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DelDOT says its not the bad guy when it comes to Chrismas tree lot in Newark

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The Delaware Department of Transportation is taking pains to not be seen as the Grinch that Stole Christmas when it comes to a Christmas tree lot on Elkton Road,  operated by a local Boy Scout troop. The agency has been under fire downstate for land deals and problems related to the Indian River Bridge project and does not  need more negative PR.

Still, this weekend,  Brookside-based Boy Scout Troop 603 is expected   move its  lot to a site off Marrows Road  in Brookside,  southeast of  the city of Newark. The problem facing  Scouts  is  a two-year construction project on Elkton Road that has made access to the lot more difficult.

“At no time have they been denied the ability to sell their trees or told they could not continue,”  said Mike Williams, public relations  director for DelDOT in an e- mail response.

Williams confirmed in the e-mail that the traffic pattern around the lot was switched as part of the project. The change  eliminated the  shoulder in front of the tree lot that was previously used for parking.

According to Williams,   two suggestions were made. The first would  have cars pull into the lot to load the trees and the second was to request Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Co.  (at an adjacent parcel) if their parking lot could be used.

Calling the situation a nightmare, Debra Pragg, who has been associated with Troop 603  and the tree lot for many years,  said lot   is not paved and that wet weather could lead to a muddy mess  for tree shoppers.  With the   forecast calling for rain on Sunday,  it was decided to move the lot to the Marrows Road site, next to a baseball field.

Pragg said the troop was given no notice about the traffic changes, adding that a new site will also be needed for  next year, due to the ongoing construction. According to Pragg, Troop 603 has operated the tree lot since 1964.

The tree business has not been easy the  troop, which relies on the sales as a major source of funds for its activities.  Pragg said.  The troop was also not  included in a listing of tree lots by the state’s largest newspaper, the News Journal.

In addition to challenges that come with the current economy, the lot has seen stiff competition from artificial trees, Pragg said.

“We have our regulars,” she said, but added that numbers have dropped.

The new  Boy Scout lot is also a short distance away from another longtime holiday fixture in the  area, the Brookside Lions tree lot.

Ruling the Air

Verizon Wireless appeared to take  the lead in terms of of offering high-speed wireless service with the  launch of its 4G LTE network.on Sunday, Dec. 5. Verizon Wireless’ says the network will be the fastest and most advanced 4G network in America. The rollout is taking place in many, if not most of the nation’s large metro areas.

The 4G LTE joins the Clearwire network in northern Delaware as 4G providers. Clearwire includes Comcast and Sprint as partners.  The reason for saying that Verizon Wireless is taking the lead has to do with a look at the coverage map. While there are a  number of gaps in the  Clear network, the Verizon 4G LTE seems to cover a large part of New Castle County north of the C&D canal, including my home base of Newark.  Middletown and neighboring Cecil County are expected to be added later.

Engineering-centered Verizon Wireless is first offering the service, primarily  for road warriors using computers for business and who will jump at access that should be 10 times faster than current 3G wireless service.  Smartphones that tap into the high-speed service will also come later.

So far, there are no signs that 4G service will result in a price war that might result in some small businesses and residences saying good-bye to their wired internet connections. In addition to the fact that wireless does not always make its way into buildings,  carriers are keeping costs above the wire rates charged by Comcast. Clear does offer some rates that might make some inroads, although it must tread lightly since partner  Comcast offers cable Internet.

Verizon Wireless  is also  keeping its rates above those of  the  hard-wired FiOS service and it may not be coincidence that Verizon (which is technically a separate entity from Verizon Wireless) has slowed expansion on FiOS, perhaps realizing that wireless is  another way to more cheaply serve customers in the future.

In the meantime, if you want to see if your home and/or business is part of the new network, log on THIS LINK.

Delaware gets some BRAC relocations

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A report is out on where BRAC transferees are relocating, following the transfer of positions from Ft. Monmouth, N.J. to the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

A full copy of the report is available HERE.

The report from the Chesapeake Science and  Security Corridor shows Harford County, the home of  the Proving Ground getting  six in ten of  the transfers.

