by Mark DiMaio
As we kick off 2016, the Chamber’s newly formed Economic Development Committee prepares for action. The Committee’s mission is simple: Enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Delawareans, and work in collaboration with Delaware communities and stakeholders; Promote polices that facilitate the expansion of existing companies; Act as a key resource for businesses considering locating in Delaware and advocate for strategies that expand the tax base and create higher-income employment opportunities.
Committee Chairman Mike Vanderslice, Vice President of Environmental Alliance, Inc., believes the committee will be productive in finding actionable policy solutions to drive economic expansion.
“As a life-long resident of Delaware, I have a vested interest in a healthy local economy. I’m committed to working with Economic Development Committee Members and with other State Chamber Committees to identify actionable initiatives that will enhance economic growth. In light of recent announcements, it is imperative that the business community (small and large) pull together to cultivate solutions to keep Delaware moving forward.”
The Committee will work with the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), County and City Economic Development Offices, as well as local chambers, to promote policies and strategies that support existing industries and foster a climate that attracts new and innovative business to Delaware. A formal kickoff committee meeting will take place in late January or early February.
by James DeChene
Chamber Committee meetings have already started in 2016. With the General Assembly set to convene on January 12th, the Chamber’s policy committees are poised for action. Topics include the Healthcare Committee working to educate employers about the increase in narcotics/heroin addiction in Delaware, reducing the stigma of addiction, what signs to look for in employees and various treatment options available. Look for a spring event panel discussion to learn more. The Tax Committee will be looking at ways in which to help make Delaware more attractive for businesses to relocate to and expand in Delaware, and will be reviewing tax related legislation and regulations as they are drafted to provide feedback. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will be looking at the drafted Water Usage Fee bill that was created as the result of a Clean Water Taskforce. Chamber members have been participants on that taskforce and have provided industry knowledge to help craft the bill. The Employer Advocacy and Education Committee is expected to meet soon to discuss various labor legislation including an expected bill to increase the minimum wage in Delaware to $15 by 2023. The Environmental Committee will be having their spring event with a speaker TBD, and with potential changes to the Coastal Zone Act this year, they will undoubtedly have feedback to offer as well.
For more information on how to participate on a committee, contact James DeChene at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the suggestion of the Chamber’s Young Professionals Group, the State Chamber will reconvene its Economic Development Committee early 2016. In the early 2000s, the committee was mothballed due to a quickly expanding Delaware economy. After the housing bust, the State Chamber’s policy efforts went into supporting policies to stabilize Delaware’s economy. Much has changed over the past few years and the time is right to put additional emphasis on economic development issues.
Mike Vanderslice, VP of Sales and Marketing for Environmental Alliance, will chair the committee and is part of the next generation of State Chamber leadership. The Committee membership will include younger executives as well as more seasoned leaders covering a diverse number of industries throughout the state.
The Committee’s mission will focus on expanding economic opportunity, an issue that’s important to all Delawareans. Internally, the Committee will engage other DSCC Committees such as Tax, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environmental and Employee Relations along with Board of Governors in developing and advancing the State Chamber’s economic development policy.
As part of the mission, the Committee will partner with DEDO, County and City Economic Development Offices, as well as local chambers to promote policies that support existing industries and foster a business climate that attracts new and innovative companies to Delaware.
The announcement last week that DuPont and Dow intend to formally enter merger discussions resonated throughout Delaware. Even though the merger has to go through the regulatory and shareholder approval process, which will take time, questions are quickly emerging as to what the merger will mean in terms of economic impact for Delaware. Separately announced by DuPont was a global restructuring plan that will result in a 10% reduction in global workforce, which is bound to impact the 7000 employees currently working in Delaware.
Taken together, these announcements create many questions about state finances as the calculations begin on what losses due to a diminished DuPont will mean to personal income tax, corporate income tax, gross receipts and property taxes throughout the state. Coupled with what could also be a reduction in philanthropic and nonprofit support, there may not be a person in Delaware who won’t feel the changes.
DuPont has been a Delaware institution for over 200 years, a fact that the average Delawarean can recite on command. The company history is so intertwined with Delaware’s there’s in some sense an impending loss of Delaware’s identity—what does Delaware look like without a sustained DuPont presence? As we seek answers to these questions, it’s important to know that the process to complete the merger and execute the spinoffs will take up to three years, and during that time the Chamber will be working closely with DuPont, state government and local business to examine all options to navigate whatever shifts in the economic base may be created. At the same time, there is potential that at least one or more of the spin-off companies could be located in the state. These would be fortune 500 companies with powerhouse brands that have market leadership and would be better positioned for growth and investment after the spins. The Chamber will work closely with DuPont and state officials to foster a business climate that will be attractive for the future spinoff companies to locate their headquarters in the state.
