Written on: June 26th, 2012 in Effective & Efficient Government
When I visit local businesses – which I do all the time – I ask one question: How can we facilitate growth and success for their company? Their answer is often the same: businesses want a talented workforce as well as strong schools and thriving communities in which their employees and their families can live, learn and grow.
It's no secret that job creation is key to strengthening Delaware's economy, so here are a few ways we're addressing their answer.
Improving the economic climate in Delaware requires that all of us work together – private sector, all levels of government, community organizations, even academia.
This team approach will be especially important in the coming months as we look to tackle outdated, ineffective and redundant regulations while giving a boost to small business. When Executive Order #36 was signed, we launched a statewide effort that brings citizens, businesses and state agencies together to identify and remove regulatory hurdles.
Regulations can help meet shared goals. They allow us to drink clean water and breathe clean air. But we want to know when regulations aren't working – when they're intrusive, when they‘re slowing things down. This statewide effort will find those problems and remove them.
“This reinforces Delaware's ranking among the best places in the country to do business. Small businesses are deeply appreciative and we're looking forward to working with the Governor's administration to implement this order.“
– Ellen Valentino, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses
Just this year, businesses Capital One and Bloom Energy announced plans to create jobs in Delaware, while others currently operating in Delaware, including Amazon and JP Morgan Chase, announced plans to expand their Delaware workforce.
“We look forward to opening our second facility in Delaware this year, creating more than 850 new jobs in the state. We're grateful to state, county and local leaders who have committed to Amazon jobs and investment.”
– Dave Clark, vice president, global customer fulfillment at Amazon
Businesses looking to locate in Delaware want to know their employees will not only have access to good schools, but also safe neighborhoods, active communities and engaged leaders who are focused on continually enhancing the quality of life for residents.
We're constantly seeing evidence of this work being done - both by state and local officials as well as community organizations and local residents alike. Whether it's making air quality improvements at a local transportation facility or getting local municipalities to agree to lower their electric rates, it's clear that Delawareans come together to ensure the First State is first on the list for prospective businesses.
“[The Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation] and its member communities share Governor Markell's goal of making Delaware one of the most attractive and competitive locals in the world. We recognize how important lower energy costs are to Delaware
– Patrick McCullar, CEO of the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation
A talented workforce is developed through great public schools and great public schools attract a talented workforce. Our new Secretary of Education, Mark Murphy, understands this and has already begun working with teachers, community members and local school districts to see how we can continue to enhance the public school system. We're working to strengthen our schools, in part, through putting emphasis on STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, STEM occupations are expected to grow by 17% from 2008 to 2018 compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations. With this in mind, last year Delaware officials convened a STEM Council to take a look at how we can be more competitive in this area. Community leaders donated thousands of hours of time to create a strong series of recommendations on how we can better prepare our kids for the future. The full report is available at stem.delaware.gov.
“You don't need a crystal ball to see what the future holds – though not all our students will pursue a STEM career, the vast majority of them will absolutely need some STEM skills to compete. Our ultimate goal is to create a seamless Pre–K–through–higher education STEM system so that our students have every opportunity to succeed, and provide the workforce to attract STEM businesses to Delaware.“
– Former US Senator, Ted Kaufman
Guest Post by Anas Ben Addi, Director of DSHA
Here in Delaware, and across the country, June is National Homeownership Month and the home buying season is in full-swing — an exciting time when many individuals begin considering what may be their future home.
At the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA), we have been hard at work developing programs to ensure each Delawarean has the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of owning their home. Homeownership provides individuals, families and communities with a sense of security and stability. Purchasing a home can be a big investment, particularly for first-time home buyers, but many people find that they offset the upfront cost of buying a home by taking simple steps like applying for tax deductions. Additionally, with historically low mortgage rates, many potential home buyers are seeing added benefits to locking in a 15 or 30-year fixed rate right now.
Benefits from homeownership go beyond the obvious financial ones. For example, children can benefit from the stability homeownership offers including staying in the same school district for extended periods of time and learning positive finance and budget habits from their parents that come from owning a home. Additionally, homeownership benefits the community around you. Homeowners often live in their home longer than renters do. As a result, homeowners are often likely to become more involved in their community by voting, getting involved in their civic associations and shopping locally.
