Yesterday was a study in contrasts.
In the morning, we had the rather somber proceedings surrounding a $4.5 million Strategic Fund financial package for a proposed quarter of a billion-dollar fulfillment center for Amazon Services that would employ 1,000.
The unanimous endorsement came from the Delaware Council on Development Finance despite fervent pleas from State Rep. John Kowalko, and others to reject the package on grounds that handing over the funding would amount to corporate welfare for one of the world’s richest men, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The long-running Strategic Fund has been around for decades but has recently drawn fire for what critics see as a lack of transparency under a restructuring of the former Delaware Economic Development Office.
While the approval process is similar, the sponsoring agency is now the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, a public-private entity.
Amazon currently employs 2,500 full-time workers in Delaware, but has its share of critics here and elsewhere
A slight majority of those commenting on a previous column in this space on the Amazon project were in favor.
One opponent pointed to a friend who was one of the early workers at Amazon and ended up with carpel tunnel syndrome. Supporters saw the $4.5 million as a modest investment when compared to the nearly half a billion-dollar economic impact that would arise from the multi-story center.
The mood was different Monday afternoon when Dot Foods cut the ribbon on its food redistribution center in Bear.
The $37 million project is far more modest in scope than Amazon’s center and will employ a couple of hundred people when running full tilt.
Dot remains at its heart a family company that has already sunk roots in Delaware.
While one of the nation’s larger privately held companies, Dot was founded by a husband and wife with 12 children, one of whom now serves as CEO of the company.
The new Dot workers applauded enthusiastically as speakers praised the decision to locate the company’s 12th distribution center off Route 72.
Dot received a $1.1 million Strategic Grant from the state with none of the notoriety that came with Amazon’s request and with a warm welcome from state, county, and local officials.
Have a great day. Enjoy some pancakes and a little Louisiana music. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.