Southern Delaware town embraces change as Georgetown population continues to grow

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A lot has changed in Georgetown over the past two decades. The county seat of Delaware’s southernmost Sussex County has seen its population increase about 60% since 2000. The town’s growth mirrors a burgeoning county and state population and is resulting in a number of changes, including more crowded roadways.

Glendy Vicente, a 24-year-old Latina resident, has grown up with those changes. She fondly remembers streets with farms on one side and houses on the opposite side — a typical example of the rural way of life in Georgetown.

“The last four years, I’ve seen a lot more change,” she said. “I remember growing up, there was mostly forest and fields. There have been a lot of drastic changes between when I was five to now being 24.”

The once little town that we were, it’s now becoming a little bit more populated with businesses and people,” she said.

Delaware has been on a growing trend, with a consistent 1.2% growth rate every year. It’s the sixth-fastest growing state in the country by percent growth, according to the United States Census Bureau statistics.

In April 2020, the state’s total population stood at 989,946. By July 2022, it had risen to 1,019,459, and more recently, in 2023, the population reached 1,031,890. That’s well above the 2000 population, which stood at more than 786,000.

In April 2020, Georgetown had a population of 7,134, and as of July 2022, the population has increased to 7,662. Georgetown had just 4,798 residents in 2000.

Georgetown Mayor Bill West says the population growth and accompanying development investment is due in part to its central location in Sussex and the opportunities available for success.

“[Georgetown is] 16 miles from the beach, 16 miles from the southern end of Delaware, 16 miles from the western side of Delaware into Maryland. So we’re 16 miles from anywhere,” he said. “I’ve always been told by the people of Georgetown, ‘Our kids are moving out. There’s no jobs here,’ that ‘They’ve got to go somewhere else to get a good paying job, and there’s nothing for them here.’  Well, I tried to change that by getting the medical fields into Georgetown… to give our kids an opportunity to stay here and have a good paying job.”

Among the new businesses in Georgetown are PAM Hospital, Sun Behavioral, Beebe Hospital, hotels, and the construction of a new family court on Main Street. According to West, Chick-fil-A, Jersey Mike’s, and Popeyes are also expected to soon join the town’s business landscape.

“It’s a two-way street, that’s part of economic development,” said West. “You build and they will come, you build and people from other towns come.”

The influx of new businesses has also led to the expansion of housing options. As a result, the town has a few housing projects on its radar, with a particular focus on aiding those in need. That’s inspired by the success of initiatives like Pallet Village, a group of tiny homes providing shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

“We’re looking at some workforce housing, and we changed some coding to make them closer together so we could get more in there to make it affordable,” he said. “We’re also looking at a section of cottages. [The] small cottages would be a step up from the homeless shelter or ‘the Pallet Village.’”

  • January 5, 2024
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