Delaware Grows Quality of Place Assets
22 Nov, 2013
By Rachel Duran
Officials in Delaware are planning for the future, including strengthening the state’s economic development advantages. In September, Gov. Jack Markell launched the Delaware Cyber Aces Program, an online cybersecurity education and training program. Delaware is one of six states hosting Cyber Aces, which has had 6,500 participants nationwide. The effort is to support the state’s increase in demand for IT and cybersecurity professionals.
The Delaware Cyber Aces targets high school and college students, veterans and jobseekers in an effort to identify and develop top talent. All applicants are eligible for the first round competition, which consists of three training modules and corresponding testing.
In another initiative, the state has launched the Join Delaware Schools program to recruit educators to teach in the state’s schools. Central to the campaign is www.joindelawareschools.org, which is a one-stop website to look for and learn about education jobs. The central hiring website and common application for every school will make it easier for schools to recruit.
Industries and Innovations
Delaware’s industry clusters include aerospace and aviation; green and material sciences; health care and life sciences; insurance and financial services, and tourism.
Kent County’s officials are focusing on agrotourism initiatives, including forming a food innovation district. The county is home to 15 food processing companies, including Kraft Foods, which moved production of Kool-Aid from Mexico to Kent County. What’s more, a new winery has recently started operations, featuring “12 acres of grapes, a processing facility and an event facility,” says Jim Waddington, director, Kent Economic Partnership.
Waddington says there are more than 60,000 acres of permanently preserved farmland, “at a public investment cost of more than $100 million in real dollars, and close to $150 million in discounted value, where the land owners discounted the value in order to put their land into farmland preservation.”
Kent County is also home to Dover Air Force Base, which provides heavy cargo airlift capabilities worldwide. The base features the Garrison Oak Technology Park, which has added UZIN UTZ, a floor product manufacturer, Waddington notes. In addition, Calpine Corp. is building an electric generation facility. Called the Garrison Energy Center, the Calpine project is a 309-megawatt combined-cycle electric generating facility.
Back at the state level, in the aerospace and aviation sector, in May, GE Aviation announced an expansion of its Newark facility. The company will invest $27 million and add 70 jobs to create a LEAN laboratory to support its increased production of ceramic matrix composites, which are used to make advanced aircraft engine components.
In other industry activity, in September, ILC Dover held a grand opening in Seaford. The company is in the process of staffing Grayling Industries, which has launched operations at a 90,000-square-foot facility. The company is moving production lines and equipment to the site from Juarez, Mexico, which will be used to manufacture safety products for contamination control on asbestos abatement projects, and industrial packaging products for shipping and storage of bulk liquids and dry flowable products.
In regard to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, in October, three Pop-Up Businesses held grand openings. Project Pop-Up is a joint effort of the Delaware Economic Development Office and local stakeholders. Once-vacant properties in the downtown areas of Milford, Milton, Smyrna and Dover have been transformed into opportunities. The program offers small business owners a head start at brick-and-mortar locations, providing three months of rent-free retail space to five businesses. The program also offers the services of a business advisor.
Talent and Education
In other entrepreneurial programming, Start It Up Delaware, a public-private partnership, will serve as a hub for entrepreneurial activity. Support comes from Delaware’s financial, accounting, legal and real estate communities. Partners will collaborate with the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Tech, as well as other institutions, to move startup businesses forward.
In a higher education related development, an agreement between the University of Delaware and the Delaware Municipal Electric Corp. (DMEC) will direct revenues from the sale of wind energy credits to a graduate student studying wind energy, at a minimum guaranteed level of $35,000 a year.
Research conducted in regard to wind energy include social acceptance (how does the public perceive wind energy?); characterizing the wind resource (is this a transformative resource or is it a small resource?); reviews of regulations; reviews of environmental affects; technical research as to the performance of the turbine; and marine spatial planning, and tradeoffs between offshore wind energy and other uses and users in the marine environment.
In 2010, the University of Delaware commissioned a 2-megawatt wind turbine on its campus in Lewes, several hundred meters from Delaware Bay. It powers the Hugh R. Sharp campus, which is part of the university’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. Excess power is fed to the grid, at the same cost that the Lewes Board of Public Works pays wholesale. The turbine is owned by First State Marine Wind, “a joint venture between a 100 percent university-held company called Blue Hen Wind, and Gamesa USA, the manufacturer of the wind turbine,” says Dr. Jeremy Firestone, a professor at the school of marine science and policy. He is also the director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration. The interdisciplinary center focuses on wind energy, mostly offshore, and grid integrated electric vehicles.
In regard to the installed wind turbine, the university and the Lewes Board of Public Works buy the power. “Under state law, and most states have Renewable Portfolio Standards, the utilities in the state have to hold renewable energy certificates equal to a percentage of their total load,” Firestone says. “We entered into an agreement with DMEC to sell it renewable energy credits that are generated by the wind turbine. The proceeds from the sale of those credits to DMEC are dedicated to a graduate student fellowship.”
Delaware’s economic development leaders realize the importance of quality of place in business attraction. In his 2013 state-of-the-state address, Gov. Markell stated: “In the years to come, Delawareans will be able to walk and bike to work because of the investments we are making today. Delaware is now in the top 10 of bike friendly states, up from 31st four years ago. Our First State Trails and Pathways Initiative is connecting neighborhoods, parks, and downtowns throughout our state.”
More recently, in his October 11 radio address, the governor touched on quality of place. He was promoting the Sussex Outdoor Summit, which was held at the Stockley Center near Georgetown, where discussion was to include recommendations for the expanded uses of the 750-acre site to support quality of life initiatives.
“Businesses want to go where the talent is and talented people want to work in places where they and their families want to live,” said Gov. Markell in his radio address. “The investments we continue to make in our trails and pathways not only support our overall health and well-being, they help grow our economy, make our state a magnet for talented workers and keep Delaware moving forward.
Illustration by Stuart Miles at Free Digital Photos.net