by James DeChene
A number of good news items this week helps offset the crummy weather, including Ashland announcing they will be moving their headquarters from Kentucky to Delaware. Also in the news was a group, Capital Ideas, ranking Delaware first in innovation among the 50 states due to the high numbers of innovation patents awarded to Delaware businesses, at a rate of 20 utility patents per 1,000 people. It should come as no surprise that DuPont’s presence in Delaware is a leading reason for our ranking.
Good news this week if you live in Sussex County and you have a computer. Gov. John Carney on Tuesday announced a state initiative to partner with the private sector to bring broadband wireless Internet to underserved areas of rural Kent and Sussex counties.
News of developing the AstraZeneca site on Rt. 202 was welcomed this week. Featuring a mixed use of apartments, shops, restaurants, office space and a hotel, the project has the potential to breathe life back into the corridor, and coupled with the proposed development at 202 and Silverside Road, a lot of new opportunities for businesses to expand or relocate are on the horizon.
Lastly, it was announced that Damian DeStefano will be the new head of the Division of Small Business. You may remember Damian as Governor Markell’s economic development policy advisor. It will be good to work with him again in his new role.
by Mark DiMaio
Virginia “Jinni” Forcucci, a high school English teacher from the Sussex Technical School District, is Delaware’s 2018 State Teacher of the Year. Governor John Carney made the announcement at the annual banquet honoring the 20 district and charter teachers of the year at Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center.
Virginia “Jinni” Forcucci became an educator because of her love of literature, but her students are the inspiration for her 20-year career. As a teacher, Forcucci works to encourage her students to understand all sides of an argument before formulating a perspective, and to seek common ground as they search for a resolution. Ms. Forcucci said she found what best motivates learning is demanding content, freedom to explore and academic discourse. With this discovery, she redesigned her curricula, enhancing rigor and relying more on student-driven discussions. Even her most resistant learners responded.
Ms. Forcucci inherits from outgoing Teacher of the Year Wendy Turner the responsibility of representing all Delaware teachers. She will also represent Delaware in the National Teacher of the Year Program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers. By action of the Delaware General Assembly, she will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students, as well two personal grants totaling an additional $5,000.
by James DeChene
This week the Sussex and Kent County Advisory Committees met. In Sussex, attendees heard from DELDOT Secretary Cohan, who gave an overview of pending infrastructure projects across the state, particularly across Sussex. Updates included hearing the latest timeline for the 301 project, plans to improve Rt. 24 and Rt.9, and how the Lewes Transportation Improvement District is working to improve beach travel.
At the Kent County meeting, along with an overview of pending legislation in Dover, members enjoyed a gemütlich conversation on the recent Kent County Economic Development strategy session to help make Dover, and the surrounding areas, an economic development powerhouse for Delaware.
JFC continues to meet to formulate the state’s budget. So far, cuts have been made to the senior citizen property tax credit, along with a few other programs. Meetings continue into next week, and then the General Assembly goes back into session on June 6th for its sprint to the finish for this year.
Don’t forget our upcoming End of Session brunch on June 7th. It’s a great way for members to develop a healthy gemeinschaft with their elected officials and other Chamber members.
by James DeChene
As part of the State Chamber's Strategic Plan, created by staff and the Board of Directors last year, one of the initiatives included greater emphasis on engaging our members across the state. We questioned how we could be targeted in our outreach, and our plan included engaging members in each of the counties to help us inform our members on not only what the State Chamber is up to, but also to hear from our members on what issues are important to them.
Last week, staff met with the newly created Advisory Committees in both Sussex and Kent counties. The meetings highlighted that while many of the issues our members face are universal (the looming budget deficit or the impact of a minimum wage increase), each county zeroed in on issues specific to their geography.
In Sussex, tourism was the main focus of the discussion, but included issues such as infrastructure (the need for better east/west transit and public transportation) since much of the tourism and retail workforce lives in the western part of the county since it's cheaper to live there than at the beach. Items also included the potential of DEDO becoming a public private partnership and the impact felt by tourism.
In Kent, the focus was on workforce development, specifically in the manufacturing community. Multiple attendees related how difficult it has been to recruit employees in technical fields and the hurdles they face to expand as a result. Members heard about workforce training programs available at DelTech, and with those discussion will come a plan on how to get skilled workers where they are needed.
The goal is to have quarterly meetings with our Advisory Committees to continue the conversation on areas where businesses are seeing success, and where new issues are cropping up. We look forward to reporting back and we would like to thank our Advisory Committee members for taking the time to meet with us and share their ideas and concerns.
