Fast Track Approvals, Streamlined Communication, and Greater Transparency and Predictability Needed to Strengthen State’s Business Environment
Wilmington, Delaware (December 10, 2020) – A new independent analysis of Delaware’s permitting process finds that other states in the region, including Maryland and Pennsylvania, are able to achieve substantially faster permit approvals for businesses wishing to locate or expand in the state. As a result, Delaware is missing significant economic development opportunities in the competition for jobs, talent and investment.
The analysis, conducted by professional services firm KPMG, concludes that Delaware has an opportunity to be more competitive if its permitting processes were strengthened through streamlined communication between state agencies, greater transparency and cost predictability, and a fast-track approval program for high-priority projects, among other recommendations.
“Coupled with low taxes, a prime location and a high-quality workforce, a more favorable permitting environment would make it significantly more likely that Delaware would be more competitive as we work to grow, retain and attract businesses to our state. These recommendations should serve as a roadmap for policymakers to develop a more predictable permitting process and a more competitive Delaware.”
Rod Ward, Chairman, Delaware Business Roundtable and co-chair of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.
The analysis was commissioned by the Ready In 6 Coalition, comprised of Delaware Business Roundtable, Delaware State Chamber, Kent Economic Partnership, Greater Kent Committee, Sussex County Economic Development Action Team, ACEC Delaware, the Committee of 100, the Central Delaware Chamber, the New Castle County Chamber, Delaware Contractors Association, the Delaware Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Home Builders Association of Delaware.
The analysis finds, “With significant competition between states for jobs, talent and investment, an efficient permit process is critical to demonstrate a favorable business climate and provide a predictable outcome for businesses seeking to locate or expand in Delaware. Because prospective businesses target locations which can achieve permitting in as few as six months, those states with longer permit timeframes experience reduced interest and missed economic development opportunities.”
Delaware’s permitting process can stretch up to 24 months, placing the state at a distinct economic development disadvantage when it comes to attracting and growing businesses. “In the region, Delaware’s competitors, Maryland and Pennsylvania, are able to achieve substantially faster permit approvals. As a result, Delaware is missing significant economic development opportunities,” the analysis concludes.
The Roundtable and its partners have launched a “Ready in 6” initiative, designed to cut the permitting timeline from 24 months to six months to make Delaware more competitive with other states.
The report recommends state and county leaders improve in three key areas to streamline the permitting process in Delaware: Enhance communication, increase efficiency and reduce paperwork, and track and use data more effectively.
• Create a state project concierge to help streamline communication among state agencies. This office would coordinate efforts among agencies to identify opportunities to improve the process and performance of the permitting process.
• Create a permitting action committee to assist with the implementation of permit improvements, made up of key state and county stakeholders.
• Evaluate the integration of statewide information technology solutions to better integrate the permitting process between agencies and allow visibility to counties, improving communication among government agencies, counties and cities.
• Implement permit-focused economic development training for state and county permit stakeholders. This is designed to educate stakeholders on processes and to help them work together seamlessly.
Increase Efficiency and Reduce Paperwork
• Create a prioritization program for significant economic development projects to fast track approvals.
• Streamline and strengthen the Department of Transportation’s review process to ensure all departments review and provide comments on construction plans during the initial review cycle, providing investors with predictability on issues and costs for proposed projects.
• Implement Transportation Improvement Districts (TIDs) in areas experiencing or targeted for significant development to provide investors with greater visibility into the process and cost predictability. The state should expand on existing TIDs and expedite permit review and approval in these districts.
• Implement an initiative to pre-package approvals for targeted investment sites, reducing the permitting timeline as issues are known and solved prior to investors making project decisions.
Track and Use Data
• State and county agencies should generate data that measures permit process timelines, allowing regulators to develop key performance indicators once historical data is available. Data currently is inconsistently collected by state and county agencies. By collecting and publishing metrics, it would drive increased transparency and accountability among permitting agencies.
