The Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) held its first board meeting on October 20, 2017, at the new CSC® global headquarters in Wilmington. A 501c3 partnership created by legislation and signed into law by Governor Carney this past summer, the DPP combines the resources of the private sector and government to further economic growth in The First State. The board is co-chaired by Governor Carney and Rod Ward, CEO of CSC. John Riley was elected by the board as Interim CEO of the DPP, and a temporary office has been set up at One Commerce Center in Wilmington. John will focus on launching the initiative and recruiting a permanent CEO through a national search process. As the state’s primary resource for recruiting new business to Delaware, John will also work with the Delaware Office of Small Business, Development and Tourism under Cerron Cade’s direction to ensure a smooth transition of current projects and new opportunities.
As plans were being made to launch the DPP, the Amazon HQ2 project was announced. While the state government took the lead in responding to the proposal, it presented the opportunity to bring in people and resources from the private sector to support the project, and to closely examine Delaware’s location and workforce advantages, not just for Amazon, but for other prospects going forward. One of the exciting digital marketing tools that came out of the project was the “Options in Delaware” video. As you can see, while it was developed as part of the Amazon response, it is a great representation of Delaware, and suitable for use in other ways, including recruiting talent to the state.
In addition to setting up an office, the DPP has launched an initial website, deprosperitypartnership.com, that includes basic information about the partnership and Delaware. In the coming weeks the site will be populated with additional information and ultimately become a resource for current Delaware businesses, as well as for those outside the state looking for a great place to expand or relocate.
by James DeChene
June 7th was the Chamber’s End of Session Legislative Brunch held at Dover Downs. Over 200 attendees heard from Ed Ratledge, Director of the Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research at University of Delaware, and Bob Perkins, Executive Director of the Delaware Business Roundtable, on issues impacting Delaware, the state budget going forward, and how best to foster economic development growth. Among the highlights were items previously mentioned in this space:
Attendees also heard from Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride and Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, who highlighted the state’s budget issues, their respective positions on economic development legislation, including modernizing the Coastal Zone Act, and the reorganization of the Delaware Economic Development Office. They also stressed the need for increased revenues to fund health care and education, the state’s two fastest growing expenses, which together account for over half of the budget. Their remarks adumbrated the potential for further revenue increases beyond the Governor’s proposed 50-50 split of new revenue and expense reductions.
The House Natural Resources Committee voted 9-1 to release HB 190, a bill to modernize the Coastal Zone Act. It will face a floor vote next week. The hearing featured passionate testimony from both supporters and opponents, with supporters focusing on the need for the redevelopment of industrial sites currently a blight on Delaware’s landscape. Chamber President Rich Heffron suited up (literally and figuratively) to deliver the Chamber’s position of support. More updates to come next week as the bill continues to see action.
By James DeChene
This week JFC met and voted to cut about $33 million from state spending, including eliminating the State Board of Education. Future meetings, and the process, have been put on hold until legislators pass a series of revenue packages equal to approximately $190 million. To date, the House has passed a measure to raise the Corporate Franchise Tax by $115 million, where it now faces action in the Senate. As has been discussed a, 50-50 split between new revenues and spending cuts concatenate to form the mechanism to balance the budget.
Next week the General Assembly returns for June, with 13 legislative days left until the end of session on June 30. There are a number of hearings next week important to the business community, including HB190, which would update the Coastal Zone Act, a State Chamber of Commerce legislative priority. Also in committee will be a bill related to escheat that provides a number of technical corrections to SB13, an escheat bill passed earlier in the year.
by James DeChene
Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) met on April 19, and the news stemming from their latest forecast continues to be cause for concern. DEFAC anticipates the state will bring in about $4.8 million less this year and $11 million less in 2018. Between expenditure savings made by the state, an additional $9.1 million has been added to the budget gap, meaning the state is now facing a $395 million budget hole. What this means for the Governor’s recommended budget is unclear, as it was crafted to deal with a $386 million shortfall. Most of the decline came from the Corporate Income Tax, which dropped by an additional $14 million in 2017, and $15.8 million in 2018. Those projected losses more than offset $14 million in projected gains in personal income tax revenue this year and next. The next meeting is on May 15.
The General Assembly is back in session next week, and will take up a number of bills relative to the business community, including the Homeless Bill of Rights, the legalization of marijuana, wage history reporting, the lodging tax, along with the continued conversations surrounding an increase in Personal Income Tax rates and increases to Corporate Franchise Taxes. More to come.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.