Dec 29 2017
In the Navy, we had the term “Refusal Speed” – the speed at which an aircraft heading down the runway can either take off, or slow down. While 2017 was a contentious year for our country, Delaware remained focused on the mission at hand, continuing our work to make the First State a great place to live, raise a family, and start and grow a business. Together, with my partners in Congress, Senator Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, state and community leaders, and engaged Delawareans, we have made progress by following what I like to call the Three C’s: Communication, Compromise and Collaboration. Throughout 2017, Delaware had a number of wins to help sustain and grow our economy and set Delaware up for success in the years to come. I believe our collective hard work this year has brought Delaware to Refusal Speed, and we are ready to take flight in 2018.
After the announcement that Dow and DuPont would merge, the entire state came together to make the best of a difficult situation. Highlighting Delaware’s unmatched workforce and generational ties to DuPont, we secured DowDuPont’s new Agriculture Division and Specialty Products Division headquarters here in Delaware. We then found innovative ways to protect and foster one of Delaware’s most incredible resources – world-class scientists. In October, we secured a $3 million Economic Development Administration grant to secure the Delaware Innovation Space, combining Delaware’s scientists with the resources of DuPont and the University of Delaware to help our scientist-entrepreneurs build new businesses and foster a community of scientific innovation right here in Delaware.
We've also continued to foster science, technology and future manufacturing growth in Delaware. Plans are underway for two multi-modal rail stations in Newark and Claymont that will better connect Delaware to our surrounding regions and serve as a catalyst for development. At the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus, where thousands of workers once made cars and trucks at the old Chrysler plant, we broke ground on the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, and Chemours’ Discovery Hub. The development we’re seeing where shuttered manufacturing plants used to stand gives us hope for future job growth in the First State.
Along Delaware’s 21 miles of oceanfront, we have more 5-star beaches than any other state. Over the past few years, our beaches have seen terrible damage from Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, a number of Nor’easters, and Winter Storm Jonas in January 2016. Our beaches are more than environmental treasures, they generate more than $6.9 billion in coastal tourism annually and support 10 percent of Delaware’s workforce. That’s why it’s so important to invest in building up our dunes and beaches so they can protect our homes, businesses and infrastructure along the coast from rising seas and more frequent, larger storm damage. This year, we secured federal funding to begin replenishing the beaches in Bethany, South Bethany and Fenwick Island, all damaged from these powerful storms.
In the Delaware River itself, we secured the final $29 million needed to complete the decades-long project to deepen the waters around the Port of Wilmington. The Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project is scheduled to be completed next year and will allow larger ships from all over the world to utilize our port, and keep Delaware competitive in the 21st Century global economy. Completing the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project is expected to create thousands of new jobs in the Greater Philadelphia area.
We’ve also continued our constant efforts to support our men and women in uniform and our military community that calls the First State home. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA) authorizing funding for the Department of Defense, included much needed funding to support the National Guard’s air fleet across the country, including $96.11 million for C-130H modernization and $26.8 million for general upgrades. This is crucial funding to keep the Delaware National Guard’s C-130s on pace and ready to go at a moment’s notice. We also made progress in our never-ending duty to care for those who have borne the battle, opening a new 10,000-square-foot Veterans’ Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Georgetown, bringing health care closer to our veterans in Sussex County.
All across the First State, Delawareans worked together – regardless of politics – to support their communities, grow our economy and make 2017 a remarkable year. All of these accomplishments, and more, make me confident that Delaware is at Refusal Speed and ready to take flight in 2018.
Happy New Year, and God bless.