A message from the DSCC Chairman of the Board, Chip Rossi
Click here to read this message in the September/October issue of Delaware Business magazine!
The most important role of any chamber of commerce is to help its members succeed. Earlier this year, we asked all of you what you wanted from your state chamber of commerce. While most of your responses aligned to topics that we are working on today, we learned a few things that are helping us better serve you in the future.
You told us that the most important area of support is the role that we play advocating for legislation on key issues. Whether discussing the commercial impacts of the Coastal Zone Act or encouraging legislation that provides greater access to capital for small business owners, we strive to be a consistent voice at the legislative table. These discussions, and others like it, ensure that the interests of our members are represented in the legislative debates that affect how Delaware does business.
You also asked us to continue to work with the state to find new ways to drive sustainable revenue growth in Delaware. The budget shortfall continues to widen as the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) reduces revenue projections faster than the state assembly can identify ways to reduce spending. This is an opportunity for us, as business advocates, to continue to encourage state and local leaders to tackle the difficult decisions that need to be made today to continue to attract and retain businesses across the state.
Finally, you told us that you appreciate and enjoy the networking and learning opportunities that we offer. To build on that, this year we hosted multiple meetings with key elected officials to discuss legislation affecting small businesses and ideas for improving the Delaware economic climate. In addition, we created the inaugural John H. Taylor Jr. Education Leadership award that was presented to Jack Varsalona, president of Wilmington University, during our 2016 Superstars in Education ceremony in May.
It is important to remember that this work takes time. We may not see the results we want from every legislative session or key vote, but we remain committed to working on the things that will help our state – and our members – thrive and grow. On behalf of the board and the staff, thank you for the opportunity to continue to work on the issues that you have told us are important to you.
by James DeChene
There are many competitive Delaware primaries in most of the races this year and it is unclear (as of now) who will win. Up and down the state, and in both parties, on September 13th the outcomes will shape the narrative for the November general election and beyond. In January there will be a new member of Congress, a new Governor and Lt. Governor, an inducted 149th General Assembly and many important county and local positions will be filled such as County Executive and City of Wilmington Mayor.
A reminder email will be sent to Chamber members highlighting which races have primaries and inwhich races the Chamber’s PAC has contributed to a candidate. Remember—it is important for the business community to vote and be actively involved in the legislative and regulatory process. Laws and regulations are created and promulgated that have direct impact on your business and how it operates. This election season is the time for your voice to be heard by those who are asking for your vote to represent you in Washington, Dover, your county and in your town—make sure you take the time to make an informed decision on who you want to be your voice.
by James DeChene
On September 20th, from 8-11 at Alfred I. duPont Hospital For Children, the State Chamber and its Health Care Committee, will be holding an event focused on what employers need to know about opioid abuse in the workplace.
Separate from medical need, this event will focus on the dramatic increase of abuse and how it impacts a business, what resources are available for employers to help employees and/or their families seek help and what other options are available aside from simply firing an employee.
Recently, in Huntington, WV 26 people overdosed in just under 4 hours, cutting across a wide swath of the population with no bias against race or social or economic standing. This epidemic can impact anyone, and it is important to know how best to deal with its impact.
The event speakers will be:
First Lady of Delaware (Invited)
Dr. Terry Horton, M.D, FACP
Chief of Christiana Care’s Division of Addiction
Director, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services
The Honorable Eric Davis
Superior Court Judge
Founder & Chairman, Bancroft Construction
To register, visit: http://www.dscc.com/events/eventdetail.aspx?EventID=1860
by James DeChene
August 20th is the deadline for those who wish to vote in Delaware primary elections to be held on September 13th. In addition to being able to register at DMV or at your local library, the easiest way is online: ivote.de.gov. There are a number of races featuring primaries this year, all candidates for which can be viewed in the PDF linked below.
DE 2016 Primary Election Candidates
by James DeChene
Although the dog days of summer are upon us, there have been some items of interest the last few weeks.
The decision by PJM to review the Artificial Island project for both scope and cost was welcome news. Faced with political and public relations backlash, along with a pending FERC plan review, it was a wise move by PJM to step back and reevaluate. We are hopeful come February 2017 there will be a better, more fairly equitable, plan put forward.
Conversely in unwelcome news, abandoned property was in the headlines again–this time with the State settling the Temple-Inland case, with further potential ramifications on the horizon. We now wait and see how many companies currently under audit choose not to settle, or how many who have settled under a flawed system, choose to attempt to sue to recoup money given to the state. In addition, there’s the remaining contracted years with Kelmar Associates, the auditing firm behind the huge uptick in revenue these last few years, and the pending case at the Supreme Court brought by 21 states challenging Delaware’s escheat process. The state faces a significant reduction in revenues next year as a result, with no clear path to replace them.
