New Delaware Chamber of Commerce President Michael Quaranta deserves credit for focusing on the development permitting process.
“While no one wants to put public health or safety at risk, we must be creative in finding ways to streamline and accelerate permitting decisions. If surrounding states and municipalities are competing for the same job growth opportunities we are seeking, we have no choice but to be faster, smarter and quicker than the competition,” Quaranta wrote in a message to members.
For some neighborhood activists, these might seem to be fighting words. What Quaranta is actually suggesting is a process with predictable timeframes for all involved, especially in cases where there are no outstanding issues.
Earlier this year, I sat down with New Castle County land use officials who cited many examples of the process becoming more efficient.
But the negativeperception remains a potent weapon in adjacent areas with many built-in disadvantages. Developers have far too many examples of otherwise routine projects that ended up taking way too long to get through the process and ended up with few changes.
Not mentioned by Quaranta was the Delaware Department of Transportation, which is tasked with doing traffic studies. While DelDOT is an easy target for critics of all sorts, the department needs to be part of the conversation.
Quaranta went to askfor suggestions from members and announced that a statewide economic development conference is in the works.
Others will suggest that issues, such as education and the quality of the workforce are more important. Over the long term, they are correct. (Delaware actually ranks high when it comes to the state’s workforce, according to an otherwise gloomy CNBC ranking).
But the fact remains that if an employer wants to expand or move to portions of Delaware, a lack of suitable shovel-ready sites quickly puts us out of the running. – Doug Rainey, publisher.