery says, she will join Meredith for her 40th birthday in Egypt this summer, a gift from Kuumba Academy founders.

Catalyst for Change

From Avery’s Quaker Hill neighborhood, she can walk to many arts venues, including the Delaware Contemporary and the Delaware Theatre Company on the Wilmington Riverfront.

She currently volunteers on year-round programming related to one of the city’s most popular events, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. The annual concert series honors the virtuoso Wilmington-born jazz trumpeter who died at age 25 in a car accident. The recent year-round concerts have been in-person and virtual.

Avery has also been on the road. At the suggestion of friend and collaborator E. Shawn Qaissaunee, a Wilmington jazz artist, she applied for and received the Robert Johnson Endowment Fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, VA. Her project combines creative fictional writing with a companion CD.

The artist has already recorded two CDs, primarily in the jazz genre, which include rearranged standards and originals that merge the spoken word with music. Expect more. Avery is taking piano lessons at CCAC with Stacey Harcum to help her compose.

No doubt, Avery will achieve her goals — with a little bit of help from her creative friends and community. The best thing about Delaware, she says, is the “deep camaraderie and kinship.”

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Young Professionals Summit in Delaware

Creating the Largest Hybrid Young Professionals Summit

Back in late 2016, Charlie Vincent and Robert Herrera, president of The Mill co-working space that now has two Delaware locations, decided the state needed a leadership conference to bring together members of the 20 or 30 different young professional groups throughout the state of Delaware that were either affiliates of large organizations or their own standalone group.

The first #MILLSUMMIT in August 2017 drew more than 250 people to the Chase Center. But that was just the start. The 2021 #MILLSUMMIT, which included nearly three dozen panels and keynotes, attracted nearly 1,000 people, most of whom were streaming in through the conference’s app and website, which offers the ability to network and ask questions.

Vincent says #MILLSUMMIT is now “the largest hybrid young professional conference in the country, and there’s a lot of room for it to get bigger.” He and some of the other original committee members formed a nonprofit called Spur Impact after the first #MILLSUMMIT, with the mission focused on helping empower and connect young professionals to each other and with opportunities in leadership roles at public, private, and nonprofit community service organizations.

This year will be the sixth #MillSummit. How did you keep it going during the pandemic?

The pandemic was a blessing in disguise in that it opened the door to the hybrid virtual world. It’s opened a lot of doors to a wider audience beyond Delaware for the virtual side. This year (Aug. 2-4) will be the first where we’ll have a fully hybrid event. The first day will be an all-virtual day and the next two will be fully hybrid at The Queen in Wilmington with a cap of 250 for in-person attendance. Anybody from around the world can stream the sessions and the keynotes and interact with the speakers, panelists, and other attendees. We experimented with hybrid a little bit in 2021 at CSC Station and it worked out great, and the in-person experience will be even better this year. No matter where you’re at, you can just watch through the app or through your phone when you can. We had one attendee last year tell us she listened to the whole thing like a podcast as she drove from Chicago to Kansas City. Registration is now open and you can register at this link:

Who attends?

About 75% of the young professional conference attendees are between 25 and 40 and most of the rest are older. You have a lot of entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and mompreneurs attending as well as corporate employees. The more seasoned professionals are trying to figure out how to give back and connect to this younger generation. You have teams with four or five generations on these workplace teams. So a lot of the conference content is designed around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)-related topics, leadership, and professional development topics, or generational diversity and team dynamic topics because they’re relevant no matter where you are in your professional career.

How do you keep the conference fresh?

You must surround yourself with a good planning team and a good board that can help guide the ship and make sure you’re checking your blind spots. We have 50 or 60 volunteers helping plan this. What’s been most satisfying to me is seeing people come in because they’re interested and now two or three years later, they’re the senior leaders helping plan the whole conference.

What makes Delaware the best place for #MILLSUMMIT?

As the nation’s corporate capital, businesses around the country leverage many of Delaware’s resources on a regular basis. Because of our size and location, many corporate, nonprofit, and government leaders are able to connect and interact with each other on a relatively easy basis, whether for an in-person or virtual meeting.

The #MILLSUMMIT is a great place for companies to bring in their younger and seasoned leaders to attend, network, and learn from experts about relevant topics of both personal and professional interest.

We’re trying to figure out ways to turn it into a bigger destination conference two or three years from now so we can showcase this great state in different ways and because it is a different experience in person than virtually. You need the city and the state and the county to come in and think about this from a tourism and economic impact perspective. With other national conferences, the conference itself is the primary magnet. But once the attendees are physically here, you could invite them to a show at the Grand or a Blue Rocks game, or a Winterthur exhibition. We’ve had speakers go down to the beach while they’re here, or to Philly, our local museums, or Longwood.

How do you build a hybrid conference that reflects the original goals for Delawareans?

Retention of talent has always been an underlying issue since it takes a lot more effort to hire than keep good employees, and so keeping the #MILLSUMMIT topics focused on retention-relevant issues hasn’t changed. We usually have panels with representatives from four or five local groups talking about their strategies for getting young leaders involved. We also might pair that panel with a virtual session about how to get involved in your own community with a different set of speakers.

Who’ll be speaking this year?

We haven’t officially announced the lineup yet, but our keynotes this year include a national DEI expert, a speaker who will speak about the “great resignation” and unfollowing your passions. I’m personally looking forward to hearing from Major Michelle Rogers, one of the commanders at Dover Air Force Base, who will talk about her experiences as a career officer and helping lead in what is traditionally a male-dominated industry. This is also the first time we’ve invited a military leader to speak as a keynote, and I know the attendees are going to be inspired by her story and have some good tactical takeaways from her.

Why are you guys so popular?

The quick answer, I don’t know. We’ve kept the cost reasonable, and it’s planned by young professionals across industries. We really take pride in making sure everyone’s voice is heard at every step in the planning process. We try to make it as inclusive as possible to bring different voices to the table and plan a conference that would be appealing to our counterparts around the country.

Nobody has ever dictated topics or has given us a big pot of money and said, hey I need you to do this. Among the committee, if has always been like, “Hey, why don’t we do this? And let’s see, can we get Barack Obama?” So we think about how to make a cool event and experience that our friends and colleagues would want to attend. Everybody around the planning table is empowered to put their personal stamp on this conference.

There is a cost to attend but we’ve kept the price low on purpose. We’ll probably charge around $150 for all three virtual days and fortunately we have a lot of corporate and other support that helps pay for nonprofit attendees and community members to attend whether they are in person or virtual. We try and price it in a way that’s affordable to everybody. We have a scholarship program that allows people to buy two tickets, one for themselves and another, so someone else can go that can’t necessarily afford to.