And finally, Delaware’s Chancery Court was in the news related to TransPerfect and the decision to prepare the company for sale. It’s important to note that the Court, and the corporate bar community, have been the gold standard for corporate law for decades, making Delaware internationally known, and respected, as a result. It’s always news when a controversial case is decided, and the hubbub surrounding this decision is no different. It bears remembering, however, that shareholder disputes are settled all the time.
All in all, a fairly exciting few weeks for summertime.
by Mark DiMaio
Fantastic work by Delaware Economic Development Office, City of Wilmington and many others in securing Chemours as a Delaware headquartered company. It was no small feat, keeping the approximately 800 jobs in Wilmington. By some estimations, losing Chemours could have resulted in losing over 3,400 direct and indirect jobs and over $550 million dollars in revenue. This is more than a symbolic win for Delaware, it demonstrates that our state can and does compete at a regional level. A key factor in landing Chemours was the passage of the Delaware Competes Act, which modernized Delaware’s corporate income tax code to be competitive not only with surrounding states but nationally. The General Assembly swiftly passed the legislation, demonstrating not only to Chemours but to the business community that Delaware can make policy changes to keep the state competitive.
But there’s more to be done. The reality is that there may not be another economic “silver bullet” to provide a springboard for economic prosperity. Time and time again, Delaware has demonstrated that it will successfully react to a crisis business situation by bringing public and private sector stakeholders together and making necessary legislative or regulatory changes. The state should be commended for these yeoman efforts. But has the time finally come to formalize these ad-hoc efforts and establish a public-private economic development organization? Many states have already implemented these economic development tools. Recently, the Delaware Business Roundtable (DBRT) published the Delaware Growth Agenda and a key framework component is establishing a public-private economic development organization responsible for crafting a new comprehensive statewide economic development strategic plan with a marketing campaign that pursues new investment and jobs in key industries. We have a great opportunity to be proactive in formalizing our “ad-hoc system” by developing and implementing a public-private economic development partnership. Let’s not wait until the next crisis brings everyone together.
by James DeChene
The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. The last two weeks have been filled with national party convention drama, heat waves making for great vacation/beach weather (see you next week, Lewes), and mixed in are polls for the City of Wilmington mayoral and Congressional races, with results showing that many people are not yet focused on local elections. Faster than some sunburns will fade, Fall and the September primaries will be here, and, as the State Chamber has mentioned (repeatedly), there are hot button issues on the horizon next year. Many of them have been outlined in the recent Delaware Business Roundtable’s Growth Agenda (available for your beach reading pleasure), and can help serve as an election guide for the business community to choose who is best served to help guide Delaware into the future. For now, we hope you enjoy your summer, that your AC is working, and that you’ll spend some time reading up on your specific candidates up for election.
Delaware Growth Agenda: State Must Pursue New Long-Term Approach To Economic Development Over Next Five Years
By Robert Perkins
Executive Director, Delaware Business Roundtable
PerkinsDelaware must fundamentally change its approach to economic development and nurture a growing entrepreneurship base in the face of intense competition for jobs, investment and talent, according to a framework commissioned by the Delaware Business Roundtable released on Wednesday.
The Delaware Growth Agenda provides the private sector’s strategic framework for pursuing a new long-term approach to economic development in the state, including public policy recommendations centered on three strategic goals to be implemented over the next five years.
“The vision of the Delaware Growth Agenda is that our state will focus its efforts on becoming a global magnet for leading-edge technologies, talent and investment,” said Mark Turner, chairman of the Delaware Business Roundtable and president and CEO of WSFS Financial Corporation. “This framework puts forth clear-eyed, achievable strategic goals and strategies that can accelerate Delaware’s economic engine – but only if the public and private sectors work together to make that vision a reality.”
The non-partisan, forward-looking framework is based on interviews and guidance from more than 100 Delawareans, including representatives from economic development organizations, higher education institutions, businesses, government, labor and non-profit organizations. The framework envisions an even stronger and more robust partnership between the public and private sectors to guide future success.
The framework recommends:
Building an entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. This includes bolstering federal, state and private investment in higher education, and emphasizing the healthcare, science and technology fields, engineering and entrepreneurship programs. The framework calls for the creation of an “Innovation District” as a destination for entrepreneurs and startups, as well as for marketing Delaware to regional and national angel investors and risk capital networks.
Pursuing a new approach to economic development. The framework calls for establishing a public-private economic development organization, crafting a new comprehensive statewide economic development strategic plan, and a marketing campaign that pursues new investment and jobs in key industries – including financial services, business services, education and knowledge creation, manufacturing, and distribution.
