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In The News

True Access awarded $657,000 to launch Hispanic business loan program

From Delaware Business Now

True Access Capital, Wilmington (formerly First State Community Loan Fund) will expand its lending to minority-owned businesses, with an emphasis on Hispanic-owned businesses, with the help of a $657,000 award from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund.

The fund is a program of the U.S. Department of the Treasury intended to increase lending in low-income and economically distressed communities.

“Delaware’s Hispanic businesses are rapidly growing in number and in size, and this award from the US Treasury’s CDFI program to True Access Capital will help fuel the continued growth of Hispanic entrepreneurs in Delaware,” U.S. Sen. Chris Coons said of the award. “Where some lenders saw risk, CDFI programs show us there is still ‘Blue Ocean’ in communities that are mistakenly overlooked.”

The CDFI grant will expand True Access Capital’s reach to minority-owned businesses, for whom credit access is a significant hurdle.

“We know our way around this unlevel playing field, and we’ve long helped minority business owners navigate it,” said Vandell Hampton, Jr., True Access Capital CEO. “The demand for business financing and development for Hispanic businesses has exploded in recent years, and we know that Hispanic business owners face the same challenges in accessing capital that African American entrepreneurs face, so this expansion of reach is a natural direction for us.”

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Up to $136 million will support statewide programs addressing COVID-19 impacts

From Delaware State News

NEW CASTLE  – Up to $136 million from the New Castle County’s federal CARES Act allocation will support six state-wide programs targeting unemployment insurance, childcare, coronavirus testing and more, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced this week.

This funding will supplement the $927 million of CARES Act funding the state received directly from the federal government.

Mr. Meyer and the state developed a three-step approach for the funding agreement.

They determined the total cost of all six statewide programs, then determined the percentage of the cost of those six statewide programs for the benefit of county residents and businesses, and finally, determined the cost share between the state and New Castle County.

“We always work collaboratively with our federal, state and municipal governments but particularly in times of crisis,” Mr. Meyer said in a prepared statement. “My thanks to County Council, to the Governor’s office and to Delaware’s Office of Management and Budget to reach this agreement to help keep our community healthy and sustain our economy during this crisis.”

Statewide programs that New Castle County CARES Act funding will support the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, the essential childcare program, statewide testing, statewide contact tracing, an enhanced rent and utility program and a hospitality emergency loan program.

Based on actual unemployment claims through mid-September and estimates through the rest of the year, the total statewide amount of COVID-19 unemployment claims paid for the forty-two-week period, March 15 to Dec. 30, will be $273 million. Approximately 55% of the statewide claims are from residents in New Castle County. A county contribution up to $67.5 million will be made.

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Bayhealth to build $35M ER center, hybrid office near Milton

From Delaware Business Times

MILTON — One year after withdrawing an application for a freestanding emergency department 2 miles east of Harbeson, Bayhealth will be moving forward with opening an emergency room and walk-in care center within the next two years.

The $35 million facility will bring primary care physicians, specialists, diagnostic services and emergency care to southern Delaware on 18 acres near the intersection of Lewes-Georgetown Highway (Route 9) and Hudson Road. Early plans show a building measuring between 30,000 to 40,000 square feet and Bayhealth officials anticipate creating between 50 and 75 jobs. The walk-in center and emergency department approved by the Delaware Health Resources Board is estimated at $10.2 million.

Bayhealth’s Milton facility represents the health care system’s growing reach in southern Delaware and the announcement more than a year after opening a new $315 million facility in Milford. Bayhealth also partnered up with Nemours Children’s Health System on a new facility there, and Nemours will open primary care and senior care in November.

“Sussex County is growing at an exponential rate. The area directly surrounding the location of our new center, along Hudson Road and Route 9, is growing especially fast,” Bayhealth President and CEO Terry Murphy told Delaware Business Times. “There are also very few health care providers located in close proximity to our new site. This new location will provide our southern Delaware community with much-needed health care services all located in one convenient center.”

The land around Route 9 has one of the fastest  growing populations in Delaware, increasing 21% from 35,295 residents in 2010 to 42,729 in 2019, according to a study done by the marketing firm Claritas Company. The 65 and older population is particularly booming, growing nearly 60% in the same span to 10,135 residents. In the next four years, the overall population is projected to grow 8.2%, including an 18% growth in senior residents.

Beebe Healthcare, based in Lewes, has also been striving to meet the surge in people in the last decade. This spring, Beebe opened a freestanding emergency department and a cancer center at the Beebe South Coastal Health Campus near Millville. Construction work is also underway at Beebe’s $124 million surgical hospital on Route 24 near Rehoboth Beach with a target opening in 2022. Recent plans for a Milton campus recently were withdrawn.

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As Delaware’s bioscience sector grows, space is in short supply

From Delaware Business Times

From the earliest scientific advancements made at DuPont more than two centuries ago to the brand-new cancer therapies being developed by Incyte, Delaware has a long history of laboratory-based research and development.

