Tag: Transportation and Infrastructure

Dover/Kent County MPO Sees ‘Inseparable’ Link Between Economic Development and Transportation

Dover/Kent County MPO Sees ‘Inseparable’ Link Between Economic Development and Transportation

January 3, 2022 – 

Marilyn Smith sees a very clear role for the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in supporting economic development efforts.

“I came from an economic development background, so I see economic development and transportation – anything that gets people or goods from Point A to Point B in Kent County, particularly those initiatives that will be primarily funded with federal dollars — as inseparable,” says Smith, who joined the MPO in December 2020 as executive director, replacing the retiring Reed Macmillan. “I don’t know how you can realistically pursue economic development without the transportation infrastructure in place to support it. It’s not my job to go out and attract companies. But it is my responsibility to make sure that we don’t miss opportunities because someone said Dover or Kent County doesn’t have the roads to get us from A to B.”

“Like everyone, things were humming along before the pandemic and then everything came to a screeching halt,” she adds. “Things started coming back right as I came on board [in December 2020]. We had to assess where we were with the projects that had started, asking whether anything had happened that would change the scope of those projects and our ability to work with our consultants to complete them.”

At the beginning of the current fiscal year on July 1, the MPO prioritized some new projects and started working on those.

“A lot of our projects are focused on rail and freight movement, and a couple are devoted to bicycle and pedestrian,” said Smith, whose previous role was supporting a Democratic Congressman from upstate New York and is now responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the MPO while ensuring compliance with Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) directives and oversight requirements. “We also have a few more traditional projects on such things as interchanges and traffic movement.”

Smith says it’s been an “interesting adjustment” coming from a state the size of New York.

“It can take you the day to traverse from end to end in New York,” she said. “Delaware is small. There are two degrees of separation between everybody. You don’t have that same bottleneck that I oftentimes experienced in a big diverse state where people are very far flung and you have lots of bureaus or departments. It certainly does allow us to move things quickly. If there’s a question, you can find someone who has the answer pretty fast.”

One of the things that she enjoys about her new role is the work that’s already been done to focus on the county’s strengths.

“We’re not chasing 100 things in Kent County, we’re focused on the things that we have determined we can be good at, or where we see opportunities,” she says.

For example, Kent County economic development officials commissioned a study that indicated the county should pursue opportunities in logistics warehousing, given the proximity to so many large population centers, the proximity to ports, the proximity to rail, and the availability of some large parcels of land that could lend well to that kind of business to that industry.

Over the past few months, the MPO and others in Kent County finished up a few projects that were started before Smith’s arrival, including the Harrington intermodal study, the Dover Air Cargo study and the City of Dover’s update of its bicycle and pedestrian plan, providing each entity with a solid roadmap.

Smith says there are a lot of places that do a pile of studies that ultimately just gather dust in a drawer, but the Dover/Kent County MPO has a history of providing solid recommendations and implementation plans so that the municipalities can take them and run and see something good come out of them.

“The City of Harrington and Kent Economic Partnership came to the MPO in 2019 and asked us to look at four largely undeveloped parcels – one owned by the city itself — that are adjacent to the rail spur in Harrington. The owners were willing to discuss the feasibility of a multi-modal industrial park but didn’t know exactly what it would look like. So the MPO’s study was designed to talk to the railroad and a potential terminal operator and explore the likelihood of goods and commodities coming in and out via rail versus completely being transported by truck.”

“One of the studies we finished in the last couple of months was how we could connect the Dover Air Cargo facility north of the Air Force Base and the Garrison Oaks Industrial Park that are a few miles apart,” she says. “There are a lot of one-lane roads with no shoulders, no striping, that go through residential areas. We needed to ask what we can do to make these things workable for each other because we’ve apparently had some site selectors respectfully pass on pursuing it further simply because of transportation and connection issues.”

Smith also sees opportunities to move forward with addressing other infrastructure opportunities that are already in the pipeline, such as separating commercial traffic from residential traffic at the East Camden and West Camden bypasses.

“I think it’s a mixed bag,” she said. “I think there are some places where traffic moves pretty well and supports industrial development and some places where we still have some work to do.”

But the Kent County organization is not focused just on industrial property. Where some might look ahead and see an opportunity for large family-owned farms to sell their land, Smith sees potential for farmers to change their business models to moving their products on rail cars instead of by truck.

“People are having problems finding truckers, fuel prices are going up, and we need to be very concerned about air quality,” she says. “This is a great project because it seems simple, but it could be really transformative for decades to come.”

