by Michael J. Quaranta
This past year was one that started with a great deal of uncertainty as the Delaware General Assembly began work in January 2019 with one of the largest membership changes it had experienced in decades. No one quite knew what to expect from these newly elected officials or how they would vote on issues critical to the business community. As winter ended and the weeks rolled on towards the end of the legislative session, it became clear the General Assembly made pragmatic choices and the business community fared reasonably well. Our Developing Delaware event in October 2018 yielded an important work product which is now known as “Delaware in 6.” With strong interest in this effort by Governor Carney, the State Chamber in partnership with Association of Chambers of Commerce and others, we drew attention to the amount of time it takes for permitting applications to be completed. The firm, KPMG is finishing a study about permitting approvals in Delaware. This will help guide policymakers in making necessary changes if we are to compress the time it takes to finish the permitting process and compete with surrounding states and localities.
Fast forward to the 2019 Developing Delaware conference just a few months ago, and this event focused on workforce development. We need to find ways to retrain under-employed Delawareans. The five days a week, eight hours a day programs to aid these people and prospective employers, already exist. However, help is needed to keep people afloat while going through these retraining classes. If we move people from
low-skill, low-wage jobs to employment with a future and wages that pay more than $15 per hour, we can change people and their families. How great would it be for a ten-year-old to see her mom or dad
go back to school for twenty weeks? How great would it be to change the orbit a family is presently on, and give them hope and the potential for a much-improved standard of living? Employers need workers with
basic skill sets. We believe that connecting these dots is a win-win for employers and potential employees. Yes, a challenging set of details exist before making this a reality, but a “hand up” is sustaining and better
than a “handout.” And, if retrained Delawareans are upskilled and earn better wages, the taxpayer has his money returned in the form of higher income taxes, and the absence of transfer payments to people due to
their previously low-income status.
We have historically low unemployment now, and we need to retrain
everyone willing to enter programs that will give employers and employees a brighter future. These and other priorities will be our focus in 2020. Onward!