As Delaware chalks up some wins on the economic development front, it is important to remember that things could have turned out differently.
Take, for example, the case of the STAR Campus at the University of Delaware. Had former University of Delaware President Patrick Harker (who was urged by then-Gov. Jack Markell to buy the Chrysler site) decided that the risk of acquiring the Chrysler Corp. site was too great, we might have ended up with a distribution center site churning out $15 an hour jobs or, worse yet, a weedy industrial site.
Instead, UD Chemours, SevOne and other companies have or will bring upwards of 2,000 good jobs to the site.
It might have been easier for Chemours to have jumped across the line to New Jersey or Pennsylvania for its headquarters and Discovery Hub R&D center. Instead, Chemours yesterday broke ground for the $150 million R&D center in Newark after opting to keep its headquarters in Wilmington.
To the south, when the Allen and Townsend family businesses ran into difficulties, we could have seen large companies operate processing plants and movehigher paying managementjobs elsewhere.
Instead, Mountaire and Korean poultry company Allen Harim kept headquarters operations in the state. Salisbury’s Perdue, which has more employees in Delaware than in Maryland, is also moving its agribusiness headquarters across the state line to Delaware.
The above examples demonstrate that Delaware can hold its own when government and business work together.
Granted, there are risks involved. The financially conservative University of Delaware is hitting the debt markets for a biopharmaceutical research center that will house a research partnership and room for start-ups.
There is also a shortage of good-paying blue collar jobs that we once had at GM and Chrysler, although upwards of half a billion dollars in construction will keep hundreds busy in that key sector of the economy.
None of this is intended to suggest that Delaware can’t do more on the jobs front. But thanks to persistence and hard work from many, the state has set the stage for a more diversified economy that will pay dividends in the future.
Am I looking at recent news through rose-colored glasses? Let me know. Hit the return button and fire away. – Doug Rainey, Editor.
(Editor’s note) The wording in a previous version of this story might have led to the impression that Gov. Jack Markell was opposed to the purchase of the STAR campus. Markell strongly supported the purchase)