In the beginning, Robert and I agreed that people who sell a young professional conference at $1,500 a ticket aren’t going to get the average person who’s sitting in my shoes at a law firm or a bank to travel three or four days and their employers won’t shell out that sort of price to send 15 or more people. They might send one. At our conference, businesses can afford to send a lot more people to hear and share ideas and hopefully go back and start implementing some of them in their workplaces.

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DHSS Launches State Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program

NEW CASTLE (May 4, 2022) – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has launched a state-sponsored Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program (HCPLRP). Under the new loan repayment program, eligible clinicians may receive up to $50,000 per year in loan repayment for a maximum of four years of employment in Delaware.

Governor John Carney signed House Bill 48 with House Amendment 1 on Aug. 10, 2021, establishing the loan repayment program administered by the Delaware Health Care Commission (DHCC). The program is a valuable tool to incentivize providers to practice in Delaware, in addition to attracting more providers to the state’s primary care workforce.

“We are grateful to Governor Carney and to the General Assembly for their support of the Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program,” said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik. “It’s clear that we need to find ways to attract more primary care providers to practice in Delaware, and this state-sponsored program is a strategic way to do that.”

“When it comes to health care, Delawareans deserve to be treated by highly trained professionals at medical facilities statewide,” said Rep. David Bentz, the lead sponsor of House Bill 48. “However, we are facing a shortage of doctors as the demand for them grows. That’s why we passed HB 48, which offers an attractive incentive to Delaware students in residency programs here, as well as establishes an education loan repayment program for medical professionals who currently work in Delaware. With this law, we can work toward recruiting and retaining top primary care doctors. I’m grateful to the Delaware Health Care Commission for taking a leadership role in running the grant program and ensuring that we have more health care workers throughout the state, including in underserved communities.”

In Fiscal Year 2022, the General Assembly allocated $1 million in state funds to support the loan repayment program. The Delaware Health Care Commission also received, in December 2021, a $1 million one-time contribution from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware. For Fiscal Year 2023, beginning July 1, 2022, the Governor’s Recommended Budget has proposed an additional $1 million in state funds to support the program.

“The Delaware Health Care Commission is excited to be able to implement HB48 and offer health care providers, who are interested in practicing in Delaware, worked to address this crisis through the development of the Health Care Workforce Subcommittee; supporting education through Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research (DIMER) and (Delaware Institute of Dental Education and Research (DIDER); providing practice sustainability through the Primary Care Reform Collaborative; and now incentivizing providers to practice in Delaware with the State Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program,” said Dr. Nancy Fan, Chair of the Delaware Health Care Commission and a practicing OB/GYN. “We are excited to be able to implement HB48 and offer primary care providers, who will be practicing in Delaware, meaningful financial relief, so they can build a sustainable practice and increase access for our patients to quality, affordable care.”

Qualifying clinicians must be a new primary care provider in an ambulatory or outpatient setting and completed graduate education within six months of the application for HCPLRP being submitted. Eligible health care providers include physicians practicing family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, geriatrics, and psychiatry as well as Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Physicians Assistants practicing adult medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry/mental health, geriatrics, and women’s health.

Employers may apply on behalf of their affiliated, qualifying clinicians for education loan repayment grants. These sites may include:

  • Hospital primary care practices
  • Private practices
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Community outpatient facilities
  • Community mental health facilities
  • Free medical clinics

For awards issued to practitioners employed by Delaware health care facilities, hospitals and health systems must provide a 50% match for loan repayment awards.

Priority consideration will be given to Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research (DIMER)-participating students and participants in Delaware based residency programs. Delaware is one of four states that does not have its own medical school. To accommodate the growing demand for primary care physicians across the state, the General Assembly created DIMER to support affiliated agreements with two medical schools in Philadelphia: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and Thomas Jefferson, Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC). A minimum of 120 academic seats are reserved annually (80 at Sidney Kimmel and 40 at PCOM) for Delaware residents applying to an allopathic or osteopathic degree program. New DIMER graduates are eligible for HCPLRP.

Delaware’s Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program application is available online.

Applications are now accepted on a rolling basis and will be reviewed on the following schedule:
June 1, 2022*
Aug. 1, 2022*
Oct. 1, 2022

* Applicants in the June 1 and August 1 review cycles must have completed their graduate medical education by July 2021 or sometime thereafter. Applicants in the Oct. 1 review cycle must complete their graduate education by 2022 or sometime thereafter.

In addition to the state-sponsored Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program, Delaware has operated a federal state loan repayment program (SLRP) supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SLRP offers similar incentives: up to $200,000 for four-year contractual agreements to provide services in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. Where SLRP differs from HCPLRP is in designated areas of need, eligible professional disciplines, types of health care employment facilities that qualify, and date of graduation in respective disciplines.

To learn more about Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program and the federal state loan repayment program, visit the Health Care Commission’s website.

This article was originally posted on the Delaware Government website at:

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UOVO Protects Precious Artworks and Collectibles in Delaware

Inspired by Hurricane Sandy, UOVO specializes in storage of precious artworks and collectibles

The final days of October 2012 wrought havoc on the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine as Hurricane Sandy moved from Jamaica up the U.S. coast, its post-tropical remnants eventually merging with a nor’easter off the coast of New Jersey and turning west to slam into northern New Jersey and New York City.

The storm inflicted an estimated $78.7 billion in damages along its path, and the flooding of lower Manhattan also dealt a violent blow to the galleries in Chelsea at the center of the city’s contemporary art community, with one art dealer estimating that the losses to the art world would total in the “hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Among those who suddenly realized how vulnerable artwork and priceless collectibles could be in the face of Mother Nature were Steven Guttman, a prominent collector of contemporary art and modern furniture, and fellow collectors Steve Novenstein and Nick Coslov, executives in the self-storage company Storage Deluxe. Novenstein and Coslov had already created an art storage facility in the Bronx as an offshoot of Storage Deluxe when the three recognized a need in the market for safer and more secure art storage on a much larger scale.

From that idea born of tragedy, the three created UOVO, a dedicated art storage and services company that opened its first facility in New York’s Long Island City in 2014. The company has now expanded nationwide and includes a 50,000-square-foot facility in Newark, Delaware.

UOVO, which means “egg” in Italian, does what the name might suggest – protecting delicate and valuable artworks and collectibles for private clients, artists, corporations and museums.

At eight floors and 280,000 square feet, the Long Island City location was the first of its kind, said Andrew Barron, Director of Marketing for UOVO. “It was really remarkable in terms of the architectural ingenuity, the level of detail and the security climate.”

