Maybe it’s a continuation of my turkey coma, but I saw a lot of positive things happening this week in and around Delaware you may have missed. Chamber member, and Taste of Delaware participant, Waggies by Maggie & Friends, a Wilmington nonprofit dog treat company that employs people with intellectual disabilities, has won the $10,000 grand prize in M&T Bank’s first Understanding What’s Important Business Challenge. Maggie’s has been a great friend of the Chamber, and everyone here is so pleased at their award. Congrats!
The announcement of a sports arena to be built by the Riverfront, with a connecting bridge to area attractions like Iron Hill and Frawley Stadium, is huge for Wilmington. Above and beyond what it can bring for economic development, it’s a major quality of life project for an area of the City that desperately needs one. Kudos to Governor Carney, Mayor Purzycki, and BPG for working together to bring this project to Delaware.
Speaking of Governor Carney, you may have read about the release, a bit early, of his Wilmington schools plan. While the plan will undergo a number of changes, what struck me was the Governor taking the time to visit residents of Wilmington in person, urging them to participate in the process and to educate them about what his plan will mean for Wilmington kids and families. Door knocking can be hard, and at times even unpleasant, but it’s also one of the best ways to sell your message. Color me impressed.
Lest you think I’ve lost my Grinch-esque ways, let me end by saying we’re following chatter that there’s an effort afoot to build support in order to increase Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50%, with an 8% carve out for solar generation. Currently, Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are established by the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act (REPSA), which provides that utilities procure an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, leading up to 25% of energy derived from renewable sources by 2025. Obviously we’ll be watching this closely.
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.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.