More than 400 guests, crowded into the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday, December 9 for a chance to sample the best hospitality, food and drinks from some of Delaware’s top eateries at the 5th Annual Taste of Delaware celebration. Co-hosted by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and Senator Coons, the tradition brings together Delawareans and D.C. guests to enjoy the finest of the first state’s eats.
Taste of Delaware has humble beginnings to say the least. The first “unofficial” Taste of Delaware took place four years ago in a conference room just a week after Senator Coons took office. The gathering consisted of about 20 people enjoying a small sampling of Grotto Pizza, Capriotti’s sandwiches and Dogfish Head beer. Three years later, the event has gained a reputation among congressional staff and legislators as one of the can’t-miss events of the year.
The event is held annually as close to “Delaware Day” as possible. Since 1933, the governors of Delaware have proclaimed December 7 as Delaware Day in honor of that day in 1787 when Delaware became the first state to ratify the Federal Constitution, thus making Delaware the first state in the New Nation.
Senator Coons thanked guests and vendors for taking part in the event and encouraged those who enjoyed themselves to come to Delaware and explore more of the state’s culinary – and tax free – offerings.
“Who would have thought, just five years ago sitting around a conference room table at our first Taste of Delaware, that it would have grown to a celebration of this magnitude,” said Sen. Coons. “Looking around the room, and talking with the proud owners of these establishments, you can tell that these people love Delaware, love their customers, and really enjoy being part of the hospitality family in Delaware.”
Sen. Coons also remarked that the success of the event comes from the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s participation, coordination, and passion of the event.
“This event has become one of the Chamber favorites in the past five years,” said Delaware Chamber of Commerce President Rich Heffron. “We enjoy the partnership with Senator Coons’ office and staff, and it’s great to brag about Delaware offerings at the national level each year.”
Vendors from more than 20 restaurants, bakeries, breweries, and wineries from all corners of the state came to share their goods with D.C. guests, many of whom were Delaware transplants hungry for a taste of home.
In 2015 Nemours Children’s Health System celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first patient being admitted to the Alfred I. duPont Institute. In the decades since, Nemours has experienced many changes—from advances in medicine and technology, to the opening of two new hospitals and dozens of pediatric practices across the Delaware Valley and Florida.
When Alfred I. duPont died in 1935 he left his fortune for the care of children in Delaware and Florida. That fortune is the Alfred I. duPont Testamentary Trust, and the Nemours Foundation is the operating entity that brings the vision and mission to life every day. We are now the largest children’s health system in the United States, with more than 5,000 Associates and more than 600 physicians across five states providing the full range of pediatric medical and specialty care, prevention, research, advocacy and a number of other important services.
But one thing that has not changed over the past 75 years is our commitment to providing compassionate, high-quality, family-centered care to all children and families. By doing so we honor the legacy of our founder, Alfred I. duPont—a man of great compassion and a champion of equality among all men who believed “it is the duty of everyone in the world to do what is within his power to alleviate human suffering.” That belief has become embodied in the Nemours mission “to provide the leadership, institutions, and services not readily available to restore and improve the health of children.” That’s what our Associates strive for every day.
Nemours is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s 179th Annual Dinner and pleased that our President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. David J. Bailey, will be the evening’s keynote speaker. This is an exciting time for Nemours, and I invite you to join me at Delaware’s premier business and networking event to learn more about Nemours and our commitment to helping the First State’s children grow up healthy.
As reported last week in the News Journal, Delaware recently received good news from FERC regarding the Artificial Island cost allocation proceedings. In response to the claims raised by the Delaware and Maryland Public Service Commissions (Docket EL15-95-000), regarding the cost allocation made by PJM as to who would pay for a new transmission line to be constructed between New Jersey and the Delmarva Peninsula, FERC determined that the cost allocation for Artificial Island filed by the PJM transmission owners may not be just and reasonable. FERC has therefore accepted the cost allocations but delayed implementation for 5 months (subject to refund if FERC denies the cost allocation) and established a technical conference with PJM to determine whether there is a certain category of reliability projects for which the solution-based DFAX may not be appropriate and whether another cost allocation method could be established for such projects. Paragraphs 34 and 35 of FERC’s order, below, are the most significant for Delaware. This is a fantastic initial order from FERC.
