By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
The General Assembly gaveled out of session early on July 1, 2020 in what was the earliest ending in recent memory due to what has been an almost indescribable year to date. With little to no drama on the money bills (Budget, Grants in Aid, and Bond) as they were passed on June 29th, the General Assembly was left to close out a few bills on consent agendas.
The Senate said goodbye to retiring Senator Harris McDowell, and the House bid farewell to retiring Representative Quinn Johnson. This means that for next session there will be two new co-chairs for the Joint Finance Committee and both the Senate and House Energy Committees will have new chairs as well.
As the General Assembly came back to session in January, members seemed poised to pass a series of legislation that included increasing Delaware’s minimum wage, expanding worker’s rights, and increasing the role and presence of private and public employee unions. Those bills largely went nowhere, and with the COVID-19 pandemic altering how the legislature would work, those bills were placed on hold until next year.
The same can be said for legislation the business community supported as well. Efforts to invest in clean water infrastructure, building a new high school in the City of Wilmington, modifying the state’s offerings of Association Health Plans and creating new workforce training platforms (more on that later) all took a pause as well.
That said, a number of bills important to the business community were introduced, and some were acted on in the final weeks of this session. They included:
In the midst of three months of uncertainty, countless Zoom meetings with Governor Carney, members and staff from his Administration, the chambers of commerce community, stakeholder groups and others, there were a number of positives that were announced, and work completed ahead of schedule.
The State Chamber has long been an advocate for rural broadband development and adoption. Last year’s announcement of BlooSurf, a project to bring broadband to western Sussex and Kent counties was met with fierce approval. Originally slated to be completed in 18-24 months, the project was able to be completed in just over 12 by using federal CARES Act funds to speed up the building process. In July 2020, 15 towers are set to be completed. Efforts to promote residential adoption of broadband will roll out soon after in preparation for what could be another school year of distance learning. Now children in these communities will be able to be active participants. Similar broadband adoption efforts are taking place in Wilmington with the similar goal of making sure all children have access to distance learning efforts.
For the last year, the State Chamber has pushed for the creation of a workforce training program similar to what has worked with ZipCode Wilmington. A compressed, 40-hour week training schedule focusing on in-demand career paths that will help transition low-skill workers into better paying jobs. While the legislation creating this program was not worked on this year, we continue to work with Governor Carney and his Administration on creative ways to implement such a program, especially in light of the potential permanent job losses related to COVID-19.
Between now and January 2021, when the 151st General Assembly convenes, much will have happened:
There remains a great deal of uncertainty as we enter the second half of 2020. What does remain certain, however, is the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s dedication to advocacy on behalf of its members – the business community.
Look for more opportunities in the coming months to hear from experts on the latest trends as the COVID-19 pandemic, and recovery, continue to evolve. Also look for innovative networking opportunities and other creative ways to get your business noticed. For more information, check www.DSCC.com.
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.
Contributed by DSCC Member Adesis
Adesis, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Universal Display Corporation (Nasdaq: OLED), today announced that it will open a new suite of state-of-the-art laboratories in Delaware and expand its organic chemistry team and R&D programs. This additional footprint is expected to help drive growth opportunities in areas including next-generation OLED (organic light emitting diode) emitter and host materials and meet the growing demand for the Company’s custom organic synthesis, research & development, and specialty manufacturing services. Adesis also announced that it became a sponsor of Delaware Innovation Space (DISI) and joined its entrepreneurial innovation community. Working with DISI, Adesis signed an agreement for approximately 7,000 square feet of laboratory space at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware. The new suite of laboratories, which includes additional ancillary work and meeting space, is expected to augment Adesis’ on-going operations and recently-purchased 47,500 square feet headquarter building in New Castle.
“Delaware is home to a number of great chemical and manufacturing companies like Adesis, who are committed to making a world-class product with a great local workforce,” said U.S. Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.). “I am delighted to see Adesis and their parent company UDC grow in Delaware as they expand their market reach and product offerings to more users around the world.”