Since then, the company has expanded to include three more facilities in the New York metropolitan area – one in Brooklyn and two in Rockland County – as well as West Palm Beach and Miami in Florida, two facilities in the San Francisco Bay area, and Delaware. Additional facilities in Denver, Colorado, and Dallas, Texas, are forthcoming this year.

For those not plugged into the world of museums and fine art, it might come as a surprise that such a network of storage facilities didn’t already exist. But Barron notes that much of the transport and storage of art previously was handled by traditional moving companies.

“The industry was pretty mom-and-pop and emerged in tandem with the contemporary art world,” he said. “With UOVO, we redefined the industry standard. At our facilities, we have a number of gallery-quality viewing rooms for clients to use for private showings and photoshoots and for conservators to use for conservation work. I would say that, before UOVO, art storage facilities weren’t places anyone went to visit. UOVO really recentered the facility as a space where collectors, museum professionals, gallery registrar advisors and other types of clients want to be.”

The UOVO buildings themselves are distinctive but unassuming, similar to any anonymous but well-designed office building you might see on the edge of a large city or along a stretch of interstate. But what they lack in exterior flash they make up for with amenities, safety and security.

Lobbies and public spaces are designed to be warm and welcoming – more like the lobby of an upscale office building than a warehouse – and some sites include client cafés with cold brew on tap.

“We really invest in the client experience, and we think of our client experience team, along with our account managers, as the face of the brand,” Barron said. “It’s the first interaction a lot of clients have with us.”

Security is discrete but high, and buildings are designed with safety features based on their locations. The south Florida facilities are hardened against flooding and Class 5 hurricanes, while the California sites are designed to withstand earthquakes and wildfires.

UOVO clients can range from private collectors, galleries, large and small museums and art brokers, all of whom can use the UOVO sites in different ways, Barron said. For private collectors, UOVO allows them to rotate art through their homes knowing that what isn’t currently hung is safely stored. Private dealers appreciate the viewing rooms for showing works to clients, especially if the dealers don’t maintain their own brick-and-mortar galleries. Those traditional galleries, meanwhile, can use UOVO as a space to display works outside of their exhibition schedule for a potential buyer.

On the surface, UOVO’s decision to add a storage facility in Delaware might seem incongruous, but Barron said it makes perfect sense for the type of clients UOVO serves.

“Specifically thinking about New York and south Florida, as we expanded beyond the New York metro region, we thought about the different points of connectivity that matter most to our clients,” he said. “And we hadn’t had a way to service those clients, specifically institutional clients, who are based closer to Delaware, whether it’s Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., or Baltimore. So having the Delaware facility creates a space between New York and Florida and really gives us that network all along the eastern seaboard.”

And as Delawareans know, there’s no shortage of museums, historic homes and estates, and private collectors in the First State. Barron said UOVO’s presence will provide the resources to these clients that might have previously been out of reach.

“We accommodate all kinds of clients. In looking at institutional clients, we service world renowned museums and also small, local museums who are really community-based and -focused but who also have logistics or storage needs,” Barron said. “So certainly, it’s about servicing local enterprises as much as it is about being a point of connectivity for our national network.”

In coming to Delaware, Barron said the partnerships it formed through the Delaware Prosperity Partnership eased its entry into the First State. UOVO has since returned the favor by embarking on a five-year partnership with the University of Delaware’s Museum Studies program. Called Collections Aid, the program allows graduate students to get hands-on collection management experience at local museums and archives.

“It also helps these smaller institutions that maybe don’t have in-house staff members to do some of the work they need,” he said. “It’s a win-win for the community.”

This article was originally posted on the Delaware Prosperity Partnership website at:

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Beebe Healthcare’s Dr. David Tam is DBT Large Nonprofit CEO of the Year

Beebe Healthcare’s President & CEO Dr. David Tam Named Delaware Business Times CEO of the Year

LEWES (May 16, 2022) – David A. Tam, MD, MBA, CPHE, FACHE, President & CEO, Beebe Healthcare, has been named Delaware Business Times CEO of the Year in the Large Nonprofit category.

Dr. Tam will be honored at a July 14 charity golf outing, dinner and awards presentation at Deerfield Golf Club in Newark.

“On behalf of the Board, congratulations to Dr. Tam for being recognized as CEO of the Year,” said Terry Megee, Board Chair, Beebe Healthcare Board of Directors. “Dr. Tam is an incredible leader. He is passionate, caring, empathetic, and truly lives Beebe’s Values. We have full confidence in him to lead this next phase of continued growth and excellent quality care for Beebe in Sussex County.”

This March, Dr. Tam entered his third year at the helm of Beebe Healthcare after arriving as the COVID-19 pandemic came to Delaware. While the bulk of the early demands as CEO of a not-for-profit independent community health system revolved around COVID-19, Dr. Tam’s and Beebe’s focus have shifted toward being the healthcare provider of choice for Sussex County.

“I’m incredibly honored to be selected for this award among the many great leaders throughout Delaware,” Dr. Tam said. “This recognition would not be possible without the dedication and passion of the Board of Directors, Executive Staff, leadership, Medical Staff and every member of Team Beebe. While I’m thankful, there is still much work to do for the people of Sussex County and those who visit and work here. Beebe is focused on growing access to care across the spectrum of services and people in Sussex County.”

Beebe has added more than 100 physicians and providers in the last two years with a continued emphasis on growing with Sussex County. These providers include wide range of specialties from hospitalist to primary care and surgeons. Beebe’s pursuit to provide the best healthcare in Sussex County does not end with growing its award-winning Medical Staff.

The Specialty Surgical Hospital on the Rehoboth Health Campus opens May 16 for its first patient, who is having an orthopedic procedure. The Surgical Hospital will provide top quality care and experience in a space dedicated to planned, short-stay and outpatient procedures.

As the Specialty Surgical Hospital nears its open, Beebe continues to receive incredible community support. The Beebe Medical Foundation received three-year restricted grant of $370,000 from the Carl M. Freeman Foundation to help fund the purchase of a new Beebe Healthcare Mobile Health Clinic that will serve Sussex County. The mobile unit and Beebe’s dedicated team will be able to offer individuals and communities in need a low-barrier access point to integrated treatment, programs, and services.

“You can see the dedication of Team Beebe as we focus on healthcare from all angles in Sussex County for all people because Sussex County is Our Specialty,” Dr. Tam said. “We have been serving the community for more than 100 years, and I’m very excited for the future of healthcare in Sussex County in the coming years.”

