By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce respectfully offered a number of policies to the 151st General Assembly that, if enacted, would assist the business community in rebounding from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time help Delaware workers find new opportunities.
TAX CREDIT FOR RAPID WORKFORCE TRAINING & REDEPLOYMENT INITIATIVE HIRES
This past summer, Governor Carney issued Executive Order #43, which established the Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative, a time compressed curriculum to be focused on in-demand industry sectors and/or occupations. The program will make available certificate programs, certification programs and access to the Today’s Reinvestment Around Industry Needs (“TRAIN”) program to help prepare Delaware workers who may have been displaced by the impact of COVID-19 find a new career path. The State Chamber recommends a refundable tax credit be made available to employers who hire graduates from these programs much the same as the credit for hiring veterans and those with disabilities.
ENGAGE IN CREATING PROCESS-RELATED EFFICIENCES IN OVERSIGHT AGENCIES
In recent years the State Chamber has focused on the process log jams that serve as impediments to development in Delaware. By working with agencies like DelDOT, the Chamber worked to streamline plan review process, resulting in simple project submission documents for a number of common projects, like curb cut-outs and driveway access. The Chamber has commitments from DelDOT to continue to find ways to streamline these processes, and now will be working with DNREC to do the same. These partnerships serve to find innovative solutions to issues without sacrificing public input and holding accountable applicants with incomplete application submissions.
FOCUS ON CHILDCARE
It is estimated nationally 30% of childcare facilities will not reopen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact to employers and employees will be felt across all sectors and become a challenge for all to overcome. Access to childcare in increasing in importance as businesses continue to reopen and expand operating capacity. While not a crisis in Delaware yet, the State Chamber urgers a proactive response by the General Assembly to prepare for this eventuality.
In addition, the State Chamber will be working with our Federal delegation to make much needed changes the CARES Act. A top priority change would be to extend the deadline for spending appropriated funds. Many programs Delaware directed CARES dollars towards, including expanding rural broadband, are a long-term investment due to construction needs, etc. While the State can appropriate these dollars, it is next to impossible to actually spend the money prior to the current deadline. Other priorities include an expansion of COVID-19 testing to help ensure businesses remain open, which in turn helps state finances and negates a need for tax increases next year.
2021 is bound to be a period of flux and transition. With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt, the possibility of a vaccine being developed and distributed, along with a new President, Congress, Administration, and our own General Assembly, the business community should prepare itself to be more nimble than ever with change happening at lightning speed.