• Delaware needs to capture more and better economic development data to better understand new, missed and lost opportunities. Historical data needs to be generated to better understand out the state’s permitting process is impacting economic development.
“Taken together, these recommendations will provide efficiency, clarity, transparency and predictability to the permitting process in Delaware – all of which are crucial to helping the state attract and grow businesses,” Ward said. “We look forward to working with state and county officials to make these ideas a reality as quickly as possible.”
About the Delaware Business Roundtable The Delaware Business Roundtable is a non-partisan, volunteer consortium of CEOs whose companies collectively employ over 75,000 people in Delaware. Since its inception in 1981, the Roundtable’s broad mission is to enhance the quality of life in Delaware by promoting commerce, job creation and select public policy issues. In recent years, the Roundtable has been a leading supporter of public education transformation and entrepreneurs in Delaware.
Press Release Contact: Tony Jewell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-576-3800
Additional Articles: Delaware Business Times – Ready in 6 report recommends ways to drive faster permit approvals Technical.ly Delaware – Delaware Biz Roundtable analysis: Slow permit approvals hinder economic development
As we continue to pursue the redevelopment of the former GM plant on Boxwood Road in Wilmington, we are excited to welcome a co-developer, Dermody Properties, to the project. We chose Dermody not only due to its long record as one of the most reputable and accomplished industrial developers in the country, but because they represent a partner who shares both our values and our vision for a modern business and distribution campus that can serve as a new economic engine for northern Delaware. We expect their expertise will not only allow us to accelerate the timeline toward the campus’ completion, but also ensure it will be fully capable of attracting successful companies that can bring quality, lasting jobs for our community.
Members of the Harvey, Hanna & Associates team had the privilege of taking a bike ride on the Jack A. Markell Trail with Senator Tom Carper, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, Senator Tizzy Lockman and Newport Mayor Michael Spencer. The bike ride was an opportunity for Senator Carper to see projects that are eligible for funding under the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act – which devotes $287 billion in upgrading and enhancing our nation’s road, highways and bridges. The group also visited the proposed bike trail that would eventually connect Newport and the Jack A. Markell Trail.
As we move closer toward the end of the demolition process at the former GM plant on Boxwood Road, we are happy to announce that all asbestos removal work at the property has now been completed.
Since April, we have been commissioning third-party testing of both the procedures at the property, as well as daily air quality samples around the fence line. No operational violations have been found since those checks began, and air quality around the perimeter has consistently measured well below the applicable Federal and State standard. Many of those samples have been posted on Facebook, but a full accounting of the test results has been posted on GMBoxwoodFacts.com.
We want to extend our sincere gratitude to the neighbors around the plant and the wider Wilmington community for their support throughout this process. With demolition expected to conclude this fall, we are now one step closer to our goal of creating a new business and distribution campus that can create jobs and restore this property’s status as an economic engine for New Castle County.
We are happy to announce a new website to help provide area residents and other interested parties with important information regarding the ongoing redevelopment of the former General Motors plant into a thriving, state-of-the-art business, fulfillment and logistics campus.
GMBoxwoodfacts.com is a project specific website that will keep the community informed regarding recent concerns raised about asbestos removal and handling. The website will be updated frequently with the results of daily air quality testing around the property’s fence line in addition to providing many other important documents related to the redevelopment. The website is mobile-friendly, user-friendly and provides users information on quick facts and data, economic impact, development milestones and recent media articles. Website visitors can also contact us directly by e-mail or sign up for our e-mail newsletter updates.
As a local company made up of Delaware natives and longtime
residents, we hold the health and safety of our community with the highest
regard and this website will provide our neighbors with first-hand access to
the facts, putting to rest the false and irresponsible rumors that have been
circulating about the work to transform this long-vacant property.
you for your support.