Beebe Healthcare is a not-for-profit community healthcare system with a charitable mission to encourage healthy living, prevent illness, and restore optimal health for the people who live in, work in, and visit the communities we serve. Beebe Healthcare has three campuses: the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus, which houses the medical center; the Rehoboth Health Campus; and the South Coastal Health Campus. Beebe Healthcare offers primary care as well as specialized services in the areas of cardiovascular, oncology, orthopaedics, general surgery, robotic surgery and women’s health. Beebe also offers walk-in care, lab, imaging and physical rehabilitation services at several locations throughout Sussex County, in addition to a home health program and a comprehensive community health program.

For more information about Beebe Healthcare, visit

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Wilmington Is Becoming the It City Next Door

Thanks to a resurgent downtown — the passion project of a pair of native sons — and a red-hot dining scene, our region’s second city is building quite the buzz. What does that mean for Philly — and for Wilmington?

The bar is three or even four people deep, making it tough to get through the door. Inside, millennials and boomers alike are sipping fancy cocktails and bubbly, eager to catch a glimpse of four-time James Beard Award winner Andrew Zimmern, whose Bizarre Foods show ran for a dozen years on the Travel Channel.

If you didn’t reserve a table weeks ago, you’re not getting in. Though this is mid-February, it’s the warmest night of the year — and anyway, for everyone here, the weather doesn’t matter. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Those in the dining room know it, and so does the giddy kitchen crew. They huddle up like a football team anticipating kickoff and let out a “woo” before service starts.

Zimmern flew in to raise money for the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which formed during the pandemic to lobby Washington for restaurant funding. He’s collaborating here with Bardea’s chef, Antimo DiMeo, to serve 90 guests at $275 a head. A neighboring hotel generously lent dozens of extra glasses to accommodate the night’s five wine pairings.

A big mix of people has turned out, from flannel-clad hipster types to ladies in little black dresses to empty nesters clinking champagne flutes as they’re seated. At one point, I look out the window as a white Maserati Spyder pulls up for the valet.

I’ve been a food writer in Philly for the better part of a decade. I get to go to dinners like this often. And here I am, enjoying my lightly cured Wagyu beef cheek carpaccio and surf clam with sustainable caviar — but I don’t know anybody in the room.

That’s because I’m not in Philly. I’m in Wilmington, Delaware.

I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. When I mention checking out Wilmington to Philly friends, reactions have ranged from “Oh. Really?” to “F*** no.” I get it. I’m a born-and-raised Philadelphian, and I had never been to Joe Biden’s adopted hometown before 2020.

For decades, the 17-square-mile city was known primarily as the home of DuPont, a land of banks and businesses, a tax haven … and not much else. Everyone there used to say of Wilmington that at 5 p.m., they rolled up the sidewalks.

I came for the food. When Philly chef Tyler Akin opened Le Cavalier at the historic Hotel du Pont, I hopped on I-95. When DiMeo’s Bardea landed on the 2019 James Beard Award semifinalists list (a feat it repeated this year), I took another drive to Wilmington. I became hooked. I found a downtown with spacious restaurants and bars, freshly paved roads, striking architecture, and streets as clean as Disney World. Though it’s approximately 40 minutes from crowded, trash-challenged, noisy Center City, where I live, this place felt a world away from Philly.

“We’re becoming Philly’s hip little cousin,”  says Tim Furlong, NBC 10’s Delaware bureau reporter and a native of the area. “Wilmington is on the cusp of something enormous.”

Of course, downtown Wilmington’s 10-block main drag isn’t enormous, but it’s got the makings of “the next Fishtown,” as Bardea co-owner Scott Stein, a longtime Philly restaurateur and bar owner, puts it. The past decade brought destination restaurants, an urban beer garden, a live music venue, and a growing collection of independent businesses, many of them owned by Black entrepreneurs. Market Street is home to coffee shops, art galleries, a juice bar, a leather-goods atelier, boutiques, a tattoo studio catering to BIPOC and LGBTQIA clientele. That’s all on top of the city’s existing attractions, which include a waterfront park, a pretty riverwalk, Underground Railroad sites, bike trails, professional theaters, art museums and nearby gardens.

They don’t roll up the sidewalks anymore. Downtown Wilmington’s millennial population increased by nearly 15 percent between 2014 and 2019.

It’s no fluke. Over the past two decades, two Wilmington-native brothers and their now-powerhouse company, Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG), have invested $1.6 billion into developing the city’s downtown. They’ve filled 3,100 new apartments, personally recruited top chefs, and opened their own entertainment and sports venues.

Guess where a third of BPG’s newest residents came from? Pennsylvania.

As millennials left dense cities in search of comfier, cheaper and, perhaps, less COVID-stringent work-from-home locales during the pandemic, many found downtown Wilmington. Companies, particularly in the fintech space, with its high-paying jobs, are following them.

The last time Zimmern was in town, eight years ago, he found a Wilmington that was “a little bit down on its luck.” And today? “Wilmington is where Birmingham was 10 years ago, when you could sense something really big was happening,” the celebrity chef tells me. “There’s still a lot to be done here, but you can feel the energy.”

Philadelphia has pretty much always existed in New York City’s long shadow, but in the Delaware Valley, we’ve been the only game in town. Now, here comes Wilmington.

Our little cousin is growing up. Should Philly watch its back?

EVERYONE IN DELAWARE’S BIGGEST CITY BRAGS about its accessibility. It’s right off I-95, it has a busy Amtrak station, it’s closer to Philly’s international airport than many Philly suburbs, and it’s a quick trip away from New York or Washington, D.C. Though the population is just over 70,000, some 50 million people live within a 250-mile radius.

But before planes, trains and automobiles, the area’s waterways — the Delaware, the Christina, the Brandywine — brought people and industry to Wilmington. That’s why, legend has it, Thomas Jefferson called this a “jewel” among states — which might be where its nickname of “the Diamond State” originated.

More importantly, access to the Brandywine River is why Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours set up his gunpowder works in Wilmington — the inception of his family name becoming synonymous with the city. “They were the largest supplier of gunpowder to all the Allies for World War I and World War II. Then they started branching out more broadly to chemistry. And they bought a big interest in General Motors in 1910,” Ben duPont, a seventh-generation member of the family and a Wilmington native, tells me. “Their products are from nylon to Lycra to Teflon to Kevlar and on and on and on.” (Apologies to the strict grammarians: Everyone in the DuPont/duPont/Du Pont orbit styles the family name differently.)

Easily one of the most important companies in American history, DuPont at one time employed tens of thousands of downtown workers. The family’s wealth created a rich cultural infrastructure — theaters, museums, gardens, a grand opera house.