In a distant second is Cecil County, with 18.2 percent of the transfers, even though bridge and I-95  tolls raise the cost of commuting to the Proving Ground. Discounts are available that can sharply reduce those tolls.

Bel Air, in Harford County,  is the prime spot for relocations with two of its zip codes accounting for 580 relocations.

Nearly 170 transfers came were in  Elkton zip codes, with a comparable number from the Port Deposit and Perryville areas.

New Castle County is third with  6.7 percent of transferees with Baltimore County at 5.4 percent, a disappointing figure for that area, given its  proximity to Aberdeen.

As for Delaware, transferees are choosing   the Bear-Glasgow area with the 19701 and 19702 zip codes accounting for nearly 80 relocations. The Newark zip code of 19711 gained 35 residents and Middletown (19709)  accounting for 35.  Real estate agents in Cecil and New Castle counties are hoping some of the prime residential areas are taken in Harford to help  their sluggish markets  get  a boost.

It is worth noting that the current figures are based on about 2,700 relocations, with more than 350 personnel not accounted for in the figures  provided by the U.S. Army. More than 8,000 jobs are coming directly to the Proving Ground, with thousands more in and around the base. Delaware is hoping that some of those jobs and companies might come in this direction. One drawing card comes with the  the increasingly strong ties between the  University of Delaware. and the Proving Ground. – Doug Rainey,

The end game for Wilmington Trust

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Local coverage  of the fall of Wilmington Trust has been meager since the announcement that Buffalo’s M&T would acquire the ailing financial services company.

As filings come out on the acquisition, we are beginning to get bits and pieces of information about what might have led to the company’s downfall. Wilmington Trust was acquired in what is known as a “take-under,” and not a takeover, with M&T taking on a troubled  loan portfolio in return for paying a  fire sale price

The Wall Street Journal published a piece recently  that portrayed a bank that may have been too loyal to its customers, especially those  south of the C&D Canal .  The company has admitted that its loan problems are concentrated to real estate in  the south,  although its new CEO also says  woes have spread to other categories.

The Journal operates behind a pay wall for much of its content.  However,  as of Monday, you could reach the article via Google News. It is worth a look.

Also writing an interesting story, with more of an M&T angle was Jonathan Epstein of the Buffalo News. Epstein is a former News Journal business reporter.  Here’s a LINK to that story. Epstein’s story shows a company  in deep trouble with few options other than selling out.

In the meantime,  a flurry of lawsuits have been filed, a common occurrence when companies sell at rock-bottom prices. The fact that no other bidder has emerged for Wilmington Trust indicates that the problems are every bit as serious as portrayed by management.

It adds up to a tragedy for Delaware. At the same time, we can take some comfort in the fact that M&T, despite being based in Buffalo, is active in the communities where it operates. We only need to look at Baltimore to see the level of involvement. – Doug Rainey

Viewpoint: Markell op-ed piece tackles the 'G' word

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Delaware Gov. Jack Markell  had a thoughtful op-ed piece in the Washington Post on Friday.

It dealt head on with one of the myths that has emerged from the recent discussion over the economy. The line of thinking is that if the government simply got out of the way of business, all would be fine.  This has been accompanied by a case of amnesia that seems to downplay the financial  crisis the nation was facing a short time ago. We only have to take a look at the debt crisis in Ireland to realize the high price of not taking action as well as some of the risks ahead.

Drawing on his experience in the corporate world and is recent visit to Taiwan, Markell makes the point that government and business work together best as partners and  not adversaries.

It’s an argument we don’t hear often from Democrats, who have instead focused on regulation and anti-business rhetoric to stir up the base.  It isn’t any better on the other side of the aisle, where there seems to be the view that  if taxes were simply cut all would be well.

The challenge is to create the right kind of tax, regulatory and financial environment that will allow fast-growing businesses to add jobs. Options have dwindled, thanks to the deficit, the mortgage crisis and many other problems.

In his piece, Markell asks the right questions and one can hope that cooler heads can prevail in a rational discussion of where we can go from here. – Doug Rainey

The Moose lives on

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The talking moose lives – at least in Christiana. CB Holding Corp.,  the  New Jersey-based owner of the  Bugaboo Creek Steak House in Christiana Delaware and the  moose that’s a hit with kids,    announced that the company and all of its subsidiaries have filed  for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in Wilmington.