Hanna & Associates, Inc. and Boxwood Industrial Park, LLC
As demolition continues to move forward at the former General Motors plant on Boxwood Road, we have received dozens of messages from members of the community who support our plans to revitalize it as a modern distribution and business campus. Many of those messages came from former workers who spent countless hours working there, and were searching for a way to celebrate their many experiences at the plant.
Today, we are happy to announce that we are offering all area residents their very own piece of the former plant, in the form of commemorative bricks that once made up its main assembly facility and administration building.
By clicking the link below, you can register for your very own piece of the plant, which will be delivered in person at an event to be held in the spring or summer. Plain bricks are $5, and bricks that include a commemorative gold plate are being sold for $10. All proceeds from the sale will go to the non-profit Delaware KIDS Fund and its food pantry at Richey Elementary School in Newport.
Per the enclosed Public Notice, DNREC will host a Technical Workshop on the proposed plan of remedial action (PPRA) for Operable Unit 5 (OU-5) at the former GM Plant on Wednesday, January 16 at 6:00 pm at the Five Points Fire Hall. This is a DNREC-hosted technical workshop, and representatives of DNREC, RACER Trust, and HHA/Boxwood Industrial Park will be present to answer your questions. HHA is planning a community update on all aspects of the redevelopment project later this spring.
Harvey Hanna & Associates continues to make progress on its mission to transform the former General Motor plant on Boxwood Road into a modern business and distribution campus that can serve as a new and lasting economic engine for Delaware. While that process moves forward, however, there has been no shortage of activity at the property.
Recently, heavy rains caused the Red Clay School District’s bus depot to flood, leaving no place to store and deploy its fleet. Thankfully, Harvey Hanna was able to offer them the Boxwood property in its place, and we welcomed more than 90 school buses throughout the coming weeks.
In late July, Wilmington’s Five Points Fire Company hosted a training for area fire companies at the property, where firefighters learned self-survival skills and forcible entry techniques. Using the empty former plant, they trained using high rise packs and employed different tools in mock firefighting scenarios that could not be performed without a large and spacious building at their disposal. In March, we welcomed police officers from the Delaware State Police and local agencies for several days as they conducted their regular police K-9 training sessions.
As longtime members of the community, Harvey Hanna knows first-hand what the former plant has meant to so many of our residents over the last six decades. While the process of redeveloping and revitalizing such a large property is a lengthy one, we are taking every step we can to ensure the plant property remains a valuable asset for the community along the way.
Please Note: Site plan shown here is for illustrative purposes only and may not be relied up as final. The recently submitted exploratory plan will be displayed at the Community Briefing- which also shows a much more accurate parking rationale. This is for illustrative purposes only.The exploratory plan is posted directly under Active Plans on New Castle County’s Land Use Department Website, within “District 1”
As you may have recently learned, Harvey Hanna & Associates has filed exploratory plans for the dormant former General Motors plant site on Boxwood Road in Wilmington. The plans call for the demolition of the existing plant buildings, in order to make way for a modern distribution campus that we believe is more suited for today’s economy.
As a local firm, we know first-hand the long hours many residents spent working at the plant and the significance it holds in the community. So while it is with mixed emotions that we ultimately decided on demolishing the old structure, a new facility would allow us to better compete for the kind of logistics, distribution and other businesses built to thrive in the 21st century, and bring thousands of critical jobs back to New Castle County.The plan is currently being evaluated by the county and other government agencies, but the early feedback we have received from both officials and residents, including many former plant workers, has been very positive.
As we have stated throughout, we remain committed to keeping an open dialogue with the community as we explore the best possible use for this property. With that in mind, we would like to extend an invitation for all to join us on June 12th at 7pm for a public meeting at Five Points Memorial Hall (209 South Maryland Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19804) to discuss our plans, the plant’s future and what it means for the future of our community and greater Delaware. Attendees can expect to hear from Harvey Hanna, our engineering firm Apex Engineering, and a representative from the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.