By the 1940s, more than 112,000 people lived in the city. Then I-95 moved in. In the 1950s and ’60s, construction of the major highway cut the city in half. Hundreds of homes and two churches were demolished — and the city found itself segregated, mostly along racial lines. Crime in impoverished neighborhoods rose and ushered in the “white flight” that many cities experienced in the second half of the 20th century.

Things went downhill from there. 

“Wilmington has the dubious distinction of being the domestic city with the longest martial occupation,” says Ashley Cloud, club executive for the Rotary Club of Wilmington and a local history enthusiast. After the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, a peaceful vigil led by clergy in Rodney Square, in the shadow of DuPont’s downtown HQ, was followed by fires, broken windows, rock-throwing — disorder that many cities experienced after the tragic killing. The governor sent in the National Guard, which restored order in a couple of days — and then set up camp.

“The National Guard doesn’t leave us for nine months,” Cloud explains. “Nine months of guards patrolling with rifles, crow’s nests on top of some buildings, enforced curfews … ” She says the emotional ramifications of that occupation are still with Wilmingtonians, especially in Black neighborhoods. It also sent more residents running to the ’burbs. By the 1980s, nearly half of the pre-I-95 population had fled, taking their tax dollars with them.

It was time for a pivot. In 1981, Governor Pete duPont (that’s Ben’s dad) signed a bill that liberalized restrictions on credit-card banks. Within months, nearly a dozen had moved in, bolstering a local financial-services industry that employs 40,000 people. 

Low taxes at all levels — Delaware has no sales tax, no inventory tax, the fourth lowest property taxes in the U.S., and low corporate taxes — have made this the place to be for businesses. Wilmington is headquarters for two Fortune 500 companies and five more in the Fortune 1,000. It’s also “home” to tens of thousands of other businesses that incorporate there yet maintain little more than a P.O. box. In 2012, the New York Times wrote that Delaware had more corporate entities than people. Two-thirds of all Fortune 500 companies are incorporated there, according to the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. Google “Corporate Capital of the World” and Delaware comes right up.

Of course, that means Wilmington is hit harder than peer cities during recessions, when governmental policies change, or when companies merge/close/relocate.

In the early 2000s, MBNA employed more than 10,000 workers in Delaware, making it the state’s largest private-sector employer, according to the Delaware News Journal. At one point, “Almost every American had an MBNA-issued credit card,” Cloud says. Then, Bank of America bought the giant and began selling off MBNA’s assets. More empty buildings.

Even when bank business was booming, that success didn’t translate into an exciting downtown. “We didn’t have anybody living here,” the city’s current mayor, Mike Purzycki, recalls. For decades, Market Street, Wilmington’s 10-block main drag, looked nothing like it does today. Wilmington native Oba Jackson, now the owner of Push Tattoo Studio just off Market Street, remembers the area as a “ghost town” that opened at around 11 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m.

As the downtown goes, so goes the rest of the city. Crime rose, and poverty increased.

In 2014, Newsweek ran a now-infamous headline calling Wilmington “Murder Town USA” after a record 27 homicides were committed in the city of around 71,000 residents. That number may sound low to Philadelphians today, but it was more per capita than our record high in 2021. Crime was, and still is, a problem for Wilmington. In this way, it’s no different from any other city in the COVID era. 

That same year, DuPont abruptly moved its headquarters out of downtown Wilmington, presenting an existential crisis for the city that had been linked with the chemical giant for 107 years.

“You would think the whole city would have fallen in like a deck of cards when they left, but we didn’t,” Cloud recalls. “The same thing with MBNA. It was shocking, sure … but Wilmington is pretty nimble at recovering.” Enter the Buccini brothers.

ROB BUCCINI AND I ARE RUNNING IN AND OUT of construction sites. We’re in the skeleton of what will soon be a 24-room luxury hotel in a Frank Furness-designed brownstone. Though we’re getting the side-eye from carpenters and electricians, Rob, 53, in a new blue suit and brown leather dress boots, isn’t shy. He grew up in a construction family. He fist-bumps people as we walk through their work zone to get a look at a subterranean bar they’re building.

I’m in town for a tour with Rob and his brother Chris, 50, the Wilmington natives who’ve changed the face of the city by investing in its downtown over the past two decades. We start our drive in the leafy neighborhoods north of downtown, with their mix of townhouses and stately homes. Once we cross I-95 into downtown Wilmington, excitement builds in the cab of Rob’s black Yukon. The brothers are pointing out construction cranes, buildings, and empty lots set to become something new. Occasionally talking over each other, Rob and Chris have a lot to show off.

The Queen, a centuries-old concert hall at 5th and Market that seats 400, stood vacant for 55 years — so long that when BPG took over, the roof was barely there, and a “colored section” sign from the 1950s still hung in the balcony. The Queen has that frozen-in-time feeling, like Philly’s Divine Lorraine and the Met. Today, it hosts monthly drag brunches and local comedians, and it recently played host to the likes of Ingrid Michaelson and the now-late Biz Markie. The venue’s manager, Sam Blumin, just left a job with Live Nation in Los Angeles to come to Wilmington.

At the top of Market Street, the 217-room Hotel du Pont was built in the early 1900s as part of DuPont’s corporate headquarters. It’s grand, with 12 stories of Italian Renaissance architecture outside and Gilded Age design on the inside. BPG bought it from DuPont in 2017 and has since added DECO, a food hall and bar that’s just as popular among the lunch crowd as with the happy-hour set, and Le Cavalier, a French brasserie helmed by Wilmington native Tyler Akin, known for Philly restaurants Stock and Res Ipsa, two now-closed Best of Philly winners.

Over the years, the Buccinis have learned that if you want something done right, you do it yourself. That’s how they ended up not just owning but running the historic hotel — and a host of other Wilmington attractions that draw people to the city. 

With properties — office buildings, residential buildings, retail, sports, entertainment, and about 50 hotels, including brand-new Virgin Hotels in Nashville and New Orleans — throughout 22 states, Rob and Chris bring the best ideas they find in other places back to Wilmington. They especially like affordable cities with pro-business governments, great food scenes, and “a ton of hometown pride.” They’re modeling nightlife and entertainment offerings in Wilmington after newly hip cities like Nashville, Greenville in South Carolina, and Durham in North Carolina.

Nashville is where Chris got the idea for Maker’s Alley, a downtown indoor/outdoor bar. BPG also opened and runs the city’s first beer garden, Constitution Yards, on the riverfront. The company’s newest downtown destination, Wilma’s, features bowling and New Orleans-themed fare in a former bank. Across the Christina River from downtown, we head to BPG’s three-year-old, 161,000-square-foot indoor sports complex. It’s home to a 2,500-seat arena where the 76ers’ G League team, the Delaware Blue Coats, plays, along with a full-size soccer pitch that’s been drawing youth sports tournaments to Wilmington.

