by James DeChene
May you live in interesting times…
If you needed evidence of how the world has changed look no further than to the announcement of Ellen Kullman’s retirement as proof. That one event has put in motion discussions reminiscent of when MBNA was in transition, and coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the future of Chemours, tongues are certainly wagging. The positive in all this is the opportunity to reevaluate how Delaware can compete to bring and to keep businesses in Delaware. Exercises like that have begun as task forces are evaluating state spending and revenues, tax policy and other incentives that can help create the next round of growth in the state.
Delaware needs to continue to position itself as a place where businesses incorporate, relocate, and expand. There has been some good news on this front. Calpine recently opened the Garrison Energy Center in Dover, a 300 mega-watt generating facility helping to bring lower cost energy downstate, with the ability to expand on their current site in the future. Right next door to Calpine, German floor material manufacture Uzin Utz recently opened their doors, and Incyte in Wilmington announced 400 jobs coming to Delaware. Sunoco is planning a $3 billion reinvestment into its Marcus Hook facility, and if Delaware positions itself, the state may see some of that investment on the 40 acres that crosses into Delaware.
However, all of these gains and projections rest on the head of a pin. Speculation and rumor have already started as to the ways the General Assembly plans to balance the FY 2017 budget. Proposals to raise the graduated personal income tax by 13% on top earners, raise the franchise tax, increase gross receipts tax—all have a negative impact on businesses’ decisions to located and expand in Delaware at a time when we can least afford it. The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is committed to promoting policy and legislation focused on economic growth and will continue to be the voice of Delaware business in Dover working to ensure a bright future for Delaware and its citizens.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.