Delaware has become a center for bankruptcy filings by mid-sized  restaurant chains and business has been good.

New Jersey-based  CB,   closed 47 restaurants,  a common  practice when a company goes into Chapter 11.

CB said it plans to sell of its 39  remaining restaurants, which mainly consist of Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse and Bugaboo Creek.

The company blamed the economy for its problems, but the fickle nature of diners also played a part.  Bugaboo, at least when it comes to its Christiana restaurant, is solidly managed and has a decent menu. But a short distance away, Firebirds, with its more stylish  Colorado ski theme,  draws crowds who pay somewhat  higher prices. As or Charlie Brown’s, it may have been caught in a time warp with its salad bar.

All 39 of the company’s  surviving restaurants are open for business as usual. All group and individual reservations and, subject to Bankruptcy Court approval, gift card redemptions at these locations are being honored as usual.
The  company’s legal advisors are Cahill Gordon and Reindel LLP and Wilmington-based  Richards Layton & Finger P.A. of  Wilmington

Dollar Tree, Food Lion opening stores

Dollar Tree,  Inc. is adding another store in Pencader Plaza, just south of Newark, Delaware, along Route 72.  Opening is slated for January.
Pencader Plaza, one of those shopping centers that struggled a time, took on new life a few years ago  when BJ’s Wholesale Club opened a store in the former location of the long-defunct Caldor. BJ’s rolled through the recession as shoppers stuck with chain’s emphasis on discount prices and large quantities.
Joining Dollar Tree at the site is Food Lion, the North Carolina-based grocery chain that operates smaller stores. The  typically non-union stores aim to get shoppers out the door more quickly than their bigger counterparts.
The 12,245 square-foot store Dollar tree, typically  employs 10 – 12 associates., according to a company release.
Dollar Tree operates  with two different formats.  While the Pencader location  keeps prices under $1, up the road in Newark Shopping Center, the company offers  Dollar Tree Deals, a store with prices that typically stay under $5.
Dollar Tree has 4,000 stores in 48 states.and employs more than 50,000. Dollar  Tree trades publicly on the NASDAQ Global Select Market.

iBio completes private placement

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A promising bio-technology company, based in Newark, has completed a  nearly $8 million private placement of  stock.

iBio, Inc.  disclosed that the private placement  was fully subscribed to the maximum limit of the  terms. Stock in the company trades in the over-the-counter market. You can find the stock on our home pages at IBPM.OB

Each share of its common stock was sold at a price of $2 per share, and each investor was issued a warrant representing the right to purchase the same number of shares purchased at a cash exercise price of $2.20 per share for a period of five years.  Net proceeds to the company are  approximately $7.4 million.

iBio, Inc.  is a commercializing its  iBioLaunch  technology platform for the production of proteins, using  plant-derived proteins.  Applications include vaccines for infectious diseases.

Advantages, according to the company,  are significantly lower capital and process costs, and the technology is ideally suited to infectious disease applications.

iBio owns the intellectual property/technology developed at the not-for-profit Newark-based Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology. It is refining   mass production of its system, including the use of robotics to quickly grow and tend to plants.

The company earlier struck a deal with  GE Healthcare, the UK-based business of the industrial giant,  aimed at helping the technology move more quickly into world markets.

Dogfish Head Brewery now on national TV

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Sam Calgione can do it all. The Dogfish Head Brewery founder may be one of the best speakers you could find for your business event. With  the help of his wife and crew has built one of America’s best-known craft breweries from  Milton and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

But Sam and crew have been  doing a bit of traveling.  Tonight at 10 p.m. , Brew Masters debuts on the Discovery Channel.  The show, from Zero Point Zero productions  takes a page from the Zero Point Zero’s  successful TV series, No Reservations, which also travels the globe and is moving towards its 100th episode.  That series has a compelling personality in Anthony Bourdain, a tough-talking chef and gifted  author, who takes viewers on unusual culinary and cultural journeys.

