by James DeChene
Last week news broke that the Diamond State Port Corporation has agreed to purchase the Edge Moor facility from Chemours in an effort to expand the Port of Wilmington, which is nearing its capacity. The State Chamber has supported expansion at the port to take advantage of Delaware’s attractive position in the mid-atlantic region—able to take advantage of the channel, close to the majority of the country’s population, proximity to rail and an interstate highway system that’s a direct pipeline to Chicago and points west. In fact, port expansion was featured prominently in the Delaware Business Roundtable’s Growth Agenda as a driver towards long term economic development and sustainability for the state.
This week in the Governor’s office, two businesses were recognized for their support of the military and veterans through their hiring practices and engagement in the community. Started as an effort by the Joint Military Affairs Committee, featuring a partnership by the State Chamber, New Castle County Chamber, and in conjunction with the Central Delaware Chamber’s Military Committee, the Warrior Friendly Business award is presented each year to a small and large business going above and beyond to ensure those in active duty, or returning from duty, have a job to come home to. Memorialized each year on a plaque prominently displayed in the lobby where visitors to our Governor can review their efforts, this year’s winners were Mission BBQ (small business winner), and JP Morgan Chase (large business winner). Many congratulations and thanks to both winning companies.
You may have seen last week a request from the Division of Revenue looking for feedback from those who use their website to make payments. They are in the process of starting to upgrade their site and online services provided, and are looking to the business community for assistance. There is a survey to take, as well as a small group to be formed to provide feedback as well. If you are interested in meeting with DOR representatives, please contact me. To take the survey, visit: https://revenue.delaware.gov/forms/EDI_Survey.shtml
by Mark DiMaio
The 9th Annual Vision Coalition Conference took place on Monday, November 14th at the University of Delaware’s John Clayton Center. The conference brings together school leaders, educators, elected officials, non-profits and business leaders to focus on improving Delaware’s education system. This year’s meeting theme centered on working to “close the achievement gap” for the state’s disadvantaged and special needs children.
Keynote Speaker, Paul Reville, a Harvard University professor, focused his remarks on addressing persistent achievement gaps especially for students who face hurdles to learning. Professor Reville theme of “all means all” asked stakeholders to focus on policies that ensure that every student can access a quality education.
During the conference, attendees participated in small-group discussions on how Delaware can to a better job of connecting schools to government agencies and nonprofits that provide services linking students and families to health care, language training, shelter and food. Many Delaware teachers are left to assist their student personal issues while still trying to teach. Other discussions concentrated on the state’s decades-old school funding system and the need for increased funding for schools serving students in poverty and English-language learners. There was also the realization that continued tight state budgets with a projected revenue shortfall could limit state funding to address additional student needs.
Dr. Dan Rich, University of Delaware Professor of Public Policy, was awarded the Order of the First State by Governor Jack Markell. Professor Rich received the award for his tireless work to improve education for all Delaware students and service to his fellow Delawareans.
by James DeChene
The impact of the 2016 Election Day results will continue to resonate for the remainder of the year. Above and beyond the obvious implications of Republican Executive and Legislative branches federally, here at home, Delaware has a Senate where a special election in early spring 2017 will dictate which party has control for the remainder of the 149th General Assembly.
The pressing issues, however, remain. A major budget gap expected to be somewhere north of $300 million. An education system in need of reform in order to adequately prepare students for a career. A number of abandoned industrial sites currently sitting vacant, with limited prospects of seeing repurpose into economic development. An aging infrastructure system lacking dedicated funding to maintain, let alone expand, including road, rail, and clean water.
The good news is that I believe that our elected officials in Dover have the ability to make the difficult decisions necessary to help set Delaware on a course of growth. If we take nothing else from this election season, I believe that citizens expect to be engaged by their elected officials to outline the important issues and challenges we face. By doing so, our elected officials will find they are given a large measure of leeway to act in the interests of their constituents by making what are admittedly tough choices. Examples can be seen in Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia and other states where sitting by no longer remained an option for their respective legislatures.
The problems Delaware face are no different than our surrounding states, or many across the country. It is our size and ability to work together to tackle big problems that set us apart. It is my sincere hope that the next General Assembly and Governor work together, and by doing so continue to be an example to other states.
By James DeChene
On November 8th, Delawareans will head to the polls to choose candidates who will face big issues in 2017, both in Congress and here at home. Focusing on Delaware, the next Governor and General Assembly will tackle how our state government raises and spends money, on what programs and services the government will offer, and how to continue to build upon the recovery from the Great Recession. There are no easy answers to these issues, as has been documented in this space over the last months, yet the important issues of long-term economic stability, making Delaware an attractive place for businesses, and properly preparing Delaware students for the workforce remain.
Election Day is your opportunity to help shape the path of Delaware’s future. As Chamber of Commerce members, you are invested in this state, both professionally and personally, as are your employees. The decisions you make next Tuesday in the voting booth will have a direct impact on your life here in Delaware. While you may be suffering, as I certainly am, from election fatigue, I urge you to take the time to learn about the candidates in your district and make an informed decision on November 8th.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.