As the competition for those future-billion-dollar companies heats up, however, the First State is often at a disadvantage when it comes to retaining such startups. The state has fostered an environment of innovation, often connected through the University of Delaware, but it is now watching expanding companies seek out-of-state spaces to further their growth due to a lack of resources here.

According to a recent survey of 60 companies that utilize labs by the Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP), the state’s economic development agency, 12 anticipate needing more lab space within the next three years, totaling about 150,000 square feet. Only half of those companies said that they could accommodate that growth currently though, meaning tens of thousands of square feet of lab space need to be developed.

It’s not just about meeting the needs of Delaware’s current companies, however, but also attracting new prospects. DPP officials reported that over the past two and a half years, it has worked with 30 companies that were seeking lab space. It currently has 12 such companies in the pipeline, the majority of which need “graduated” lab space, or facilities containing more advanced features, measuring between 10,000 and 30,000 square feet. If able to be located, they could create upward of 400 well-paying jobs.

The challenge now is to continue to grow the innovative ecosystem for research in Delaware while also investing in new lab development to support their scaled growth. Neighboring competitors Maryland and Pennsylvania, which are home to hundreds of bioscience companies and have decades of financial backing and resources at their disposal, are ready and willing to poach those companies if progress isn’t made.

Bill Provine, president and CEO of the Delaware Innovation Space, a nonprofit incubator and accelerator that is home to 18 companies at the DuPont Experimental Station, agreed that more labs were needed in the state and that government aid may be needed to spur it.

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Policies will allow outdoor dining options in Rehoboth

From Delaware State News

REHOBOTH BEACH — As the weather starts to cool, Rehoboth Beach restaurants will be able to use outdoor space with heaters for dining options.

The Rehoboth commissioners approved a policy regarding the use of outdoor space Tuesday.

Restaurants must have a straight and continuous minimum of 5 feet of sidewalk in front of any outdoor seating that must be maintained at all times. Space allows pedestrians to move up and down the sidewalks without adjusting their path because of the outdoor seating.

The approved policy also requires that outdoor tables be set 8 feet apart from each other. A barrier is needed between the tables and the pedestrian path if a restaurant is serving alcohol. Commissioners also approved tents and canopies without sides to be used in outdoor dining areas.

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University of Delaware employees to take 5% pay cut for remainder of fiscal year

From Delaware Online

University of Delaware’s non-union employees will all take a 5% pay cut for the remainder of the fiscal year, the latest in a string of efforts to shore up the school’s projected $250 million financial deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pay cut will come in the form of nine furloughed days: three days before Thanksgiving, three before Christmas, and three at employees’ discretion.

The salary reduction will be evenly spread through paychecks, starting Nov. 1 until the end of June 2021.

Two weeks ago, the university announced that it was facing a budget deficit of about $250 million, as significant revenue loss and increased expenses from the pandemic strained finances.

At the time, employees were offered a voluntary retirement option. Since then, 138 employees have expressed interest in early retirement, and will receive final approval tomorrow.

Over the summer, senior administrators at the university took a 10% pay cut. Thursday’s cut will be in addition to that.

Some units may face a salary reduction greater than 5%, the university said in a message to faculty and staff on Thursday. Future workforce reductions, restructuring and other cost-saving measures could be announced down the line.

The pay cut does not apply to student employees, postdoctoral fellows or anyone on an H-1B visa. The university continues to negotiate with faculty and other unions.

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Medical facility takes shape: Commercial development booming along Del. 1 in Milford

From Delaware State News

MILFORD — There’s a lot of commercial development happening in Milford, and that growth may be clearest to those passing by the town’s Silicato Parkway exit off Del. 1.

That’s where Silicato Development is nearing completion on a medical building near Grotto Pizza and Royal Farms.

“It’s projected that the building will be completed at the end of 2020, so we will be starting a few of the tenant build-outs soon,” said Nicole Silicato Miller, the vice president of Silicato Development.

She hopes the facility will bring 50 to 60 new jobs to the area and said the building is already 25% leased out.

“I’m not releasing the tenant names yet, but we do have local family practitioners who are leasing in the building, and a boutique pharmacy … about to sign a lease, which is something I really wanted to do on the first floor,” Ms. Silicato Miller said.

A Dolce café will be located in the lobby, supplementing its main location in downtown Milford.

“I wanted to have a boutique pharmacy with the coffee shop so you can do that one-stop shopping in the building,” Ms. Silicato Miller said. “You can go to your family practice, you can go to pharmacy and you can grab a sandwich, and it’ll be a nice, pleasant experience.”

She thought a local coffee shop with a good reputation in the community would suit her vision best.

“I reached out to Stephenie and Dean Tatman,” Dolce’s owners, Ms. Silicato Miller said, “and they were extremely interested. They signed an intent to be in the building a year and a half ago, before the plans were even done.”

Ms. Tatman hopes the new location will attract beach traffic.

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Will Delaware’s certificate of need law fall in 2021?

