as published by Delaware Business Times
By Roger Morris
Special to Delaware Business Times
Coming off a year when Delaware manufacturing jobs rose by almost one-half percent to about 26,000 workers, jobs growth in 2018 is expected to be similarly modest. According to local manufacturers and those who work in manufacturing-related organizations, three major trends will dominate the sector in the coming year:
Job growth will largely be organic
Most job growth will occur within businesses currently located within the state, with little expectations of immediate major manufacturing relocations to the region.
“One of the challenges we have at the Delaware Manufacturing Association is to reach out to growing companies in the state,” said Neil Nicastro, plant manager at PPG Industries’ Dover facility and a leader in the organization. “We try to get these companies in to discuss the challenges to growth they face, and we have seven sub-groups, such as health, advocacy and energy issues, to help in these areas.”
However, long-term growth may involve the relocation of heavier industries into the region, which was part of the rationale for the state changing some provisions of the Coastal Zone Act, to be more attractive for large manufactures to relocate here. Additionally, there are now recently abandoned locations available between Wilmington and the Pennsylvania border.
“I was very impressed when I recently visited the Navy Ship Yard in Philadelphia, and saw what they were doing,” Nicastro said of the 1,200-acre business campus, which is home to more than 12,000 employees and 152 companies. “I can’t help but think we can do something similar in Delaware.”
Programming and robotics part of training
Most of the jobs and job training will be concentrated on what is called “advance manufacturing” instead of traditional manufacturing skills.
“No employer is using the same machinery they were using 30 years ago,” said Rich Heffron, head of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, which means that new workers need to be trained in skills such as computer programming and robotics.
“The challenge is to find trained employees to replace older workers who are retiring,” Nicastro added.
Nicastro also thinks it’s important for young people to change their idea of manufacturing as a “dark and dirty” place, and he even invites parents to accompany their teens during career events at the PPG plant during the annual National Manufacturing Week.
Soft skills just as important
Employers are increasingly demanding that young potential workers be trained in “soft skills” as well as technical skills.
“We did a survey of state manufacturers to ask what job skills they are currently looking for,” said Paul Morris, head of workforce training at Delaware Technical Community College, “and we were surprised that about 90 percent said they needed better ‘soft’ skills, such as being skilled in leadership, teamwork and problem-solving.”
Nicastro added that some newly hired young employees have little understanding of workplace practices, even about work scheduling, being surprised that “they’re going to have to work a 40-hour week. What we really need is for more companies to provide job internships for training.”
Finally, while recent federal cuts in corporate tax rates may spur growth, James Butkiewicz, professor and chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Delaware, warned, “My concern is that the tax plan increases the fiscal deficit. This will appreciate the dollar and worsen our trade deficit, and this could hurt manufacturing and agriculture.”
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced that it has been selected as 2017 Company of the Year by Instrument Business Outlook (IBO).
IBO is a respected industry newsletter that tracks trends in the laboratory products markets, monitoring hundreds of life science and analytical instrument companies on a daily basis.
Managing Editor Tanya Samazan noted: "Agilent has grown sales since fiscal 2015 while keeping costs constant. The company's fiscal 2017 revenue growth was its fastest since fiscal 2010. Agilent's new investments have also paid off. Changes include an expansion of Agilent's diagnostics business, entry into new markets such as cell analysis and Raman spectroscopy, and additions to successful franchises in NGS sample preparation and LC/MS, among other key product launches."
"We are pleased that IBO has recognized Agilent as their 2017 Company of the Year, citing our impressive growth," said Mike McMullen, Agilent's president and CEO. "Having the right strategy to secure growth is pivotal, but equally crucial is the right team, resolute in their commitment, and with one focus - to provide solutions and services which enable Agilent´s customers to be successful across the all the markets we serve."
The newsletter highlighted Agilent's increased growth in revenues, operating profit, and net income, noting that the gains were the result of a sustained effort to position the company for future growth.
"It is rewarding that an organization with an in-depth knowledge of the industry, such as IBO, recognizes Agilent´s current strategy is the right one resulting in consistent growth," said Patrick Kaltenbach, president of Agilent's Life Sciences and Applied Markets Group. "Growth fueled by our focus on Innovation with Purpose, introducing differentiated solutions to address customer needs, and our strong Operational Excellence in developing, manufacturing and commercialization of our products, all complemented by our recent acquisitions."
IBO is a twice-monthly publication of SDi, a division of BioInformatics LLC, which offers custom market research and consulting, and strategic advisory services. IBO will present the award to Agilent at the annual conference of the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) in San Diego in early February.
Legislators returned to Dover this week. Among items passed, the General Assembly included extending reporting deadlines for the Taskforces on the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana and on School Redistricting. Expect reports to come later in the session.
Also passed this week was a bill creating a committee dedicated solely with how Grant in Aid funding will be administered in the future. Calling for the establishment of a review process, and creating metrics to measure success, the committee will work in conjunction, but separately from JFC to distribute Grant in Aid. Next week will be Governor Carney’s State of the State Address on January 18.