“We are pleased to announce our expanding footprint and increased investment to further boost research, innovation and job opportunities in Delaware,” said Andrew Cottone, President of Adesis, Inc. “As a leading organic synthesis CRO (contract research organization), we are adding to and extending our discovery services and process development capacity for customers across the pharmaceutical, chemical, biomaterials, and catalysts industries. We are enhancing our productivity and effectiveness by streamlining the technology transfer and optimizing the workflow from basic research to specialty manufacturing. Furthermore, by co-locating in our New Castle headquarters and the Experimental Station, we believe that we are building a world-class technology and manufacturing hub to support our customers from innovation to commercialization.”
“Adesis continues to invest in Delaware, and we are thrilled that the company will bring its long track record of innovation to the Delaware Innovation Space,” said Governor John Carney. “We partnered with DuPont and the University of Delaware to create the Innovation Space to foster growth of early-stage scientific-based companies, and encourage collaboration among Delaware’s most talented innovators. The addition of Adesis will support that mission, and we’re thankful for the company’s continued partnership.”
This recent expansion by Adesis was rapidly enabled by the seamless cooperation of the Delaware government and business leaders who have fostered a robust scientific ecosystem.
“The Delaware Innovation Space is pleased to be able to support the growing needs of Adesis and accelerate its business forward right here in Delaware,” said Bill Provine, CEO of the Delaware Innovation Space. “Adesis will be a great new member of our science-based innovation community, and we look forward to working with them to further capitalize on the strengths of our new entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Adesis has also been assisted by the newly formed Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP). The DPP was recently created by Delaware as a public/private partnership to accelerate economic development efforts.
“It has been a pleasure working with Andrew Cottone and Adesis to help facilitate their Delaware expansion, both in New Castle and at the Delaware Innovation Space,” said John Riley, Interim CEO of the DPP. “This would have been difficult to accomplish had the State, DuPont, and the University of Delaware not set the foundation for success with the formation of the Delaware Innovation Space earlier this year.”
by Mark DiMaio
We Work for Health Delaware (WWFH) is a grassroots initiative to illustrate how biopharmaceutical and medical innovation work together to create a strong and vibrant economy. WWFH Delaware brings together business, labor and community partners seeking to raise awareness about the vital role biomedical research plays in delivering life-saving technology, as well as well-paying jobs. We Work for Health Delaware took to Capitol Hill this week to meet with the Delaware Federal delegation to discuss renewing the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA); elimination of the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB); and maintaining a non-interference clause in the Medicare Part D drug program. WWFH Delaware also stressed the importance of keeping Delaware in the forefront of biopharma innovation as a driver of economic development and well-paying jobs for the state.
The WWFH Delaware delegation was comprised of Reverend Robert Hall, Executive Director, Delaware Ecumenical Council on Children & Families; James Maravelias, President, Delaware AFL-CIO & WWFH Delaware Co-Chair; Helen Stimson, President, Delaware BioScience Association & WWFH Delaware Co-Chair; and Mark DiMaio, Director of Grassroots & Research, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. The group met with Senator Carper, Senator Coons and Congresswoman Blount-Rochester and their staffs to discuss WWFH’s key issues and how elected leaders have a direct impact on policies that help Delaware’s
research and development organizations prosper.
At a recent State Chamber networking event at Christiana Mall, attendees heard from general manager Steve Chambliss and Delaware Department of Labor secretary John McMahon about the difficulties retailers are having filling the upwards of 700 seasonal jobs currently available at the Mall.
These difficulties stem in large part from an unqualified labor pool struggling to find employment and lacking both the necessary hard and soft skills. The Department of Labor has instituted a program to train candidates not only in how to write a resume and interview for a job, but also goes so far as to donate appropriate clothing to wear at an interview.
At locations around the state, The Division of Employment and Training (DET) provides services enabling employers and job seekers to make informed employment and training choices leading to employment. Through a one stop website, https://joblink.delaware.gov, employers can list jobs, candidates can build a resume and also peruse career lattices in six industries to research what skills and education are required to be successful in those industries. The industries in the lattice include information technology, finance, manufacturing, restaurant hospitality, gateway and wholesale/retail and within each lattice there are several paths or “tracks” that can be explored allowing candidates to find more information about an occupation, how to “climb the ladder” within an industry as well as average pay scale.
The Department of Labor reports that annually over 50,000 job seekers and career changes post their resume and search for opportunities in Delaware JobLink. For more information, visit https://joblink.delaware.gov.