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From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short

From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short - May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

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 over two 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.

The DBRT called on DCA and other stakeholders to provide input to and help guide the work of consultant KPMG as it reviewed the state’s processes for permitting. Many of DCA’s members provided input to KPMG’s review resulting in several recommendations to make Delaware more competitive. The most recent recommendation saw action this week as Representative Bill Bush’s HB 420 was released from the House Economic Development Committee and is on the House agenda as of this writing. HB 420, modernizes the state’s PLUS pre-application process for land use which was created 20 years ago to increase coordination between state agencies and to provide guidance to entities going through the development process. The PLUS process was needed at its inception and can still provide benefit for some projects but through technology, two decades of improved agency communication, and the expertise of some of Delaware’s most experienced engineers, architects and land use professionals, Delaware can now update the process. For our membership, HB 420 will hopefully result in more construction projects as more businesses choose to relocate to Delaware and those we already have choose to stay in Delaware for their expansion.

Two other opportunities coming to light from the KPMG Ready in 6 study have already been put in place. Earlier this year, Greg Patterson, who has experience working in three gubernatorial offices and multiple state agencies, was appointed by Governor Carney to review and streamline state regulations related to economic development, consistent with the Ready in 6 initiative. Last summer, SB 127, sponsored by Senator Jack Walsh, was signed into law. SB 127, known as the Site Readiness Fund, provides grants, loans and economic assistance to businesses and public entities that invest in constructing, renovating or improving infrastructure for sites that will attract new businesses or expand existing businesses within Delaware.

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 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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