Smith also says Kent County is working hard to make sure that anything that organizations like the MPO are working on do not leave out traditionally underserved or disenfranchised groups of people.

Focusing on those issues are at the top of MPO’s list as it looks at previous studies on passenger rail and some of the challenges with that, she says. “I think some people are changing their views that passenger rail in Delaware needs to be Amtrak. I grew up in Utah and they were having to figure out how to deal with hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics. In the 20-plus years since moving from Utah, the light rail system that was designed to move athletes and spectators to different venues has expanded to being a primary way of moving people north and south and east and west.”

“Transportation can transform the lives of people,” she says. “I think the importance of having access to transportation to get to work, getting to education, meeting basic life needs like health and food often gets overlooked and we’re [Dover/Kent County MPO] committed to addressing those challenges.”

‘Epiphany” brought Marilyn Smith to Delaware from Upstate NY


MAGNOLIA — Marilyn Smith and her husband spend their weekends in the car, getting to know the state after moving here from Upstate New York in early 2021.

“It obviously serves a professional purpose for me,” says the executive director of the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

“My husband is a school bus driver so he’s all over the place,” she says. “Sometimes he just says, I have got to take you to this place where I went and picked up kids the other day. You’ve got to see this.”

An undergraduate of Weber State University, with a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah, Smith came to the Dover/Kent County MPO from a role as senior economic development advisor for Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20).

The parents of two children, Marilyn and Steve are empty nesters who enjoy “grabbing our kayaks and going in a different body of water that we haven’t been in.”

Smith says she is “very pleased that there are four distinct seasons here,” particularly given that her last stop in Upstate New York often found her shoveling six feet of snow. “I also like that Magnolia is 10 minutes from my work. In New York, I was commuting an hour each way, so I was driving a minimum of 500 miles a week. I love that I can work until six o’clock if I want to and that it’s not after seven when I get home.”

She’s not ready to talk about “favorite restaurants” given the pandemic (“we are very pleased to have found a couple of good Mexican restaurants because where we came from wasn’t known for good Mexican food”), and she says she loves watching the planes flying into and out of Dover Air Force Base.

“We are close enough to the flight path that will never get old as long as I live, and we’re 10 minutes from the beach, so what’s not to love?”

The Smiths had their eyes set on Delaware well before the MPO position became available.

“We had been vacationing for a few years and we had said, we’ll retire to Delaware. And one day last summer, I had an epiphany and said maybe they shouldn’t wait to retire to move to Delaware.

“It occurred to me that when you retire and go to a place, you plop yourselves down in that place and you expect that community to just embrace you for the rest of your life, but you don’t have any skin in the game. That was really a motivating factor for us. It’s easy to have skin in the game when you have kids because you have the PTA and youth sports and all this and that. As an empty nester couple, we’re really pleased that we have been able to get out and start building some of those relationships.”

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Port-of-Wilmington

GT USA Wilmington Launches new Infrastructure Investments

GT USA Wilmington launches new infrastructure investments

3 MAY, 2019  THE MARITIME EXECUTIVE

GT USA Wilmington is on track with its first improvements at the Port of Wilmington after its first quarter managing the facility, according to its new CEO, Eric Casey.

“GT USA Wilmington is immensely proud to have received a 50-year concession to operate the port and to provide $600 million to upgrade and expand the terminal,” Casey said.

Improvement and extension of the dock and crane rail are under way, and these projects should be completed by this summer at a cost of $17 million. GT USA is also enhancing warehouse storage by increasing racking for palletized cargo.

According to Casey, the port will soon begin work on upgrading cargo throughput capacity from 350,000 TEUs to 600,000 TEUs, along with new capacity for roll-on/roll-off cargo.

Casey was appointed CEO of GT USA Wilmington LLC in October. He was previously vice president of Virginia International Terminals and an executive at Maersk Line. Casey spent 26 years with the U.S. Marine Corps, including roles in Special Operations, a National-Level Special Mission Unit and tours in Force Reconnaissance.

GT USA Wilmington, a subsidiary of UAE-based Gulftainer, signed a 50-year concession agreement last September to operate and expand the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, which has served shipping lines since 1923.

As part of the concession agreement, Gulftainer will invest significantly in the port by building a new container facility at DuPont’s former Edgemoor site. GT USA Wilmington also will establish a training facility for the ports and logistics industries, which is expected to train up to 1,000 people a year.