Kent County Advisory Committee:
Chris Baker, George & Lynch
Rob Book, Delaware Electric Cooperative
Buff Bruno, Edgewell Personal Care
Justin Cressler, KraftHeinz
Judy Diogo, Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce
Jerry Esposito, Tidewater Utilities - Chair
Sue Garson, WSFS Bank
Michael Gast, M&T Bank
Ron Gomes, Painted Stave
Ken Hoffmann, PSCI
Bob Keck, Calpine (Garrison Energy Center)
Neal Nicastro, PPG
Larry Rohlfing, Fulton Bank
Justina Sapna, Delaware Technical Community College
John Van Gorp, Bayhealth Hospital
Stu Widom, Calpine
Harry Williams, Delaware State University
Lincoln Willis, The Willis Group LLC
Sussex County Advisory Committee:
Bill Allan, Delaware Community Foundation
Rob Book, Delaware Electric Cooperative
Barbara Brewer, Atlantic Sands Hotel
Kevin Broadhurst, Comcast
Lynn Brocato, Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce
Tommy Cooper, Cooper Realty
Michael Elehwany, Miller Metal
Carol Everhart, Rehoboth Beach – Dewey Chamber of Commerce
Juan Flores, Invista
Judy Johnson, Fulton Bank
Richard Kenny, ShopRites of Delaware
Alan Levin, SoDel Concepts
Kristie Maravali, Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce
Sean McKeon, Mountaire Farms
Chris Moody, Delaware Technical Community College
Chad Moore, The Bellmoor Inn & Spa - Chair
Chris Perdue, Perdue Farms
Betsy Reamer, Lewes Chamber of Commerce
Rob Rider, O.A. Newton
Rhett Ruggerio, Ruggerio Willson Associates
Jo Schmieser, Chamber of Commerce of Milford
Mark Stellini, Assurance Media
Scott Swingle, WSFS Bank
Alex Sydnor, Beebe Hospital
Scott Thomas, Southern Delaware Tourism
Chris Willett, M&T Bank
It’s not every day that you get to “make someone’s day”. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to make six outstanding school program’s “day” by notifying them at they were 2016 Superstars in Education winners. Superstars in Education (SSE) is charged with recognizing outstanding educational programs and individual achievements. The SSE Program highlights excellence in science teaching, integrated classroom technology practices, and school-to-career partnerships. This year, the Superstars in Education Selection Committee reviewed 42 exceptional nominations and the following six programs were chosen as Delaware’s best.
Project SEARCH – New Castle County
Red Clay Consolidated School District
Project SEARCH is a nine-month school-to-work collaborative transition program for students 18-21 with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program operates entirely within a host business. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and on-the-job training and support.
Biomedical/Christiana Care Partnership
Conrad Schools of Science
This program is only four years old and has already been making an educational impact on Conrad Schools of Science. Students can now immerse themselves in specific careers including but not limited to Respiratory Therapy, Neurology, Genetic Counseling, Nutrition, Optometry, Audiology and Oncology.
F. Niel Postlethwait Middle School
This program was established in 2010 as a multi-purpose, cross-curricular, learning space. It is a part of modern school initiatives that focus on improving health, academic success, behavioral development, and prepare children for challenges and opportunities they might face later on in life. The classroom also strives to promote stewardship of nature and social responsibility.
Teacher Professional Learning Program
Sussex Central High School
With the integration of the digital platform of Schoology in Delaware schools, Sussex Central’s goals were to enhance the effectiveness of its teacher professional learning experience. With a blended learning format in classrooms, videos, texts, research, discussion boards, photo albums and collaborative activities have taken from simply a face-to-face to a more well-rounded experience.
21st Century Stars S.T.E.A.M. Program
William Henry Middle School
An inclusive program that provides academic and social enrichment opportunities to 5th and 6th grade students in a nurturing and supportive environment, topics covered include music, service learning, sports, entrepreneurship, art, dance, culture and S.T.E.A.M. technology (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).
Accelerating Preliterate English Language Learners (A.P.E.L.L.) Program
Indian River School District
Located in the Carver Center, this program serves some of the district’s most needy learners. It is designed for newly arrived English Language Learners (EL) who have had major interruptions in their schooling, for generally, two or more years.
Please join Delaware Governor Jack Markell and the Delaware business community as we celebrate the 2016 Superstars in Education winners with a reception and awards ceremony on Monday, May 9, 2016 at 4:45 p.m. at Wilmington University’s Doberstein Admissions Center Auditorium.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.