Outside, BPG recently added emerald green turf fields with stadium lighting. We’re on the edge of one of the city’s lower-income neighborhoods, Southbridge, and you can see public housing from the fields. Hanifa Shabazz, a former City Council president who heads up the nascent Southbridge CDC, says the group is “organizing quickly to make sure that we are at the table” as development continues and is focused on transportation, education, housing and infrastructure goals. BPG has begun programs with local kids in an effort to democratize the sparkling compound. But it’s a stark visual reminder of the socio-economic duality Wilmington still faces, and the challenge of equitable growth.

I MET SONDRA WOODRUFF outside her apartment building on lower Market Street. She was walking her Maltese, and I was checking out the architecture. You can’t miss the Cooper, a BPG building with a cast iron facade built in 1874 and a Scandinavian-influenced courtyard. A onetime recording artist who toured with the Backstreet Boys, Woodruff moved to Wilmington for a job with a leading financial institution.

The Pittsburgh native, by way of Manhattan, had never been to the city before. “Everyone asked why Wilmington, and I asked why not?” she says. She liked the idea of moving to a city with a majority Black population and loves that there are Black-owned businesses right on her street. As a musician, she’s been enjoying the city’s live-music venues, street fairs with bands, and summertime jazz festival. Woodruff likens her neighborhood to a small Manhattan strip, “like the East Village or something.”

Back in 1999, when the Buccinis bought their first property, the Wilmington that Woodruff describes would have felt impossible. “Everyone in Delaware was like, ‘You guys are crazy’,” Chris remembers with a laugh.

That’s because at ages 31 and 27, Rob and Chris borrowed $25 million to buy two of DuPont’s downtown headquarters buildings, Nemours and Brandywine. Goldman Sachs was also bidding, but DuPont picked the local brothers. “I had $70,000 in credit-card debt, I was in a one-bedroom rental, no wife, no kids, a leased car,” Rob says. Or, as Chris puts it, “We had no money” and “no idea what we were doing.”

They’d both been working in New York City after college — Rob in construction/development and Chris at a real estate investment bank. Coming from a construction family, both always knew they’d work in the industry and would eventually land back in the Wilmington area.

The DuPont deal wasn’t so much a triumphant return home as a leap of faith — at a time when no one was betting on Wilmington. Few people lived downtown, which struggled with crime and with vacancy, especially in its historic buildings. As DuPont gradually left town, even office buildings were emptying. “We were on the tipping edge of becoming Camden or Chester,” Ted Blunt, another former Council president and a North Philly native, recalls. Like Wilmington, those cities once thrived as industrial hubs with busy commercial waterfronts but fell into disrepair as industry left in the late 20th century.

Call it luck or strategic long-term thinking, but DuPont did leave the city with a gift: As part of the deal to buy the office buildings, BPG had to build 55 apartment units downtown. “No market-rate housing had been built downtown in half a century,” Chris says. “DuPont wanted to do a little something to help spark a fire.”

With tens of thousands of people working downtown, there was hope that at least some would want to cut their commutes and walk to work. To everyone’s surprise, those units filled up. So the Buccinis took it to the streets. “Door by door, we went and knocked and bought 28 buildings on Market Street. We wanted to create this district that was authentic, organic, no chain restaurants — the anti-mall, basically,” Chris says.

Cue the Field of Dreams reference: With each apartment building the brothers built, new people moved downtown. Most were young professionals working in the area’s banks, law firms and hospitals. Yet downtown’s streets still emptied on nights and weekends — you couldn’t even get a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning at one point. “The one thing that was missing from downtown Wilmington was people,” former mayor James Baker, whose three terms, from 2001-2013, coincided with BPG’s early development, told Rob and Chris.

bardea wilmington

Bardea restaurant owners Scott Stein and Antimo DiMeo.

Chris remembers saying, “Rob, there’s nothing to do after work. We need six new bars.” Enter Merchant Bar, Constitution Yards, Stitch House Brewery, DECO, Maker’s Alley, Wilma’s — all opened in the past five years. BPG took care of that caffeination issue, too: It now operates two Starbucks locations and its own cafe, I.M. Coffee.

Over the years, the brothers personally recruited popular restaurateurs to open downtown. “It started with Brian Sikora, who was at A.Kitchen and took the leap to come into downtown Wilmington to open La Fia,” Rob says. “Then the late Scott Morrison of Chelsea Tavern, Antimo and Scott at Bardea, Tyler at Le Cav, and now the Mulherin’s people” (more on that later). And since no one wants to drive home after a night out, a soccer tournament at the Fieldhouse, or a concert at the Queen, BPG built the city’s first new hotels in decades. The company that started out as a couple of guys who had no idea what they were doing has grown into a $6 billion operation, with more than 900 employees in Wilmington (and another 3,100 total nationwide).

They’re following in DuPont’s footsteps, and like that storied company, Rob and Chris try to think long-term. BPG has bought about 90 buildings downtown and still owns all of them. The brothers talk a lot about hometown pride, and you can see it on their faces as we speed-walk through their projects — even the ones that haven’t broken ground yet. They have a vision for their Wilmington. “We’re trying to create all these things for people to do, because at the end of the day, entertainment and food — that’s what changes cities,” Chris says.

LIKE ANY GOOD LITTLE COUSIN, Wilmington is taking pages from Philly’s playbook. We revitalized our downtown decades ago — an effort led by then-mayor Ed Rendell in the ’90s. Center City District’s Paul Levy, who has been involved since then, walked me through the plan: Recruit restaurateurs, create entertainment offerings, build apartments, keep people in town after work, appeal to business and leisure travelers, create tax incentives for development. Philly did it all, and it worked.

Yet the past few years have changed Philly’s appeal for some city-dwellers. Crime is proliferating, the trash problem is intensifying, loud off-road vehicles sometimes seem to rule the streets, the cost of living is increasing, and there’s a growing sense that the local government has thrown in the towel.

People like me are deciding whether to stay or go … and Wilmington knows it.

Take the trash issue.

“Keeping Wilmington clean has been a priority of my administration from day one,” Mayor Purzycki told me. The city partners with nonprofits to clear litter from downtown and residential neighborhoods. It has also cracked down on illegal dumping, sweeps the streets regularly, and recently distributed new trash bins to 21,000 homes.

Rob Buccini, known around town for picking up stray litter, says Wilmington’s cleanliness “will be one of my legacies.” He’s been a squeaky wheel about it for years. 

