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What’s New

Wilmington joins national program aimed at accelerating growth of young businesses

From Delaware Business Now

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and City Council President Hanifa Shabazz announced a partnership with the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation, and Wilmington Alliance to participate in the National League of Cities (NLC) City Innovation Ecosystems program.

The City Innovation Ecosystems program asks city leaders to commit one year to creating policies, programs, and practices to ensure their communities can thrive in the global economy. I

In the program’s inaugural year, 50 cities ranging from rural townships, to college towns, to major metros and linked with over 200 local partners to deploy over $100 million in regional and national resources to support young business, leverage technology, and expand STEM education for everyone.

Entrepreneurs come from every background and are growing businesses in every industry. While they all have the potential to succeed, many do not have access to the resources or support they need, a release stated.

Wilmington Alliance and the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation will lead the project through the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Wilmington (E3, Wilmington). E3 Wilmington’s mission is to build a citywide strategic coalition of partners designed to identify, vet, incubate and accelerate the launch of new businesses, with targeted focus on Black and Brown entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs will receive a comprehensive needs assessment and will receive a customized acceleration plan with coaching and guidance in business planning, marketing, and promotion, technology infrastructure as well as optimizing space planning (virtual offices, co-working space, or dedicated offices). Finally, when appropriate, the E3 ecosystem partners will help increase access to funding opportunities.

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Milford signs incentive deal for Wellness Village

From Delaware Business Times

MILFORD — With the long game in sight, the Milford City Council approved a short-term economic incentive deal with Nationwide Healthcare Services for its $30 million Milford Wellness Village and its anticipated 150 to 200 jobs.

The Milford Wellness Village aims to bring an array of health care, social services, physical therapy and childcare services within a campus setting to the former Milford Memorial Hospital. At the heart of it all is Polaris Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center, a 150-bed skilled nursing facility, which started accepting patients this year.

“The repurposing of this property has been a partnership with the city of Milford since inception and we are very encouraged by the city’s support. We look forward to welcoming many more businesses and partners to the Milford Wellness Village,” Nationwide Healthcare Services CEO Meir Gelley told Delaware Business Times.

Under the deal, the city entered into an electric agreement for set rates for the next five years as well as waiving water and sewer impact fees if renovation work is complete within three years. But if the COVID-19 pandemic delays that work, Milford officials could offer an extension.

In addition, Milford signed off on a 10-year real estate tax abatement. In exchange, Nationwide will withdraw its appeal on the assessed 2019 tax value of the property.

For the first two years, Nationwide will receive a tax break on the assessed value of the hospital building and not on any other ancillary properties included in the sale from Bayhealth to Nationwide last year. After the second year, the abatement rate will gradually drop each year based on the square feet of space occupied in the 266,000-square-foot facility by the previous year.

For example, if 100,000 square feet of the Milford Wellness Village is used by the end of the second year then the tax abatement would be 62.4% in the third year.

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A Better Delaware celebrates one year

A Better Delaware celebrates one year today!

A weakened economy, poor business climate, high tax rates, and questionable practices in state governance all lead to the decision to form an issue advocacy organization that would work for Delaware taxpayers and businesses. One year ago today, A Better Delaware was finally launched to the public to tackle these issues.

“Delaware needed to tackle these issues and since lawmakers and leadership in the state weren’t making the effort, Chris Kenny and Ben duPont did. Thanks to them, every day I get to wake up and work to make my home state a better place.” — Zoe Callaway, Executive Director

When we launched on September 17, 2019, we were ready to fight for you. The response we received after launch let us know that Delaware was ready too, and thankful for our presence and advocacy. You let us know that you too are tired of the over taxation and regulation, the back room deals in Dover, and being left behind by your elected officials.

Facebook recommendations and messages, emails, phone calls, and more started to come in that thanked us for what we were doing and encouraged us to keep on, so we did. We ramped it up with a weekly blog, A Better Discussion webinars, and professional videos addressing key issues in the state. Our public advocacy campaigns, where constituents had an outlet to speak out against bad legislation directly with their legislators, resulted in hundreds of emails sent during the 2020 Legislative Session.

“The Delaware Small Business Chamber is not a political chamber but we advocate for issues that affect the Small Business Community and we think A Better Delaware is helping to make Delaware a more small business friendly state. Congratulations on one year.” — Bob Older, Founder and President of the Delaware Small Business Chamber

That wasn’t enough for us. We came to fight for you, and that meant helping keep Dover business and taxpayer friendly. Last month, ABD formed a PAC to begin electioneering in order to expand our cause.

A Better Delaware has done a lot to advocate for you, but we could not have done it without you. Your support and willingness to share ABD and our message has really resonated and has allowed us to do everything that we have so far.