Clearly, Discovery and  production Zero Point Zero see such potential with  Calgione,  who has managed to strike up a business deal in New York City with celebrity chef Mario Batali and long before the Discovery gig managed to come up with a brew believed  consumed by ancient Egypt’s elite. It did not hurt that Dogfish Head also has a few ale houses near  Discovery’s  Washington, D.C. area headquarters. That sort of guerilla marketing amounts  to millions of dollars in marketing exposure  for Dogfish Head, which does not have the funds to go head to head with brewing industry giants.  Should this series pan out, there will be another nine-figure boost.

But while Bourdain’s show has been a niche player in cable, Brew Masters will take a choice spot on Discovery, one of the big guns in the industry that also operates Animal Planet and the Learning Channel.

For Philadelphia Eagles and Giants fans, who don’t mind springing for a Dogfish Head every once in a while, it will be time to set up the DVR recorder. Brew Master’s first episode is at 10 p.m. , right in the middle of the Sunday night game between the two clubs. Then again, we are talking about cable and there will probably be plenty of rebroadcasts. – Doug Rainey

Chris Christie disses the River and Bay Authority

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New Jersey Gov. and University of Delaware alumnus  Chris Christie has gotten some high marks, based on public opinion polls that show a 45 percent to 50 percent approval rating. That’s quite an accomplishment, given his battles with teachers unions and other organizations.
It seems Christie’s combative style is a hit with business owners and residents  facing sky-high tax rates.
Then again, he may have taken the rhetorical flourishes  too far.
The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA)  took note of a  press release from the  governor’s office entitled, “Governor Chris Christie Applauds Action to Remove E-Z Pass Perks at the Port Authority of NY/NJ.” In the release, he called on others to do the same.  “It’s time for the authorities that have not yet acted on my directive, the Delaware River and Bay Authority and the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission to end these abusive practices as well…”
The problem is the DRBA has never handed out E-Z Pass perks to employees or retirees.
There’s an explanation for this.  Several years ago, former Director Mike Harkins was living the good life as the Executive Director of the DRBA.
Despite a nearly $2oo,000 a year salary, Harkins, a  former Delaware Secretary of State and GOP stalwart,  was accused of spending authority funds to charter trips to sporting events down south and other offenses. He ended up doing 14 months in prison.
Since that time, the authority has, by all accounts, kept to the straight and narrow, although some legacies from the past, such as a luxurious headquarters, remain.
“It’s very difficult to eliminate a benefit that doesn’t exist,” remarked James N. Hogan, Chairman of the DRBA Commission. “In the future, I would respectfully request that the Governor direct his staff to do proper due-diligence to insure that such inaccuracies don’t occur again and that the DRBA be evaluated on its own merits.”
This  faux pas won’t put a dent in the governor’s popularity, but does suggest the former federal  prosecutor should use some of his blistering rhetoric on staffers researching and  writing those press releases.

Delaware’s jobless rate stuck at 8.3%

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Mature woman at home seeking for jobs in the n...

Figures from the Delaware Department of Labor showed Delaware’s unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent in October. That was  unchanged from September and down only slightly from the 8.5 percent a year ago in October.

The nation’s unemployment rate 9.6 percent, unchanged from September, but below the 10.1 percent posted in October of last year.

Due to lower employment in retailing,  leisure and hospitality and other areas,  total employment was down about 3,000  from September.  Over the past year, total employment has grown by about 1,800 jobs.

One closely watched area, professional and business services, saw a loss of 600 jobs between September and October and a decline of 700 jobs in the October to October period.  Employment growth in the category often signals the beginning of an economic recovery, since the sector includes temporary workers.

Education and health remained the strongest area, with a gain of 2,400 jobs in the past year in Delaware.

Among cities and counties in the state, Newark had the lowest jobless rate at 7.3 percent, up from 7 percent in September and 7.2 percent in October 2009.

VIEWPOINT: Wilmington movie theater – Don't let the grumpy guys drag it down

Image courtesy of Penn Cinema and JKR partners, architects.


If this website suddenly became  DelawareOnline,  I would not have any trouble imagining the comments that would follow when I offered the opinion that a multiplex movie theater on the Wilmington Riverfront is a great idea. Here’s a story, minus  some of the political intrigue from LancasterOnline. The connection here is that the owner of the proposed theater complex was successful in a project in an area near Lancaster.