BPG also stations security guards around town, because, Rob explains, clean and safe streets set the tone for visitors and potential residents. That’s why the parking garages are brightly lit, with cameras all over — and a 24-hour command center that actually watches them: “We want people to feel as safe as possible.”

Restaurant owners I spoke with echoed Rob’s point about cleanliness and safety — and say they’ve found Wilmington an easy place to do business. Want a liquor license? In Delaware, that’ll be a few grand. In Philadelphia, that’ll be a few hundred grand — via a complex, inequitable process.

The phrase “pro-business government” came up a lot in my interviews. Both the  Buccinis (big business) and Oba Jackson, the tattoo-studio owner (small business), tell me that getting permits is pretty easy (in Wilmington, at least; Jackson found the state government unhelpful when he opened his business). It’s a far cry from Philly’s web of complications and dearth of customer service that can make life hell for entrepreneurs.

The ease of doing business is part of why Bardea’s Scott Stein says he and partner DiMeo haven’t even entertained offers to open restaurants in Philly, New York City and D.C. They recently doubled down on Wilmington with pizza and taco stalls in the DECO food hall — and a big-time steakhouse opening this spring.

Mayor Purzycki has made responsiveness a priority, from fixing potholes to wooing new employers, he says: “If you’re an out-of-state CEO, I’ll get back to you in five minutes. Give me another 15, I’ll get the governor on the phone. I know you can’t do that in Pennsylvania, and I know you can’t do that in New York.”

That’s one reason Investor Cash Management, a growing financial-services technology start-up, recently moved its headquarters from Chicago to Wilmington, says CEO Fred Phillips. He considers Wilmington “the payments capital of the U.S.” and adds that the state and city governments “are spectacularly supportive of new technology companies.” ICM plans to hire 395 new employees — and recruit talent from Philly. Phillips also considered San Francisco, Austin, Miami, Chicago and New York but found Wilmington a “Goldilocks solution of a city,” with quality housing, schools and restaurants that make it a “very comfortable, very livable city.”

M&T Bank’s regional president, Nick Lambrow, echoed Phillips’s thoughts: “People could live in Pennsylvania and come in, but we’re finding that people like Delaware. It’s an affordable place to live, and it’s a safe place to raise children.”

Those leafy neighborhoods I mentioned and the close-in suburbs — places like Trolley Square, the Highlands and Alapocas — offer reasonably priced homes, half the property taxes of the Main Line, and a quick drive into downtown Wilmington for work or play. Compare that to Ardmore or Bryn Mawr, where home prices have soared, taxes are high, and you have to sit on the Schuylkill to get downtown. Consider Wilmington’s accessibility and hot new restaurants, and you get an attractive market.

A BPG executive tells me that 32 percent of its newest tenants moved to Wilmington from Pennsylvania — 13 percent from Philadelphia specifically.

Local real estate broker Chris Patterson says his busy brokerage sells a lot of homes priced around $500,000 — an affordable mortgage for many families. He also notes that transplants are coming from New York City and the West Coast: “They can go from a postage stamp of seven figures-plus in California to three, four, five acres-plus here in Delaware.”

WHEN RICK FITZGERALD RETIRED during the pandemic, he and his wife left East Passyunk in Philly in search of more space and greenery. “We didn’t know Wilmington other than all the great gardens,” he says. Before moving, the food-loving couple frequented Noord and Fond — both of which, it’s worth noting, closed in the past year. “We just assumed we would have to journey back to Philly for great restaurant experiences,” Fitzgerald says. Then they discovered the dining scene in their new backyard.

Gerald Allen Jr., who teaches culinary arts at a local vo-tech high school and sells coveted smoked chickens and noodle soup at pop-ups, used to drive to Philly a few times a week for dinner. The classically trained chef ate at all our top spots but lately has been staying close to home. From takeout tacos and pizza to fine dining, he’s found plenty of good food right in Wilmington.

Center City District’s Levy isn’t too worried about the competition from Wilmington but notes that Philly needs to get better at retaining young people and make it easier to get things done, “whether it’s getting a business license, a liquor license, a building permit” — all of which appear to be driving Wilmington’s resurgence.

Of course, Wilmington is much smaller than Philly. Yet if there are businesses that would have opened here but found it easier to be there, Levy says, “Philadelphia should be concerned. That’s good for Wilmington, but it’s a lesson for Philadelphia.”

Even with a bustling downtown, restaurants and concert venues aren’t enough to revitalize a city. And like Philly, Wilmington has a chasm between the haves and have-nots. More than a quarter of its population lives in poverty, according to the latest census numbers. Violence has long plagued historically Black neighborhoods. In 2021, the city far surpassed the 27 murders that drew the “Murder Town” headline, with 39 killings — “all in a handful of low-income neighborhoods that essentially encircle the central business district,” as WHYY put it.

Though the area has elite private schools and a good charter-school network, the city’s education system doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. Wilmington doesn’t have a traditional public high school. You read that right. There’s a charter school and a vo-tech school, but, Mayor Purzycki admits, “We need a city high school.”

With so many young professionals moving into town, I wondered about gentrification and the displacement of longtime residents. “It’s nowhere on the radar screen for us,” the mayor tells me. The city government has “considerable influence over development” and won’t let developers take over residential neighborhoods, he says.

“Sure, we want to create an environment where BPG and many other people want to develop,” Purzycki says. “But our major focus has to be on that part of our community that’s hurting.” An immediate step: His administration is directing $40 million of its American Rescue Plan Act funding into residential neighborhoods, to clean up blight and help longtime homeowners with needed repairs.

Jackson, the tattoo studio owner, calls what’s going on “rejuvenation,” not “gentrification.” He worries, though, that the latter may be coming next, mentioning that his daughter was recently priced out of her apartment and that several of his friends report being unable to afford rising downtown rents that were reasonable a few years ago. As we’ve seen over the course of Philadelphia’s downtown resurgence and the waves of development it’s spurred, there’s a delicate balance to promoting growth in a way that includes, rather than displaces, the people and businesses who were there before.

Wilmington has problems to solve, and it needs to get this part right, but it’s a “big bucket of potential right now,” NBC 10’s Furlong says. “If they can figure out some of the issues that plague the city, the sky’s the limit.”

Throughout my reporting for this piece, I kept coming back to a question: Is Wilmington putting all its eggs in BPG’s basket? For years, the city depended on DuPont’s outsized presence; then, one day, it was gone. Same thing with MBNA. Is Wilmington becoming a BPG company town? Could history repeat?