Through DSHA, Delawareans can find a range of programs to help them purchase a new home. For instance, the First Time Homebuyer Program offers individuals who haven’t owned a home in three years below-market mortgage rates at a time when rates are already at all-time lows. Similarly, Loans for Heroes provides qualified veterans below-market rates regardless of the last time they purchased a home. Additionally, other programs such as Rebuilding Our Community and the Second Mortgage Assistance Loan are available to help individuals with closing costs and down payment. We have worked to provide a program to meet all housing and financing needs and we hope Delawareans take advantage of this time to consider their options.
There is currently a large inventory of homes at varied price points, making it easier for Delawareans to find the home that’s right for them. I encourage Delawareans to take this time to make a plan, learn more about homeownership and take a look at homes within their budget – you may be surprised by what you find.
For more information on the programs mentioned, please visit Delaware State Housing Authority’s website at: www.destatehousing.com or call 302.739.4263.
Written on: June 7th, 2012 in Guest Posts
Guest Post by Collin O’Mara, Secretary, DE Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
For generations, starting with the stewardship of the Lenape and Nanticoke Peoples through the outdoor-lovers of today, people living on the Delmarva Peninsula have recognized the significance of our Delaware Bayshore. Although many of us just think of this remarkable area as a scenic part our state along Route 9 (or 1), around the world it is recognized as globally significant wildlife habitat—from National Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy to the Global Ramsar Treaty and Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network—due to the expansive coastal marshes, shoreline, farmland land and upland forests that provide critical habitat to more than 400 species of birds and incredibly diverse wildlife.
This is a region of incredible importance and every generation has done their part:
Thanks to numerous partners, more than 60% of the land in the Delaware Bayshore is fully protected as National Wildlife Refuges, State Wildlife Areas, State Parks, Farmland Preservation, Cultural Heritage Sites, or private conservation lands. These areas surround and help connect historic local communities like Del City, Port Penn, Leipsic, Little Creek, Bowers Beach, Slaughter Beach, Milford and Lewes.
The Delaware Bayshore Initiative is built upon a simple premise: that protecting and investing in our natural resources is one of the best ways to grow our economy.
Our Bayshore offers unrivalled recreational opportunities for hunters and anglers, boaters and kayakers, hikers and bikers, casual wildlife watchers, and families seeking outdoor opportunities to recreate and learn about nature—we want to build upon these strengths.
We also host thousands of birders and biologists from around the world who come to the Bayshore to witness the annual spring spectacle of more than a half million shorebirds, like Red Knots, taking a rest stop to dine on the eggs of horseshoe crabs.
Yet despite all of these amazing outdoor experiences, millions of visitors race straight down Highway 1 every year directly to our pristine beaches without any idea of the treasurers that they’re passing by.
2. Low-Impact Recreation
3. Stronger Communities
In each of these areas, there are a lot of activities already underway. We have a long list of current projects , but suffice to say we are maximizing the impact of State Wildlife Grants and other critical federal and state resources to conserve critical lands, restore wildlife habitat, and improve waterway access.
Just in the last year, we have worked with our partners to protect nearly 500 additional acres of land—and we’re working with our partners to protect thousands more, we’ve restored more than 600 acres of forest, wetlands, meadows and shrublands on public and private lands, and we’ve worked to control Phragmites on nearly 6,000 acres of tidal marsh on public/private lands.
We are also working with Delaware Greenways and DelDOT to complete the designation of the Route 9 corridor as a Scenic Byway.
This is not to suggest that this Initiative will not be without challenges:
Overall, we are confident that this Initiative will be a great success and we hope you will join us.
If the legacy of the past half century is land protection—let our chapter be focused on restoring wildlife habitat, strengthening local economies, and connecting people with America’s (and Delaware’s) Great Outdoors.
Let’s work with local communities and small businesses to enhance the Bayshore experience and strengthen local economies. Let’s marshal our resources once again to ensure that the Bayshore remains forever wild for current and future generation—as an economic driver for the state—and as a true national conservation area. The Delaware Bayshore Initiative is a concept whose time has come. It’s time is now.
So come, explore the Bayshore and discover Delaware’s wild side!