Those offering their views typically mention  crime, with vague and not so vague references to race. Wilmington Mayor James Baker would call them idiots. I would simply say they are misinformed.  Had too many  people listened to these naysayers we would have never seen the hundreds of millions of dollars in development in the area. Looking back  at the early days of the Riverfront effort, skeptics simply lacked the “vision thing” that is the key to waterfront development.

The fact of the matter is that a riverfront movie theater will face a tough test from lenders and in somehow hammering out a deal with the Delaware Department of Transportation, the listed  owner of the parcel. As one can imagine the department is a little gun shy these days after stories of its  sweetheart lease with the beer distributorship in Milford.

Should Penn Cinemas pass those tests, the potential for a successful  multiplex with IMAX  in that area is vast. Due to factors that range from the closing of the small cinema complex at Christiana Mall to the relative lack of theaters within a 10-mile radius and it is no wonder that the Penn Cinemas folks are enthused.

Combine that with dining and entertainment and you have a nice formula. As for the crime, when was the last time you read about anything happening near the Riverfront? Yes, there can be problems around movie theaters, but the same is true with suburban malls and other areas that the public believes to be safer. We also need to understand that many of the grumpy folks who offer their views are older (like me) and would not be making many trips to the multiplex, at least until their friends have a good experience.

With that said, the project faces an uphill battle in a tough economy. But we do know that theaters, restaurants and other types of entertainment have fared well during the downturn and if the numbers and studies look good, the Riverfront could get a major boost. – Doug Rainey

Calpine chooses Delaware for regional office

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Photo by Mark Corrigan

Electricity producer Calpine has opened a new regional headquarters at  500 Delaware Ave. in Wilmington, after the company’s $1.63 billion acquisition of Conectiv Energy from Pepco Holdings in July.

The announcement came  during an event at the company’s power plant in Edgemoor that was acquired from Conectiv.  Calpine will make use natural gas as the primary fuel source at the plant, previously fueled by coal. Calpine also announced it  will pursue development of new gas‐fired generating  capacity on the existing Edgemoor  site.
“This is a win for Delaware’s economy and environment. Calpine had choices about where to put their headquarters and they chose Delaware. In making their decision about the power they would provide, they’ve chosen to move to cleaner choices,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. “We put so much of our energy into keeping existing and growing new jobs and it’s great to see that Calpine will be putting their energy here as well.”
“Calpine, the country’s largest independent power producer, selected Wilmington as the hub for our North Region operations, which covers 10 regional states, because we share Gov.  Markell’s and Delaware’s focus on promoting excellence, protecting the environment and creating business and employment opportunities,” said Calpine President and CEO  Jack Fusco. “Calpine is
excited to become a part of the Wilmington and Delaware community. We are an action‐oriented company that believes in helping to create a sustainable future for the communities in which we do business. Here in Delaware this is best illustrated by our decision to operate our Edge Moor plant, as well as the Deepwater plant across the river in New Jersey, on natural gas rather than coal, helping
achieve a cleaner energy future for the local communities and beyond, while providing reliable, cost-effective
power. Finally, we are preparing to add new state‐of‐the‐art, natural gas‐fired generation at the Edge Moor site to help meet future demand for reliable and environmentally responsible power in the region.”
The acquisition represented an additional 4,500 megawatts to Calpine’s existing  capacity with about half (1,949 mw) of the new portfolio in Delaware. Calpine is now the largest generator in the state, employing 25 corporate‐level employees and 112 plant operations people at five energy centers in Delaware.
“Calpine could have relocated its regional headquarters anywhere in the region, but they recognized the value of our uniquely friendly business environment, strategic location and talented workforce,” said Delaware Economic Development Office Secretary Alan Levin. “We’re proud to welcome the company to Delaware and look forward to its future growth.”
In addition, Calpine agreed  to stop any and all use of coal at its Edge Moor plant in Wilmington and at its Deepwater plant in Pennsville, NJ. Burning natural gas eliminates mercury emissions and associated landfill materials – fly ash and bottom ash‐ and will greatly reduce sulfur dioxide and smoke stack particulate emissions. The nitrogen oxides that can lead to ozone formation and carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, will also be reduced.
alpine is planning to build a new generating plant on the Edge Moor site if it is successful in bidding the proposed project into the regional auction for new electric generating capacity administered by PJM Interconnection LLC. The new facility could be in commercial operation as soon as the summer of 2014.
Also, as part of  the event, the Calpine Corporate Foundation contributed $25,000 to the Delaware Nature Society to supports its educational efforts.
For more information on how to apply for a job with Calpine, visit www.calpine.com/careers.
Founded in 1984, Calpine Corporation is a major U.S. power company, now capable of delivering nearly 29,000 megawatts  from its 93 operating plants to customers and communities in 21 U.S. states and  Calpine owns, leases and operates low‐carbon, natural gas‐fired and renewable geothermal power plants.