The General Assembly returns next Tuesday with a full plate. Work will commence stemming from taskforces that met over the summer and fall, which include school district redistricting and changes in funding models, and the legalization of recreational marijuana. Thrown into the mix will be legislation to raise money to invest in clean water infrastructure, incentivize angel investors to provide capital to small startups in Delaware, and the fight on minimum wage legislation will no doubt continue. These bills, and ones to come, will be the focus of the Chamber this legislative session, along with continuing to implement legislation passed last year—namely the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the regulations surrounding modernizing the Coastal Zone Act.
In addition, the Chamber will be involved in ongoing budget discussions as the Administration and General Assembly continue to search for ways to address Delaware’s long term economic growth and sustainability. What will be interesting to see this year, is how the Federal tax plan will impact Delaware. Much of what was contained at the Federal level was proposed at the end of last year’s session to help fill a $350 million budget gap, including increasing the standard deduction, reducing itemized deductions, and modifying personal income tax bracket levels. If the projections the state Department of Finance provided last year hold true, that could mean big money for Delaware coffers, and reduce the chances for last minute budget battles this year.
All this, and more, to come. Stay tuned.
The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Federal Reserve on a Small Business Credit Survey for both pre-start and existing businesses, and we’d like you to participate. Your answers will help business service providers and lenders understand real-time business conditions. This short survey takes less than 9 minutes to complete. Individual responses are confidential and summary results will be shared with you.
Take the survey today!
Questions? Contact SmallBusinessResearch@atl.frb.org.
If you have problems with the link above, copy and paste the following URL into a new browser window:
Manufacturing Matters: Edgewell Personal Care Bolsters Local Manufacturing, Creates 140 Jobs in Dover
On December 7, Edgewell Personal Care, parent company of leading global personal care brands in the shave, feminine care, sun care, skin care and infant markets, joined colleagues, local officials, community leaders and Walmart representatives to recognize Edgewell’s commitment to local manufacturing and job creation. Edgewell recently completed the consolidation of its North American Feminine Care production at the company’s manufacturing facility in Dover, Del, resulting in 140 new jobs. Additionally, the company celebrated Walmart’s 10-year commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023.
“Within all of Edgewell’s manufacturing sites, we know that operating with passion, integrity and respect ultimately provides the best products and experience for our customers and consumers,” said Chris Crowell, vice president, Edgewell global operations. “As we strive to produce products that enhance the well-being of our consumers, it’s equally important that we manufacture these products as close to our customers as possible so we may respond quickly to their needs. This consolidation in Dover is an important step in positioning Edgewell to meet the requirements of our U.S. shoppers.”
Based on data from Boston Consulting Group, it’s estimated that one million new U.S. jobs will be created through Walmart’s initiative, including direct manufacturing job growth of approximately 250,000, and indirect job growth of approximately 750,000 in the support and service sectors.
“Our customers have told us that second to price, where products are made influences their purchase decisions,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. manufacturing. “We are focused on buying great quality products that create jobs in communities across the U.S. It makes sense for our customers, our communities and our company.”
For more information about Edgewell Personal Care and its portfolio of leading personal care brands, please visit www.edgewell.com.
Earlier this fall, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce membership participated in a survey on their view of Delaware’s economy, key issues, and polices impacting business growth. The survey results will play a key role in the Chamber’s 2018 issue and advocacy strategy, including a continued focus on creating a successful environment for small businesses. We are listening to you as we build our advocacy agenda for 2018, which will include your top policy priorities:
As we build on the successes of 2017, your continued engagement is vital to advancing a prosperous business climate and attracting new enterprises to the state.
A special thank you to members who took the survey.
Please take a few minutes to review the survey results by clicking here.
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.
November 1 began open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace. Whether you’re uninsured and looking to find coverage, or would like to explore the available options, you can use the Marketplace to find coverage that works for you. The open enrollment period is shorter this year than in the past and the final deadline for enrollment is December 15th. Don’t miss your chance to get covered!
During the open enrollment period, you can visit www.HealthCare.gov to create an account and find coverage that works with your budget and meets your needs. You can also see what financial help you may qualify for. If you have Marketplace coverage currently, you have the opportunity to review your application to ensure it’s up to date and report any life changes.
Quality coverage is more affordable than you may think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help – for most people, that meant they could find premiums from $50 to $100 a month. The Marketplace and expansion of the Medicaid program helped cut the U.S. uninsured rate down to a historic 8.8 percent. We can continue this progress by getting even more Americans covered, which also helps lower health coverage costs.
There is no need to worry about paying for sudden medical emergencies. Find a policy that brings you and your family peace of mind, and will provide no-cost preventative care. Before the Marketplace, high medical bills were the leading cause of personal bankruptcies. Now, you can be prepared for routine, preventative, and unexpected medical costs.
If you have any questions about signing up, or want to talk to a trained Marketplace navigator, free help is just a call or click away. To apply and enroll quickly online, visit www.HealthCare.gov, or call the Marketplace call center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-318-2596. A representative will be able to assist you in the enrollment process as well as to answer any questions you may have. There are also trained representatives you can speak with in person if you have questions.
Visit www.Localhelp.HealthCare.gov to find a representative near you.
Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.