Enhancing Delaware’s business climate. The Growth Agenda says the state must ensure Delaware’s infrastructure meets the needs of a 21st century economy, including updating the Coastal Zone Act to provide greater flexibility in redeveloping brownfield sites. The framework also calls for improving the state’s public education system, taking a leadership role in facilitating more efficient development and permitting processes, and creating a Futures Council of Delaware.
The full recommendations under each of the goals and strategies can be found in the framework, which was developed collaboratively by TIP Strategies and the Delaware Business Roundtable. TIP Strategies is an economic development strategy firm that has worked with states and communities across the country.
In addition to presenting a strategic vision and goals, TIP Strategies also examined Delaware’s economic health over time compared to other states in the region.
Among the findings of the framework:
We are facing real challenges, but the Growth Agenda encourages a reset of economic development in Delaware over the next five years. First and foremost, things cannot continue as they have because Delaware’s existing companies – nor the industry sectors themselves – can be counted on to serve as engines of future growth. We must take a new approach, and the public and private sectors must work together to get it done.
The Roundtable’s intention is for the Delaware Growth Agenda to spark a much-needed discussion of how to expand economic opportunity and jobs throughout the state during the 2016 election cycle that will result in concrete action thereafter. It comes on the heels of the Roundtable’s 2015 study of state finances, which clearly articulated the structural budget challenge facing the state as it wrestles with unsustainable revenue sources and spending patterns and strongly recommended that Delaware focus on expanding economic growth as one part of the solution.
The Delaware Business Roundtable plans to continue to promote sustainable economic expansion and growth in Delaware.
About the Delaware Business Roundtable
The Delaware Business Roundtable is a non-partisan, volunteer consortium of CEOs whose companies collectively employ over 75,000 people in Delaware. Since its inception in 1981, the Roundtable’s broad mission is to enhance the quality of life in Delaware by promoting commerce, job creation and select public policy issues. In recent years, the Roundtable has been a leading supporter of public education transformation and entrepreneurs in Delaware.
About TIP Strategies
TIP Strategies, Inc. (TIP) is a privately held economic development consulting firm, with offices in Austin and Seattle. Established in 1995, TIP is committed to providing quality solutions for public and private sector clients. TIP has completed more than 300 engagements across 38 states and 4 countries. The firm’s primary focus is strategic economic development planning. In addition, TIP has experience with entrepreneurship, target industry analysis, workforce, and redevelopment. The firm’s methods establish a clear vision for economic growth. Community leaders across the country have embraced the TIP model of Talent, Innovation, and Place to achieve successful and sustainable economies.
Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Applauds “Delaware Growth Agenda” Released by Delaware Business Roundtable
Delaware State Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Richard Heffron released the following statement applauding the Delaware Business Roundtable releasing their Delaware Growth Agenda, which outlines steps Delaware should take to secure its economic future.
“Today’s release of the Delaware Business Roundtable’s Delaware Growth Agendareinforces what the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, and other business groups, have been saying—that in order for Delaware to have sustained and successful long-term economic growth there needs to be a commitment by elected leaders to make difficult decisions.”
“The industries that have long defined Delaware are changing, and Delaware must adapt and change to remain relevant to business on decisions to expand or relocate here. A renewed commitment to education and workforce development, developing an entrepreneurship climate, continuing a nimble approach to economic development and focusing on pro-business legislation and regulations all must be a part of a successful Delaware.”
The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting an economic climate that strengthens the competitiveness of Delaware businesses and benefits citizens of the state. Founded in 1837 as the Wilmington Board of Trade, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce has a long history as the largest, most influential business organization in the state. Learn more at www.dscc.com.
by James DeChene
The 148th General Assembly closed out its session in the early hours of July 1st with its mandated legislation, notably the budget, bond bill and grants in aid, finalized.
There were a few notable pieces of legislation important to economic development this year that passed, namely:
In order to provide the bulk of the shortfall funds required in bond and grants in aid specifically, budget writers were forced to raid funds, rely on inversions from unspent accounts and to restrict new program spending to cover, including using the $6 million Governor Markell set aside to help cover redistricting costs associated with the Wilmington Redistricting plan. The main takeaway from the ending this year was that next year, especially the budget, will be difficult.
Issues for Next Year:
Economic Development – Coastal Zone Modernization, this year the State Chamber raised awareness of the need to modernize the Coastal Zone Act, specifically for sites located north of the C&D Canal to make Delaware more competitive with surrounding states to create jobs here. The issue gained no traction in the General Assembly this year, despite a broad coalition of businesses and business groups calling for action. The State Chamber, along with other coalition members, will continue the process into next year with the hopes of legislation passing.
Budget and Tax Policy – The State Chamber’s Tax Committee is working this summer to help draft recommendations for the next governor to promote pro-growth policy for Delaware. With DEFAC projecting low revenue growth for the next few years, the time is ripe to review how Delaware collects and spends taxpayer dollars.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.