Middletown pharma project – Proceed with the utmost caution

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Good afternoon all,

The Delaware Business Now Facebook page has been a quiet place in recent months as vaccinations took hold and businesses finally saw a phaseout of capacity and mask restrictions.

That changed with news of a Chinese pharmaceutical contract manufacturing company seeking $19 million in state grants to build a manufacturing campus in Middletown.

The pro-business  Middletown Town  Council quickly gave preliminary approval to the project, located on 187 acres.

The $19 million price tag also brings back unpleasant memories of the Fisker Automotive deal to produce a  plug-in hybrid vehicle at the former GM Boxwood plant near Newport.

We were among those who believed that a last-ditch effort to save the plant was worth the risk.

None of us were prepared for the scope of incompetence and bad luck that included battery fires and a storm sweeping hundreds of Karmas from a dock and into New Jersey waters.

The feds pulled the plug on the hybrid project, and Delaware was left $20 million or so poorer.

With that said, the pharma project could be, as our current president famously  once said,   a “big effin deal.” 

Delaware may be in a sweet spot when it comes to drug manufacturing. The Covid-19 pandemic brought home the point that an onshore presence in drug manufacturing has emerged as a  national security issue.

The question is whether a Chinese company is an answer given the structure of its military-industrial complex.

…all of the above blasts from the past provide ample evidence on the need to approach this deal with extreme caution

Readers also pointed to the Bloom Energy deal that never produced the number of forecast jobs and added to the electric bills of Delmarva Power customers.

To the west in Wisconsin, we have Foxconn, a company with extensive holdings in China that promised 10,000+ jobs in return for a breathtakingly large commitment from the state.

So far, the area that saw homes bulldozed to make way for the project consists of a building, a dome, and a former governor who lost a bid for another term. Foxconn itself drastically cut predictions of a $10 billion investment.

At present, there are reports that  Foxconn could get into the automobile business. The latest news involves, you guessed it, Fisker.

It seems Henrik Fisker’s latest venture wants to build an all-electric sport utility vehicle on a contract basis, following his disastrous first venture. Mexico and presumably the Wisconsin site are in the running.

We may have strayed from the subject at hand, but all of the above blasts from the past provide ample evidence on the need to approach this deal with extreme caution. – Doug and Sharon Rainey

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