34. Our preliminary analysis indicates that the assignment of cost allocation for the proposed Tariff amendments in Docket No. ER 15-2562-000 Filing and Docket No. ER15-2563-000 have not been shown to be just and reasonable and may be unjust, unreasonable, or unduly discriminatory or preferential. Accordingly, we will accept the proposed Tariff revisions for filing, suspend them for five months, to become effective on April 25, 2016, or an earlier date set forth in a subsequent order, subject to refund, and the outcome of a technical conference in the complaint proceedings, Docket Nos. EL15-18-001, EL15-67-000, and EL15-95-000.
35. We direct staff to establish a technical conference to explore both whether there is a definable category of reliability projects within PJM for which the solution-based DFAX cost allocation method may not be just and reasonable, such as projects addressing reliability violations that are not related to flow on the planned transmission facility, and whether an alternative just and reasonable ex ante cost allocation method could be established for any such category of projects.
Governor Markell today announced $600,000 in grants for new high school pathway programs to expand a statewide effort that prepares students to excel in key fields that offer good job opportunities in the new economy.
Beginning next fall, the Governor’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative will serve more than 5,000 students in at least 55 pathway programs at 29 high schools. That more than doubles the size of the initiative from this fall, when it launched with 25 pathways in 15 high schools across the state, impacting more than 2400 students. For this second round of grants, the state has added pathways in computer networking, finance, and health care. Those are in addition to pathways in biomedical sciences, engineering, hospitality/culinary arts, IT/computer science, and manufacturing.
The Governor previously announced $500,000 in grants for pathways that started this fall. Moving forward, the state plans to provide districts the chance each September to apply for funds to start new pathways in emerging industry sectors.
“I applaud the district administrators, teachers, higher education leaders, and employers who have made it a top priority to provide these opportunities to our students,” said Markell. “They have allowed this initiative to expand at an incredible rate, recognizing that these opportunities are vital to give all of our young people the best chance to reach their potential. Working together, we will ensure every student can not only participate but thrive in the job market into which they will graduate.”
Grant funds are used by school districts to implement career and technical education programs of study as part of a larger state effort to connect our public education system, post-secondary institutions, and our employer community. Students take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training, receiving the opportunity to graduate with work experience and college credit for courses that are most relevant to those industries. That means they can have a head start on getting a job and earning a degree.
Each program was developed in partnership with Delaware employers and institutions of higher education. The Department of Education is providing curriculum support for each pathway as well as training for teachers to successfully implement the coursework. In addition, the Department is working on agreements with Delaware colleges and universities to ensure that students who complete a program will be eligible for college credit at one or more institutions of higher education in the state.
The just-announced $600,000 includes some funds to help expand programs already underway this fall.
“This program epitomizes the collaboration among teachers, administrators, and the larger education community that is necessary to best support our students,” said Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky. “The Department of Education continues to be committed to partnering with our school leaders and offering our school systems the support they need to effectively implement the rigorous career and technical programs that are a key part of ensuring all students find success after high school.”
Districts use funding in a variety of ways to support students and staff, and to provide the services and materials required to offer courses and hands-on training opportunities.
“Today’s jobs simply do not look like those of decades past, which are increasingly outsourced to other countries or handled by machines,” said Markell. “However, incredible opportunities exist for those who can use that technology and for those whose abilities fit with the changing needs of growing industries. It’s our responsibility to ensure there are pathways to learning the skills for those jobs.”
It is hard to believe the day has come when our close-knit Delaware community is saying good bye to Charlie Cawley. I could talk about the great organization he built or the financial contributions MBNA made to the state, but what really stands out is the man himself. He was a giant, a bigger than life presence in our community for over two decades. It was an era that many of us were fortunate to experience firsthand. Sure, his outreach went far beyond Delaware, but what an impact he had on Delaware!
Mr. Cawley’s leadership changed the landscape of the city of Wilmington. He boosted the nonprofit community through his personal philanthropy, but more importantly, he ingrained that spirit of giving back to the community in his employees. And indeed, they did give back. His leadership style created goodwill in the community that ran deep and touched the lives of many in need. He did most of his work quietly and without fanfare. It goes without saying that his contributions to Delaware were immeasurable. Mr. Cawley’s hands on approach to the community, the personal touch and watchful eye, is sorely missed by our city.
In 2000 Charles M. and Julie P. Cawley were awarded the prestigious Josiah Marvel Cup by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. This annual award honors a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state, community or society. Mr. and Mrs. Cawley are the epitome of what this award represents. We all share in your loss Mrs. Cawley and send you our deepest condolences.
Everyone has a story of how Charlie Cawley touched their lives. He will be remembered fondly – a mark of a life well lived. It is only appropriate that we honor him in this season of Thanksgiving. I ask you to do something selfless today. Take a moment and think about how you can give back to the community. One act of kindness….in memory of Mr. Cawley.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.