I was 24 when I started my first business. Making money to pay the bills was great too, but it was not the most rewarding aspect. I learned quickly that satisfying customers was great, but it was not the most rewarding part of getting up and going to work. The most rewarding for me was creating employment, providing a quality wage and meaningful career opportunities for our workers; jobs that enabled people to provide for their families.
Today, as County Executive, I see the world from a similar vantage point. The best way to improve quality of life and vibrancy of our communities is to provide a supportive environment for job and career creation. Whether low-skill entry-level jobs or highly advanced technically skilled careers, we have worked hard this past year to make sure New Castle County has plentiful job opportunities. Expect more of the same in 2020.
This past year, after the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and New Castle County collaboratively won a competition with two other states, DOT Foods, the largest food redistributor in North America, broke ground on its newest distribution facility in Bear. They are in the process today of hiring over 100 truck drivers and logistics professionals. According to the company, some of those who are hired today as drivers will within five years make annual salaries over $100,000. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in just a few weeks.
Other Delaware firms, large and small, chose to grow here. Leading global financial services, advanced chemical, pharmaceutical and port and logistics firms all are growing in New Castle County.
Wegmans recently announced they were opening their first supermarket in New Castle County and in Delaware. The groundbreaking is slated for 2020.
Adding to the list of innovative companies choosing New Castle County is FMC, who announced a $50M investment to establish a research and development headquarters in Newark. Also this year, Adesis, Incyte and Prelude Therapeutics all announced increased investment or job creation in New Castle County. These announcements further confirm the First County in the First State is among our nation’s first when it comes to growing companies engaged in advanced scientific research for the future.
While some growth is inevitable, our competitive location, the growing global and national economy and new strategic policies align to support quality job creation right here in New Castle County. Our Jobs Now program, created to streamline the planning and permitting processes for job-creating projects, has cut bureaucratic red tape and drastically improved turnaround times, setting unprecedented records while building New Castle County’s new reputation for efficiency. Today, there are approximately 11,890 jobs in the development pipeline.
Supporting entrepreneurship is a top priority. NCCInnovates is a two-pronged approach to supporting startup companies here in Delaware. It provides tools essential to small and large companies alike. This initiative also provides a grant opportunity that has invested more than $50,000 in local startups through sponsoring pitch competitions.
In 2019, your county government launched a 12-week startup boot camp for entrepreneurs called the First Founder’s Accelerator. The County has partnered with Swim with the Sharks, Great Dames and NeoFest to refined and identify great new local companies through competition. Carvertise, D150 Fueling, SAS Nanotechnologies, and Wilm Invest are among the innovative local firms that you should be watching. The Delaware Innovation Space at the world-renowned DuPont Experimental Station continues to develop the leading research science companies of tomorrow.
Creating quality work opportunities in 2020 is not just a matter of attracting and growing companies. It is also about educating and retraining the workforce of tomorrow.
As of October 31, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 5.8 million unemployed persons in our country. They also reported there were 7.3 million job opportunities. Too many people who are unemployed or underemployed are either unaware of or do not have the right training for the jobs that will be available in 2020 and beyond. Our government can and will continue to play a critical role in bridging that gap.
We are focused on expanding training opportunities. Our County partnered with Code Differently, JP Morgan, Capital One, Delaware City Refinery, Discover Bank and Incyte to provide the first summer coding program. Teens learned how to code and built, from scratch, websites for local small businesses. Nearly every young person today uses software. We believe those who learn to develop software will win the future.
We will continue our collaboration with the building trades and non-profit organizations seeking to expand opportunities. Our support of the Pathways to Apprenticeship program provided nine individuals with soft-skills training, mentorship and access to building trades apprenticeships. NCC is a proud supporter of Project New Start, a non-profit organization focused on reducing recidivism though life coaching and job-readiness programs for returning citizens. In addition, we have partnered with True Access Capital (formerly First State Community Loan Fund) to create business finance training specifically for small construction businesses.
Our success of 2019 are a testament to the hard work by countless individuals working together to create opportunity.
I believe 2020 will be an incredibly exciting year. We will recommit to improve the quality of life throughout New Castle County. We will do so by promoting an environment that continues to provide job opportunities, leads the market in supporting entrepreneurship, and partners with non-profits and other governments to provide the highest quality ecosystem for talent and for companies seeking an East Coast presence. These aspects will continue to make New Castle County a great place to live, work, play and learn.