From Delaware Business Times

DOVER – Opinions about Delaware’s requirements for certificates of need (CONs) for large medical expenses vary so much that at first glance some stakeholders don’t seem to be talking about the same issue.

Dr. Chris Casscells, policy director for the Caesar Rodney Institute, calls it “a blunt-force instrument that has been brutal to the price of health care in Delaware” and therefore should be eliminated.

“It never did its intended goal,” he said of the law.

Casscells wants the marketplace to judge, and noted that in the late 1990s, when the system was temporarily unfunded, multiple freestanding surgery centers were created.

Wayne A. Smith, CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association (DHA), which represents hospitals and allied organizations, supports the intent of the regulatory process, but recommends operational changes involving quorums and staff experts.

And state Rep. Lyndon Yearick, a Kent County Republican, has changed his mind over the last five months to embrace the free market.

“If there’s a health care institution that’s willing to risk their capital and assets, I don’t know of any reasons why there should be any restrictions,” he said.

Certificates of need were put into the spotlight in 2019, when Bayhealth and Beebe Healthcare proposed emergency departments on U.S. Route 9 in Sussex County, within 10 miles of each other. The Delaware Health Resources Board, which hears applications for the projects and rules on their permissibility, denied Beebe’s application, while Bayhealth withdrew its application before a vote.

Delaware passed a CON law in 1978, following a 1975 federal mandate that such laws would improve the delivery of health care. The federal law was “based on the economic assumption that excess health care capacity directly results in health care price inflation,” a 240-page report by legislative analysts for the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee concludes.“States established CON programs to restrain health care costs and allow for coordinated planning of new services and construction based on a genuine community need,” the report continues. “CON programs also emphasized the importance of distributing health care services to disadvantaged populations or geographic areas that may be ignored by new and existing facilities.”

A later federal review found the law didn’t generate the desired outputs, so the U.S. government backed off in 1987, and a dozen-plus states have since dropped their CON laws.

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U.S. Corrugated plans $80M Dover plant

From Delaware Business Times

DOVER — U.S. Corrugated plans to build an approximately $80 million corrugated cardboard box manufacturing plant near Dover while relocating its longstanding New Jersey operations to the First State.

With aims to break ground in November, the 497,000-square-foot “super plant” will be located on a 40-acre parcel between Camden and Dover, bordered by Route 15 and the POW/MIA Parkway. U.S. Corrugated founder and chairman of the board Dennis Mehiel envisions a facility featuring the latest in industry-leading technology.

It’s estimated that once U.S. Corrugated of Delaware is operational, it should bring around 150 jobs to the Dover area. Mehiel said that U.S. Corrugated will close its 35-year-old, full-line box plant in Newark, N.J., and plans to transfer operations to the new Dover plant by the end of 2021. Preliminary plans show the site at roughly 110 loading docks and potential to expand the building footprint somewhere down the line.

“We’ve had tremendous upgrades since we opened our New Jersey facility, and it’s been upgrading in leaps and bounds in the last 20 to 25 years,” Mehiel told the Delaware Business Times. “There’s substantial opportunity to grow in Dover to meet significant demands we will face in the next two to three years.”

Once the Dover manufacturing plant is fully operational, it would have the capacity to produce approximately 250% more boxes than the Newark facility and bring in $120 million in additional revenue per year, he said.

The project still has to clear the permitting process with state, county and city entities in the near future. Delaware Prosperity Partnership President and CEO Kurt Foreman noted that his office collaborates closely with Delaware and  Dover officials as well as the Kent Economic Partnership to help bring industrial and manufacturing operations to Central Delaware, and he is pleased to continue moving forward to potentially bring another company to the state’s capital. The DPP and its partners have been actively working with U.S. Corrugated of Delaware team since early 2020.

“We are excited to see the progress being made toward a possible facility in Dover, but several key steps remain to complete. DPP looks forward to sharing and celebrating the good news once everything is completed,” Foreman told DBT.

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State Labor Department announces extension of jobless benefits

From Delaware Business Now

The Delaware Department of Labor announced the extension of unemployment benefits, triggered by Delaware’s high jobless rate.
Delaware’s three-month averaged, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate as of August 2020, is 10.6 percent.
Delaware has ranked at or near the top 15 among the 50 states in its jobless rate since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in March.
Primarily federally funded, the “High Extended Benefits” program kicks in when the state’s unemployment rate averages eight percent or higher for three consecutive months. It offers claimants an additional seven weeks of extended benefits for a total of 20 weeks.
It also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for another seven weeks, offering a total of 46 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to eligible Delawareans.
State Labor Secretary Cerron Cade said, “This expansion of benefits will provide much needed assistance for Delawareans whose eligibility for Extended Benefits was due to expire at the end of September. With the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the short period during which the FEMA Lost Wage Assistance program is active, this provides seven additional weeks of the safety net for the long-term unemployed. This extension of benefits will help workers for as long as the state remains above the three-month average threshold.”

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