WHYY rolls out NewsWorks

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NewsWorks.org has gone live at WHYY, the public radio and TV station in Philadelphia.

According to a press release, 18   contributors covering news and encouraging dialogue from southeastern Pennsylvania to south Jersey and all of Delaware. It  states  the site will cover  regional issues such as business and education, government and politics, health and science and arts and culture.  It will focus on neighborhood news in Northwest Philadelphia in an experimental pilot project for public media that will offer “hyperlocal content” from neighborhoods that usually does not make its way into mainstream sites.

“NewsWorks.org is a major expansion of WHYY’s news and information service that builds on the trusted reporting and in-depth discussions of regional news we now offer,” said Bill Marrazzo, WHYY president and CEO. “As consumers increasingly turn to the web for news, we are pleased to develop NewsWorks.org with a set of features unique to public media that will be a driver for WHYY’s growth as a media outlet. WHYY’s radio audience among listeners in the 25–34 age demographic has increased markedly in recent years, and this is an audience with a strong appetite for online news.”

WHYY said it would focus on the web,  after dropping the Delaware Tonight television newscast and substituted with First, a weekly news show.  Former staffers have set up a Newark-based start-up organization, DelawareFirst (DFN)  that’s focusing on public issues in the First State via the web. DFN also sponsored Senate and House debates.

NewsWorks.org  features blogs  with a distinctive Philadelphia flavor from   Dave Davies, Dick Polman, Chris Satullo and Jo Ann Allen. With the exception of Allen, all are former columnists with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. NewsWorks.org also offers  “The Feed,” an interactive news blog continuously updated by WHYY news staff that welcomes content from the public, and “Sixth Square,” a moderated discussion forum where visitors can seek answers to local mysteries (“Sleuth”) and even attempt to sum up the news or trends in six or fewer words (“Sixes”). On “Sixth Square,” visitors can discuss topics in ” civil, knowledgeable posts” (“Junto”) and share kind words about people who have done good deeds (“Props”).

Other offerings listed  include the handy “Civic Atlas,” an interactive mapping tool designed to help visitors plan trips to more than 10,000 regional civic assets such as day cares and schools. The playful “Stuff We Like” presents a listing of what’s interesting on the Web.

A highlight of NewsWorks.org is that it engages its audience, inviting the community to offer viewpoints, story tips, photos and videos, said Chris Satullo, WHYY executive director of News and Civic Dialogue and former columnist and editor of the editorial page at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Registered users earn points for almost every action they complete on the site from reading, rating and commenting on stories to submitting content. Each completed action earns users Ben Bucks, and as they earn more Ben Bucks, they move up Ben’s Ladder, whose rungs are named after the stages of Ben Franklin’s life. At each progressive rung, users gain more opportunities to take roles leading participatory areas on NewsWorks.org.

Some northwest Philadelphia residents will  get in on the participatory act on NewsWorks.org even more — they get “on stage” as official community correspondents, filing photos and a rundown on news and events in each of the neighborhoods. Their contributions are overseen by WHYY community editors Patrick Cobbs, Megan Pinto and Alan Tu. The “hyperlocal” focus on Northwest Philadelphia is funded by a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to test the feasibility of building a national model for public media providers.

Viewpoint – The tall tale about W.L. Gore

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As New Castle County Executive Chris Coons gets ready for that daily commute to Washington, D.C.,  traces of one of the more unfortunate sideshows from the Senate campaign continue to pop up on the blogosphere.