“For our inaugural year, we are very fortunate to have our Executive Director Zoe Callaway as the heart and soul of ABD working tirelessly everyday researching, writing, posting, calling and discussing the mission critical issues for all Delawareans.” — Chris Kenny, Founder and Co-Chairman

Almost 10,000 followers, over 13,000 email subscribers, and over a dozen distinct advocacy campaigns later, A Better Delaware celebrates one year of working with and for you.

What does the next year hold? We hope you’ll stick with us to find out! For now, we continue to work to improve the following statistics:

Delaware deserves better. Together, let’s make A Better Delaware.

Stop the Reverse Revolving Door

Texas limits two groups of people from running for public office: felons and the mentally incapacitated. In 2017, the state considered making an interesting addition to that list when a bill arose that would prevent lobbyists from being able to run for public office.

At first glance, it may seem excessive to group lobbyists with felons and people with mental handicaps, but the measure had great intentions and some precedent.

The precedent here comes from major concern with the “revolving door” of politics at state and federal levels. The revolving door is when legislators move into lobbying or similar state-related positions after retiring from office. Critics of this practice cite major concerns surrounding government accountability and trust in government.

Those at the end of their time in office who are eyeing a lobbying role are more likely to be influenced by the company or interests that the will shortly advocate for, leaving the public at a serious disadvantage. Once in these lucrative, private sector positions, former lawmakers have inside connections and relationships with those they will now stand in front of, on behalf of special interests.

Federal actions to prevent the revolving door have not been successful, and neither have similar measures in Delaware. When state senate leader Patty Blevins (D—Elsmere) lost her re-election in 2016, her new position with the Division of Public Health seemed to be in violation of state rules against revolving door type activities, included in the ethics portion of the Delaware Code.

So, when a lobbyist decides to run for office, these concerns remain. This process is known as the “reverse revolving door,” and is still a breach of trust in government and weakens government accountability.

A South Dakota lobbyist-turned-Congressman came under fire for adding language in a bill that helped his former employer. The same can be expected at the state level, and may be easier to prevent.

Delaware can either be more susceptible to this problem, or can do better to prevent it. In a state where everyone knows everyone, interests are bound to get tied up, but we do not have to blatantly allow for special interests to enter the legislative process and pass bills in favor of their friends or former employers. Delaware does however have the framework in a forgotten set of ethics guidelines that could be applied to and enforced with the reverse revolving door.

We already struggle with transparency and accountability in this state. We must do better.

Delaware should move to end the revolving door of politics and be an example to the nation. Until then, the people should consider the implications of electing former lobbyists to office and the impact this will have on the future of lawmaking in the First State.

New emergency order requires masks in homes, private gatherings

From Delaware Live

When Gov. John Carney rounded up all the modifications of his State of Emergency Order and put them into one new document, it added a sentence:

“A private residence where there is an indoor gathering of more than 10 people who do not reside at that property shall be considered an indoor space open to the public for purposes of this Order.”

That is new, confirmed Carney spokesman Jon Starkey, “though we have had some restrictions on private gatherings for a while.”

The new rule comes as Labor Day weekend is heading into full swing, with the last parties and cookouts of summer.

The new verbiage showed up Thursday, when Carney issued a press release saying that he had signed the 27th modification to his State of Emergency, combining all active COVID-19 restrictions into a single order, creating an Omnibus Executive Order.

The modification also formalized reopening bar service in Delaware beach communities and required that businesses more strictly enforce face covering requirements among their employees.

The new addition — in the section about face coverings — essentially requires homeowners and guests to follow the same protocols that restaurants and other public places do: wearing masks unless eating, but making sure the face coverings are on if you are moving around.

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Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce set to launch soon

From Delaware Business Times

MIDDLETOWN — To amplify the voices of and opportunities for success for Black business owners, a Middletown consultant is leading efforts to form a Delaware chapter of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

Khan Consulting President and CEO Ayanna Khan started the groundwork for the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce (DEBCC) this summer, but envisions a future organization that not only advocates for Black business owners, but also grants them a door to funding opportunities and workforce development.

“There is definitely a disconnect in the business community when it comes to helping Black business owners,” Khan told Delaware Business Times. “This will be the state’s first chapter, and it’s time to start one. We need to pull together to make sure these businesses are not left behind.”

A survey conducted by the Global Strategy Group showed that only 12% of Black and Latino businesses who applied for aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) received the full loan amount requested. About 26% of businesses surveyed received only a fraction of what was requested.

In Delaware, 14 out of the total 2,073 PPP loan recipients identified as businesses or nonprofits run by a person of color. Of the 14, five recipients identified as a Black-owned business or organization. Overall, 138 applicants identified as white and 1,921 applicants did not identify their race.

That inequality spoke volumes to Khan, especially since her firm helped nonprofits bring in millions through grants and fundraising.

“Seeing that Black business owners locked out of the PPP across the country because they didn’t fit the eligibility or the requirements, that really spoke to me,” Khan added. “Here I am, able to bring in millions for my clients and there’s a chance that businesses like mine wouldn’t see anywhere near the amount. No matter where you are in the state, it’s access to capital that’s the main struggle for Black businesses.”

