MIDDLETOWN — Competition is fierce when it comes to attracting companies to Delaware.
With Senate Bill 127, First State public entities and businesses can perhaps speed by the pack of would-be out-of-state hosts.
Infrastructure is costly, and the newly created Site Readiness Fund is aimed to bring a financial boost to qualified entities.
Through the legislation, grants, loans and economic assistance will be available for infrastructure construction, renovation or expansion projects for commercial and industrial sites. First State businesses can tap into the fund, as well, for expansion purposes.
“We need to be ready within six months to be able to deliver a site to a prospective employer,” Gov. John Carney said at a bill-signing ceremony at First State Brewing Company in Middletown Tuesday afternoon. “This bill and the site-ready fund will enable us to be able to meet that objective.”
According to state Rep. Bill Bush, a Dover Democrat and key supporter of the bill along with prime sponsor Sen. Jack Walsh, a Stanton Democrat, “Ultimately what’s so great about economic development and bringing businesses to Delaware is the mere fact that at the end of the day, it turns into jobs for Delawareans and it improves the quality of their lives.
This is just an incredible tool we have in our toolbox right now.
“There are so many opportunities that are out there at this particular time and I think by sending the message that we have and creating this in the competitive nature that is out there now, we need to have this right now and I think it’s going to lead to a lot of great opportunities in the state of Delaware.”
Gov. Carney saluted members of the General Assembly, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the Division of Small Business for efforts made in creating the legislation. Overall “what this bill is about fundamentally is partnerships,” he said.
Pointing to 12 years of competing with other states to bring companies to Delaware (adding Amazon and Datwyler sites in the process, along with landing Chinese-based company WuXi AppTec), Middletown mayor Ken Branner said, “In early discussions with the companies it’s clear that they’re impressed with all the infrastructure that we as a town have in place.
“This bill will help us get more infrastructure in place and all around the state.
“When it comes to development in Middletown we never say no, we say yes to everything and then figure out how ... we’re going to do it. Senate Bill 127 will give us even more ammunition to fight for the next company that comes here and create more great jobs for Delaware.”
Applications for funding will be reviewed by the Council on Development Finance, and follow regulations that come with the state’s Strategic Fund. Then, according to the bill’s synopsis, The Council on Development Finance will make recommendations to the director of the Division of Small Business “concerning the viability of the proposed project and whether the project meets the criteria established by this legislation to award funding.”
The director may also require the applicant to report financial statements and project progress reports to determine that expenditures are consistent with the purpose of the fund.