by James DeChene
This week saw the confirmation of former DEDO director Cerron Cade to fill the vacant Secretary of Labor position. The Chamber looks forward to working with Secretary Cade in this new position on issues important to the business community.
Also this week, HB106 was released from committee, which would add two additional personal income tax brackets at $125,000, with a rate of 7.10%, and an additional bracket of $250,000, with a rate of 7.85%. The State Chamber spoke against the bill, noting that it would add volatility to Delaware’s revenue collection at a time when efforts are being made to make Delaware less reliant on volatile sources of revenue. This reliance has an increasing deleterious impact on the State’s long-term sustainability.
Governor Carney released his recommended budget, an increase of 3.49% over last year, which calls for increased spending on education, public safety and making investments in economic development and workforce development. It also includes an increase in the bond bill, along with $100 million in cash as one-time money for projects. Door openers, including class room growth, employee pensions, child care and transportation, were about $60 million in increases.
It also includes:
$12.5 MM — strategic fund
$2 MM — Prosperity Partnership
$9.6 MM — research collaboration
$19.5 MM — high education capital construction
$391.1 MM -- DELDOT road systems
$6 MM — clean water/drinking water
The Chamber will be monitoring ongoing budget discussions and will update you with pertinent info.
as published by Delaware Business Times
By Roger Morris
Special to Delaware Business Times
Coming off a year when Delaware manufacturing jobs rose by almost one-half percent to about 26,000 workers, jobs growth in 2018 is expected to be similarly modest. According to local manufacturers and those who work in manufacturing-related organizations, three major trends will dominate the sector in the coming year:
Job growth will largely be organic
Most job growth will occur within businesses currently located within the state, with little expectations of immediate major manufacturing relocations to the region.
“One of the challenges we have at the Delaware Manufacturing Association is to reach out to growing companies in the state,” said Neil Nicastro, plant manager at PPG Industries’ Dover facility and a leader in the organization. “We try to get these companies in to discuss the challenges to growth they face, and we have seven sub-groups, such as health, advocacy and energy issues, to help in these areas.”
However, long-term growth may involve the relocation of heavier industries into the region, which was part of the rationale for the state changing some provisions of the Coastal Zone Act, to be more attractive for large manufactures to relocate here. Additionally, there are now recently abandoned locations available between Wilmington and the Pennsylvania border.
“I was very impressed when I recently visited the Navy Ship Yard in Philadelphia, and saw what they were doing,” Nicastro said of the 1,200-acre business campus, which is home to more than 12,000 employees and 152 companies. “I can’t help but think we can do something similar in Delaware.”
Programming and robotics part of training
Most of the jobs and job training will be concentrated on what is called “advance manufacturing” instead of traditional manufacturing skills.
“No employer is using the same machinery they were using 30 years ago,” said Rich Heffron, head of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, which means that new workers need to be trained in skills such as computer programming and robotics.
“The challenge is to find trained employees to replace older workers who are retiring,” Nicastro added.
Nicastro also thinks it’s important for young people to change their idea of manufacturing as a “dark and dirty” place, and he even invites parents to accompany their teens during career events at the PPG plant during the annual National Manufacturing Week.
Soft skills just as important
Employers are increasingly demanding that young potential workers be trained in “soft skills” as well as technical skills.
“We did a survey of state manufacturers to ask what job skills they are currently looking for,” said Paul Morris, head of workforce training at Delaware Technical Community College, “and we were surprised that about 90 percent said they needed better ‘soft’ skills, such as being skilled in leadership, teamwork and problem-solving.”
Nicastro added that some newly hired young employees have little understanding of workplace practices, even about work scheduling, being surprised that “they’re going to have to work a 40-hour week. What we really need is for more companies to provide job internships for training.”
Finally, while recent federal cuts in corporate tax rates may spur growth, James Butkiewicz, professor and chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Delaware, warned, “My concern is that the tax plan increases the fiscal deficit. This will appreciate the dollar and worsen our trade deficit, and this could hurt manufacturing and agriculture.”
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced that it has been selected as 2017 Company of the Year by Instrument Business Outlook (IBO).
IBO is a respected industry newsletter that tracks trends in the laboratory products markets, monitoring hundreds of life science and analytical instrument companies on a daily basis.
Managing Editor Tanya Samazan noted: "Agilent has grown sales since fiscal 2015 while keeping costs constant. The company's fiscal 2017 revenue growth was its fastest since fiscal 2010. Agilent's new investments have also paid off. Changes include an expansion of Agilent's diagnostics business, entry into new markets such as cell analysis and Raman spectroscopy, and additions to successful franchises in NGS sample preparation and LC/MS, among other key product launches."
"We are pleased that IBO has recognized Agilent as their 2017 Company of the Year, citing our impressive growth," said Mike McMullen, Agilent's president and CEO. "Having the right strategy to secure growth is pivotal, but equally crucial is the right team, resolute in their commitment, and with one focus - to provide solutions and services which enable Agilent´s customers to be successful across the all the markets we serve."
The newsletter highlighted Agilent's increased growth in revenues, operating profit, and net income, noting that the gains were the result of a sustained effort to position the company for future growth.
"It is rewarding that an organization with an in-depth knowledge of the industry, such as IBO, recognizes Agilent´s current strategy is the right one resulting in consistent growth," said Patrick Kaltenbach, president of Agilent's Life Sciences and Applied Markets Group. "Growth fueled by our focus on Innovation with Purpose, introducing differentiated solutions to address customer needs, and our strong Operational Excellence in developing, manufacturing and commercialization of our products, all complemented by our recent acquisitions."
IBO is a twice-monthly publication of SDi, a division of BioInformatics LLC, which offers custom market research and consulting, and strategic advisory services. IBO will present the award to Agilent at the annual conference of the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) in San Diego in early February.
Legislators returned to Dover this week. Among items passed, the General Assembly included extending reporting deadlines for the Taskforces on the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana and on School Redistricting. Expect reports to come later in the session.
Also passed this week was a bill creating a committee dedicated solely with how Grant in Aid funding will be administered in the future. Calling for the establishment of a review process, and creating metrics to measure success, the committee will work in conjunction, but separately from JFC to distribute Grant in Aid. Next week will be Governor Carney’s State of the State Address on January 18.
The General Assembly returns next Tuesday with a full plate. Work will commence stemming from taskforces that met over the summer and fall, which include school district redistricting and changes in funding models, and the legalization of recreational marijuana. Thrown into the mix will be legislation to raise money to invest in clean water infrastructure, incentivize angel investors to provide capital to small startups in Delaware, and the fight on minimum wage legislation will no doubt continue. These bills, and ones to come, will be the focus of the Chamber this legislative session, along with continuing to implement legislation passed last year—namely the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the regulations surrounding modernizing the Coastal Zone Act.
In addition, the Chamber will be involved in ongoing budget discussions as the Administration and General Assembly continue to search for ways to address Delaware’s long term economic growth and sustainability. What will be interesting to see this year, is how the Federal tax plan will impact Delaware. Much of what was contained at the Federal level was proposed at the end of last year’s session to help fill a $350 million budget gap, including increasing the standard deduction, reducing itemized deductions, and modifying personal income tax bracket levels. If the projections the state Department of Finance provided last year hold true, that could mean big money for Delaware coffers, and reduce the chances for last minute budget battles this year.
All this, and more, to come. Stay tuned.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.