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Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce set to launch soon

From Delaware Business Times

MIDDLETOWN — To amplify the voices of and opportunities for success for Black business owners, a Middletown consultant is leading efforts to form a Delaware chapter of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

Khan Consulting President and CEO Ayanna Khan started the groundwork for the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce (DEBCC) this summer, but envisions a future organization that not only advocates for Black business owners, but also grants them a door to funding opportunities and workforce development.

“There is definitely a disconnect in the business community when it comes to helping Black business owners,” Khan told Delaware Business Times. “This will be the state’s first chapter, and it’s time to start one. We need to pull together to make sure these businesses are not left behind.”

A survey conducted by the Global Strategy Group showed that only 12% of Black and Latino businesses who applied for aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) received the full loan amount requested. About 26% of businesses surveyed received only a fraction of what was requested.

In Delaware, 14 out of the total 2,073 PPP loan recipients identified as businesses or nonprofits run by a person of color. Of the 14, five recipients identified as a Black-owned business or organization. Overall, 138 applicants identified as white and 1,921 applicants did not identify their race.

That inequality spoke volumes to Khan, especially since her firm helped nonprofits bring in millions through grants and fundraising.

“Seeing that Black business owners locked out of the PPP across the country because they didn’t fit the eligibility or the requirements, that really spoke to me,” Khan added. “Here I am, able to bring in millions for my clients and there’s a chance that businesses like mine wouldn’t see anywhere near the amount. No matter where you are in the state, it’s access to capital that’s the main struggle for Black businesses.”

Read more

As Maryland enters stage 3 of COVID-19 reopening, movie theaters, live venues can open

From The News Journal

Movie theaters and entertainment venues can begin reopening later this week as Maryland moves into the third stage of coronavirus reopening, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.

All businesses in Maryland will be able to open in stage three, Hogan said. That includes movie theaters and live venues that have been shuttered since early in the pandemic.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

Entertainment facilities will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity or up to 100 people at indoor venues or 250 people at outdoor venues, Hogan said. Retail stores and houses of worship can now move from operating at 50 percent capacity to 75 percent capacity, he said.

“I want to remind the people of Maryland that moving into stage 3 does not mean that this crisis is behind us,” Hogan said, “and remind them that we must remain vigilant so that we can keep Maryland open for business.”

Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions can choose to apply more restrictive rules.

Hogan on Tuesday also announced that Maryland will be one of the first states in the country to provide some COVID-19 tracing services through a collaboration with Apple and Google.

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Sixty-acre sports complex set to open near Georgetown

From The News Journal

Georgetown’s long-awaited Sandhill Fields sports complex is set to open Sept. 9.

The almost 60-acre property at 20330 Sand Hill Road features eight regulation Bermuda grass soccer/lacrosse fields and six regulation pickleball courts.

A 3.1-mile regulation cross-country course is part of Sandhill Fields’ 3.5-mile wooded walking trail, half of which is an above-ground boardwalk.

“You have to see it,” said Lewes’ Joe Schell, who first envisioned the complex and donated the land. “It’s something else.”

About half of the walking trail at Sandhill Fields consists of a raised boardwalk.

There are picnic pavilions, restrooms and ample parking. Two playgrounds are still being built. An area at the center is reserved for food trucks.

The “first-class multisport center,” as described by Sandhill Fields’ website, is open to the public for free use. Sports clubs who wish to use the fields for practice, games and tournaments will be charged a fee.

It cost around $6.5 million, part of which was funded by a loan from the Sussex County Council. Any profit will go toward maintenance or future expansion.

Schell said a few organizations have already booked the fields for this fall. He is looking forward to busy spring and summer seasons next year.

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As donations run dry, closure looms for some Delaware nonprofits. What about their clients?

From The News Journal

Sixty-seven percent of surveyed nonprofits said they need financial support to pay for the cost of personal protection equipment required by state order, and 52% of nonprofits who received Personal Paycheck Protection loans from the Small Business Administration will need more to retain employees, according to a survey of over 100 Delaware nonprofits by the Delaware COVID-19 Emergency Response Initiative.

Meals on Wheels volunteer Bob Casey, right, delivers a meal to a recipient Thursday, August 27, 2020, in Dover.

But much of this funding will be gone by the fall.

The survey found that despite assistance from the philanthropic community and funds from the federal government, nearly a third of responding nonprofits have less than 10 weeks of available cash on hand.

Take Modern Maturity, which doubled its production when the pandemic began and went from delivering 1,500 meals a day to almost 3,000 for several weeks. Now, the center is back to 1,500 meals but has added services like phone check-ins to make sure the seniors are receiving care.

Employees also keep an eye on clients like Hutson. Recently, she told the carrier that her fan was broken during one of Delaware’s particularly hot weeks and the center provided her with one – free of charge – and set it up.

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