Local and county officials are hailing last week’s announcement that ILC Dover will soon create 115 new jobs in Sussex County when it expands its operations to a plant outside of Seaford later this year.

Local and county officials are hailing last week’s announcement that ILC Dover will soon create 115 new jobs in Sussex County when it expands its operations to a plant outside of Seaford later this year.

“We are definitely thrilled by this announcement because we know it’s going to have a huge impact on the economy in our area,” Seaford Economic Development Director Tricia Newcomer said Tuesday. “Although the facility is not in our corporate limits, I fully expect that our residents will be taking advantage of the job opportunities it presents.”

Gov. Jack Markell first announced the move during his State of the State Address on Thursday.

The announcement came just a week after ILC Dover, a 66-year-old Frederica-based manufacturing company, perhaps best known for making NASA spacesuits and the airbag system for the Mars rovers, acquired the Georgia-based Grayling Industries.

Company officials said they plan to move Grayling’s production facility from Juarez, Mexico to the Seaford-area facility on Whitehurst Drive. The company will occupy 72,000 square feet of the 121,500-square-foot complex built by DuPont Co. in 1991.

There, Grayling will continue to manufacture protective packaging for food, chemicals and pharmaceutical dry powder and liquid applications. Grayling also manufactures products for asbestos abatement and remediation, including glove bags, decontamination enclosures and chemicals.

The move will be made possible with the assistance of $552,000 in state grants currently awaiting approval from the state’s Council on Development Finance.

“We continue to find the State of Delaware very cooperative in their efforts to help the industry grow and prosper,” ILC Dover CEO William Wallach said in a release. “We are excited to have the opportunity to bring jobs back to the United States and the State of Delaware.”

Company officials said they plan to hire 35 to 40 employees for manufacturing, administrative and other professional positions by April, when work will begin at its new plant. The remainder of new jobs will be filled by the end of the year, ILC global marketing director Doug Durney said.

“We’ll be looking for applicants who have at least a high school diploma with a strong background in math and science,” Durney said. “We want people with high-level attention to detail, some experience with machinery and the ability to read drawings and plans.”

Durney said all job openings and descriptions would be listed under the career section of the company’s website www.ilcdover.com.

Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent said ILC Dover’s decision to bring good-paying manufacturing jobs would provide a “shot in the arm” for the county.

“The loss of good manufacturing jobs, particularly in the Seaford area, coupled with the economic downturn in recent years, has hit some communities harder than others,” he said. This announcement helps lay the groundwork for a more diversified and robust economy in the years to come.”

Sussex County Economic Development Director Julie Wheatley said she also expects the ILC Dover’s impact on the county to extend well beyond the Seaford area.

“The commute for most county residents is 24 minutes, according to the census, so I would imagine people from within a half hour drive of Seaford will be taking advantage of these new jobs,” she said. “And that doesn’t include the new job opportunities with the companies that will serve the new manufacturing facility, including businesses in the shipping trade, equipment sales and general maintenance.”

Wheatley said she believes the new ILC Dover facility also might portend a rising economic tide in Sussex County.

“I don’t believe this is a fluke,” she said. “There’s a lot of pent up energy out there and businesses like this are just starting to relax a little and look at new acquisitions and expansions. As that happens, I think we’re going to see a big increase in economic activity.”