Mayor Purzycki says I have it backward: “They’re putting a lot of eggs in the Wilmington basket.” If BPG disappeared tomorrow, the infrastructure it has built would remain, and that’s what matters, he says: “You don’t pick up the Hotel du Pont and take it with you.”

About that DuPont legacy: I ask Ben duPont if his family’s looming presence will fade as Wilmington diversifies and grows. “I hope it’s known for other things,” he quickly answers. A tech entrepreneur himself, Ben founded the nonprofit coding school Zip Code Wilmington and recently bought the DuPont Country Club with the goal of making it more accessible to working families. “While I’m certainly proud of my family’s fingerprints over 200 years,” he says, “I think cities should live and grow.”

And the growth seems set to continue.

BPG delivers about 500 new apartments each year — often opening its new buildings with waitlists. Tech companies and other employers are coming to Wilmington. Mayor Purzycki goes to so many ribbon-cuttings — for businesses big and small — that he’d be smart to buy stock in the company that makes those oversize scissors.

In late summer, the chic boutique hotel that Rob and I walked through will be open, operated by Philly’s Method Co., with a Wm. Mulherin’s Sons-style Italian restaurant, Wilmington’s first rooftop bar, and an underground cocktail lounge.

An 86-acre plot of now-empty land, Riverfront East, will soon become a $100 million development — that will grow to $1 billion-plus by the time it’s done, according to Rob Buccini. It’s being modeled after Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, with offices and apartment buildings — and the plan is to provide jobs and housing opportunities for its Southbridge neighbors.

Wilmington is also considering capping I-95 — something many residents believe would reunite the city physically and ­psychically and perhaps begin healing some of those old wounds.

Wilmingtonians new and old talk about the city like they’re in on a secret no one else has discovered — though real estate and population trends tell us that’s changing. Delaware’s population is growing — by 10.2 percent over the past decade, faster than that of any other state in the Northeast. Pennsylvania only grew 2.4 percent over that period, and it lost population during the pandemic, while Delaware gained new residents. COVID only accelerated an ongoing movement of Americans to lower-density, lower-tax places like Wilmington.

Should Philly be worried about competition from its hip little cousin?

I gave Wilmington’s former City Council president, Ted Blunt, a good laugh with that question. “I don’t think Philadelphia has anything to worry about,” he told me, still chuckling.

Wilmington could probably snag some of our chefs, cool citizens and cachet to become that “next Fishtown.” But at just an eighth of our size, it would be hard for our neighbor to become an actual threat to Philly.

Rob Buccini suggests thinking about it more broadly. Wilmington’s growth is good for Philadelphia, he says: “I think a rising tide lifts all boats.” Besides, in his view, it’s more like our region against other regions — Philadelphia and Wilmington together competing with Dallas-Fort Worth or Raleigh-Durham.

Us — Philly and Wilmington — vs. everyone else? Now, that’s something Philadelphians can get behind. 


Five facts you probably don’t know (unless you’re from Delaware)

1. Count your clucky stars: Locals like to say Delaware is known for four C’s: chemicals, corporations, credit cards and chickens. Yes, chickens. Two hundred million of ’em. The state supplies poultry to much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
2. Delaware was once a part of Pennsylvania! When William Penn first came to America, in 1682, he landed in Delaware and assumed it was part of his land grant. Just after the country declared its independence from the British in 1776, Delaware followed suit and separated from Pennsylvania. It became the first state in 1787. Pennsylvania still acts like it doesn’t care.
3. At just 1,982 square miles, Delaware is very nearly the smallest state, bailed out only by Rhode Island.
4. Although fewer than a million people live in Delaware (989,948 per the 2020 census—it’s getting there!), it has more patents per capita than any other state and is where the majority of Fortune 500 companies and new IPOs are incorporated.
5. Sure, we know President Biden is a Wilmingtonian, but a slightly cooler figure also once called it home: Reggae icon Bob Marley lived there on and off between 1965 and 1977.

Published as “The It City Next Door” in the May 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

This article by Sarah Maiellano was originally posted on Philadelphia magazine at:

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Innovative Chef Maurice Catlett Thrives In Delaware

If you have a passion and you follow it, great things will come your way. For Maurice Catlett, a chef at SoDel Concepts, he may not have realized what exactly would make his life so great, but now living and working in Delaware, he is glad he can say his passion has led him to happiness. Catlett’s love of cooking stems from when he was younger—his father was African American and his mother was Korean, so meals were always an interesting blend of cultures. “Food always brought us together,” says Catlett. Because he loved watching his mother cook, Catlett always knew being a chef was what he wanted, so he worked his way up from being a dishwasher to eventually working on the line at SoDel.

SoDel Concepts is a Rehoboth-based restaurant that owes its success to its passionate and innovative chefs. Since his start at SoDel, Catlett has watched them grow from a mere five restaurants to a total of twelve across the state of Delaware. The restaurant has become more than just a place to eat: it’s somewhere to enjoy good food cooked by chefs who really care. In addition, the nonprofit organization SoDel Cares was started to assist the community by providing grants, with the goal of helping children, at-risk adolescents and adults, and the elderly.

A Passion for Cooking

“My name’s Maurice Catlett. I’m a corporate chef with SoDel Concepts. You know, growing up my passion’s always been cooking. Started off at the bottom, dish-, you know, dish-washer slash prep, jumped into that and loved it, you know, and grew rapidly, pretty fast with this company.

When I started we had, what, one, two, three, I think we had five restaurants at the time. You know, now we’re at 12 restaurants. It’s amazing. Food is everything, you know? We didn’t have a lot growing up. Food always brought us together.

I have a background of soul food and Asian food. My father was African American, my mother was Korean. Thanksgiving would be turkey, we’d have ribs, collard greens, and then we’d have kimchi. But those were the times, like, I would always remember, like, the best times of, you know, growing up, and family barbecues. And my mother’s a great cook.

I learned a lot just from watching her, and that’s where I got a lot of my passion from. I love the beach area. That’s why I’m here. I’m raising my children here. I love being by the water. I love the people here, the community. I moved down here one summer and never left.”

An Exceptional Place to Live

As SoDel restaurants appear across the state, it goes to show that Delaware houses top-rated places to eat. There is something for everyone, as enjoyment can be found in either the food or through other attractions the state has to offer. Not only does Catlett feel passionately about where he works and the food that he makes, but he also extends this love to the state of Delaware itself. After moving to Delaware one summer, Catlett knew this is where he wanted to stay, as he loves the beach, and he proudly raises his family in this community he has come to love and admire. Delaware is full of people like Catlett who care about what they do, and they all contribute to making Delaware an exceptional place to live and visit.

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