The canard  from the campaign of  Christine O’Donnell and her enthusiastic out-of-state Twitter robo bloggers   went something like this: Coons is a member of the Gore family and their company will profit handsomely from cap-and-trade legislation that will cost each American family thousands of dollars. One commercial featured a picture of a speedboat. They also threw in the fact that  Gore actually operated overseas and might be exporting  jobs.

Cap and trade is essentially a way to cut pollution via  credits that  traded among companies.  It  has become a huge issue with many in the tea party movement, particularly those who don’t buy into global warming. There are legitimate concerns about the legislation, given the fragile state of the economy, but the level of misinformation is breathtaking. Coons, by the way, is the stepson of one of  Gore family members and worked as a lawyer for the company. That sent the opposition  to work looking for evil connections between Gore and hot button issues, especially since Coons was not afraid to tout his stint at Gore as evidence of his free market credentials.

What Gore, DuPont and many  other companies are doing is looking for ways to profit from the swing toward alternative energy  sources. While DuPont thinks big,  as it pushes for a breakthrough in alternative fuels, Gore is working to use its knowledge base to offer some of the building blocks for those breakthroughs. By the way, this effort will go on, regardless of the political  climate   in the United States. Other nations, including China, will continue to push for alternative fuels and energy sources and a company that does not attempt to tap those opportunities could find itself irrelevant a decade for now.

Could Gore come up with a discovery that would produce billions of dollars in revenue?  Never say never, but it is highly unlikely. The company looks for technologies that meet specialized needs and operates with a team-based system that is highly efficient at bringing  products to market, but does not bet the ranch on any one area.  It results in a steady stream of innovative technologies that range from guitar strings to medical implants that can patch up a hernia or a blood vessel.

Gore also  is committed to manufacturing its own products, with one of  its biggest manufacturing and R&D  clusters in Cecil County, Md., New Castle County, DE and Chester County, Pa.

All of this may seem like nitpicking, but illustrates  the noise we saw coming out of the past campaign.  For the sake of swinging a few votes either way, a lot of economic  misinformation was knowingly put on the airwaves.  This came from both ends of the political spectrum and even the middle, if the candidate got desperate.

Long after the election that misinformation is likely to persist, especially as bloggers continue to repeat the same tall tales.

As for W.L. Gore, it won’t hurt that a family member is in the U.S. Senate. But the real benefit may be that the exclusive club on Capitol Hill now has  someone who knows the link between research and development, product development and manufacturing and how that  formula works  in a complex global economy.

San Diego firm to manage Wilmington high rise facing foreclosure

A San Diego-based firm is getting the go-ahead to manage the Citizens Bank Center, a 500,000-square-foot office building on 919 North Market Street in Wilmington. The building was one of 11 now managed by Trigild, a distressed real estate and loan recovery specialist.

As the court appointed receiver, Trigild is charged with operating and repositioning the properties, all currently facing foreclosure. The Citizens Bank building is not owned by the bank, which is the lead tenant in the building on the north end of Market Street mall.

Pete Davisson, who heads the Wilmington office of Jackson Cross, said that the Citizens Bank Center is the only office building in downtown Wilmington that has gone back to the lender. Davisson said leasing activity overall has remained weak.  He added that the 80 percent figure is not particularly low, especially in the current economic environment.

The properties that were also part of the Trigild announcement are in  New Orleans, La.; San Diego, El Monte, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Irvine, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Glen Burnie, Md.

Trigild now represents more than $6 billion in defaulted loans, and anticipates a significant increase in its receivership business within the next few months.

Headquartered in San Diego and with regional offices throughout the country, Trigild has more than 30 years of expertise in managing a wide array of distressed commercial real estate assets and operating businesses. Specializing in non-performing commercial loans, Trigild combines receivership, operations management, and disposition services under one roof . For further information, visit www.trigild.com.

BRIO brings upscale touch to Christiana Mall

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On Wednesday the last of the restaurants in a new improved Christiana Mall opened . BRIO Tuscan Grille is part of a mid-sized Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant group. As the name indicates. BRIO offers Italian fare with a Tuscan flavor and cooking style, according to press materials.

