By Mark DiMaio
In 2017, we invited Chamber members to participate in a survey in part to gauge their view of obstacles to their business growth. Listed below are the top five, along with ways the Chamber is addressing them.
1. Cost of Employee Health Care
The Chamber recognizes the growing problem surrounding health care costs.
2. Lack of Qualified Applicants
We are actively engaged, along with many of our members, with the Pathways to Prosperity program. Delaware Pathways programs are a set of curriculum focused on a specific industry-based “pathway,” paired with opportunities to gain workplace experience while still in high school, graduate with a head start on a college degree, or gain qualifications needed to go to work immediately. The program is a unique collaboration of school districts, businesses, higher education, and national advisory partners that represent a new way to do school. The Delaware Manufacturing Association (a Chamber affiliate) members have actively participated in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology and Manufacturing Production & Logistics pathways.
Delaware Pathways will host its 4th Annual Conference on March 21.
3. Concerns with Crime & Safety
The Chamber supports the efforts of elected officials and their staffs to reduce crime in Wilmington and across the state.
4. Concerns About Local Schools
Improving education outcomes is a key factor in developing a skilled workforce and attracting new business to Delaware.
5. Cost of Permitting and Regulation Compliance
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.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.