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From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short

From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short - April 14, 2023

DCA has been a leader in the Ready in 6 initiative since the Delaware Business Roundtable (DBRT) called for key stakeholders to make it a priority. Given that it has been three years since the effort began, some may have forgotten what this initiative is and where it came from. In the fall of 2019, the Delaware Chamber of Commerce held its first “Developing Delaware” conference focusing on the time it takes for building projects to be approved in Delaware. National site selectors attended the conference informing attendees that Delaware takes substantially longer than its competitors resulting in many companies seeking a new site to not even consider Delaware.

Last session Ready in 6 legislation saw a sad ending when it did not receive action in the Senate but last week saw new life breathed into the effort. Along with other business chambers, I testified on behalf of DCA’s membership before the House Economic Development Committee in support of two Ready in 6 bills: HB 102 and HB 104. HB 102 expedites the issuance of temporary entrance permits for commercial and economic development projects. HB 104 assists in expediting the PLUS process for economic development projects with some exemptions from the PLUS process. Both pieces of legislation have the support of the Carney administration and following their committee hearing picked up support from committee members who have previously been reserved in their support. Both pieces of legislation have now passed the House and moved to the Senate where they have been assigned to separate Senate committees for hearings.

In addition to HB 102 and HB 104, Representative Bill Bush, who has been championing this effort in the General Assembly, introduced two other Ready in 6 bills. HB 101 directs DelDOT and DNREC to develop a program to allow for the expedited review of entrance plans and stormwater and sediment plans associated with new development. Under this process a consultant pre-approved by the agencies would conduct the review with the costs of review being paid directly by the developer. HB 103 creates a transportation impact fee for areas within state strategies and spending levels 1 and 2 that are not currently within an approved Transportation Improvement District (TID). The bill’s synopsis states that the impact fee will ensure that development contributes a reasonable, responsible share of the transportation impact to fund off-site improvements including but not limited to bringing substandard roads to current standards, improving pedestrian facilities, and upgrading deficient intersections while allowing the Department of Transportation to implement the improvements in a more cohesive way. The fees are to be utilized within the counties where they are collected. Both bills have been assigned to the House Economic Development Committee for hearings following the General Assembly’s Easter recess.

The Ready in 6 initiative has been a slow painful process but the work is important to Delaware’s economy. DCA has played a critical role in assisting in this work through its participation in the Ready in 6 coalition, its advocacy to the governor and its testimony at General Assembly committee hearings for the two bills noted. There’s much more to do based upon the report’s findings but we are making progress and DCA will continue to play a critical role in this effort to strengthen Delaware’s economy.

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