BRIO faces a tough job in carving out a niche as an  upscale restaurant at the mall. It will get an elegant neighbor next the Nordstrom store and its famous grand piano opens a short distance away.
It’s early, but BRIO seems to be up to the task, based on the a training meal over the weekend.
BRIO spent some serious money on an elegant decor. It is a white tablecloth restaurant that might seem a little out-of-place at the mall.
But once seated, you forget where you are as you are greeted by staff wearing a crisp shirt and tie uniform.
The food lived up to the upscale decor. The crab cake and steak are well worth the $20-plus price and attention was paid to the vegetables that accompanied the dishes. That’s often an afterthought at chain and even chef owned establishments, but not here.
As for the Tuscan dishes, sampling them will require another visit. One nice touch is smaller desserts, a perfect touch after a big meal.
The true test of BRIO will come when the hordes of shoppers descend on the mall and look for a place to dine.
The out-of-town staff that helped train the Christiana crew will be gone and the staff will have to make sure that the food lives up to prices that on the upper end of the mid-priced category.
If the chefs can focus on the details, like that vegetable medley, BRIO will do just fine.

Do we need another blog?

1

The call came on Friday morning and the guy on the other end told me the WILM morning drive show was going in another direction and my report was no longer need. Following a perfunctory thank you and a moment of silence on the other end of the phone, I realized that a small part of my day had vanished.

Over the past several years, I had spent some time in the afternoon coming up with a story that would be of interest to those making that morning commute. Over the years, it led to a loyal audience. I was always surprised when someone would tell me they listened to the broadcast every weekday morning and most of the time, the story was worthwhile.
But as the cliché goes, every time a door closes, another opens. In letting some of my Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts know that the report was going away Brian Selander suggested blogging the story.
Selander is an adviser to Gov. Jack Markell and deserves credit for helping Delaware government become part of the burgeoning social media movement in Delaware that embraces blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other tools to enhance communications and build business.
Armed with that suggestion, I took that extra hour I was given on Sunday to set up a website and get down to blogging.
I can’t promise I will be able to keep up the five-story-a-week pace of the WILM report, but I will do my darndest to provide some insights at a time when the number of business journalists in the state is at its lowest number in perhaps 30 years.
For those who have found this website, feel free to pass the URL along to your friends, as well as the news website that I also handle, mydailybiz.com

German discount grocer Lidl is reportedly looking at other options for its U.S. rollout.

The company opened its first Delaware store earlier this year in Middletown and reportedly has locations in the works in the Brookside area near Newark and Dover.

Lidl  is constructing a distribution center about a half an hour from the Delaware line in Perryville, MD.

However, there  are some  signs of a slowdown in storedevelopment havee occurred after an aggressive rollout of nearly 50 stores this year.

Industry publication Supermarket News reported the company is adjusting its real estate strategy and is looking at a smaller store footprint in some locations after reports that response to new locations was not as great as anticipated.

Lidl had originally targeted “greenfield” sites for free-standing stores, but may now be looking at less square footage, perhaps in more built-up areas. 

The smaller footprint might also make sense in northern Delaware, which has fewer greenfield options and higher land prices.

A Lidl spokesman, according to the Supermarket News,  denied that the company was slowing down its store rollout plans.

Meanwhile, the  Roanoke Times reported site preparation had stopped at some locations in southwest Virginia.

Lidl is a rival to Aldi, a German grocer with a similar strategy of deep discounts, house brands and limited time offerings that can include home appliances and even shoes. Aldi has not been afraid to go toe-to-toe with Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer, which ranks low lower than many of its rivals in customer satisfaction.

However, Aldi, which has ramped up its expansion, has a nearly four-decade head start on Lidl.

Rivals of Lidl are not backing away either. Food Lion, now part of a Dutch-Belgian chain Ahold-Delhaize, plans to open a store in a former A&P location in northern Newark.

A spokesman for Lidl did not respond to a request for comment on a smaller store format that is listed on the company’s website. The company does not respond to inquiries on individual store sites.

Lidl has its U.S. headquarters in northern Virginia.