This article was originally posted on the Maritime Executive at: https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/gt-usa-wilmington-launches-new-infrastructure-investments

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Wilmington PharmaTech to Expand in Delaware; Planning New Large-Scale Manufacturing Facility

Wilmington PharmaTech to expand in Delaware; planning new large-scale manufacturing facility

25 FEBRUARY, 2019

Wilmington PharmaTech, with locations in Newark, Delaware and Suzhou Jiangsu, China, is expanding – planning to hire up to 139 new employees and invest $18 million in a new state-of-the-science research and manufacturing facility, to be located on 2309 Sunset Lake Road in Newark, Delaware.

Wilmington PharmaTech, in operation since 2003, is a Contract Research/Manufacturing Organization that provides integrated services to pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms to expedite new pharmaceutical product development. One of their main offerings is manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s) and related materials under cGMP, which is an important aspect in the drug development process that is required to ensure product quality and provide consistency during formulation and manufacture.

PharmaTech currently employs 37 full-time staff in the United States in several Newark locations including a 16,000 square foot building at 229A Lake Drive, a 50,000 square foot facility on Sunset Lake Road (previously owned by DuPont) and a 40,000 square foot building at Pencader Drive.

“Wilmington PharmaTech’s expansion shows Delaware’s distinctive strength in supporting biotechnology and pharmaceutical start-up companies and builds on a foundation that began more than 200 years ago with the DuPont Company,” said Governor John Carney.  “We remain committed to supporting job growth throughout Delaware.”

Dr. Ke Li, PMP®, PharmaTech’s Director of Operations, presented the company’s growth plans to the Council on Development Finance (CDF) on Monday, February 25, including the plan to build a new, large-scale pharmaceutical production facility. Wilmington PharmaTech requested a $300,400 performance-based grant to support adding new jobs and a grant of $360,000 for assistance with capital costs.

“This marks the next wave of growth, positioning Wilmington PharmaTech as the leader in new drug manufacturing in the US,” Said Hui-Yin Harry Li, Ph.D., President and CEO of Wilmington PharmaTech. “This expansion scales up operations and significantly enhances offerings to our clients in API manufacturing and related services. It also expands our portfolio of research, development, and potential commercial API services. PharmaTech’s expansion plans fulfill the commitment to growth and its hallmark reputation for excellence for our employees, customers, partners and our community in the state of Delaware.”

About Wilmington PharmaTech

Wilmington PharmaTech is a fully integrated Contract Research/Manufacturing Organization (CRO/CMO) specializing in chemical process research and cGMP manufacturing, analytical method development and validation.  The soon-to-be-built Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) manufacturing will serve the growing pharmaceutical, biotech and virtual biotech startups and as a one-stop contract research and manufacturing service provider. To learn more about Wilmington PharmaTech, please visit http://www.wilmingtonpharmatech.com.

 About Delaware Prosperity Partnership

Delaware Prosperity Partnership is a nonprofit that leads the state of Delaware’s economic development efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses; to build a stronger entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem; and to support private employers in identifying, recruiting and developing talent in the state of Delaware.

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Hercules-Building

Wilmington Office Buildings’ Internet Certification Could Bring Boost to Downtown

Wilmington office buildings’ Internet certification could bring boost to downtown

12 FEBRUARY, 2019 | DELAWARE ONLINE

Two office buildings in Wilmington have achieved a “best-in-class” level of Internet and technology infrastructure, a commercial real estate designation that city officials and real estate companies hope will give a boost to business downtown.

The two buildings which total 1 million square feet in rental office space are located at 1201 N. Market St. and 1313 N. Market St, the Hercules building.

They were given a platinum certification by WiredScore, the highest designation for the company which scores buildings’ Internet infrastructure for potential tenants.

High quality Internet connections are a crucial part of a building’s infrastructure for companies looking for office space. Financial institutions or law offices, for example, need to be able to efficiently share data, send files and make transactions across the country and globe.

The 1201 N. Market St. building is 85 percent occupied, while the Hercules building is 70 percent occupied, said Scott Johnson of building owner McConnell Johnson Real Estate.

About 1,700 buildings worldwide have received WiredScore certifications. Johnson said only about 120 boast the highest platinum status.

The infrastructure certification came thanks to state and private efforts to expand fiber optic cables, which provide higher bandwidth and the ability to transmit data over longer distances than traditional cables.

A state grant coupled with private investment helped fiber companies build more than 250 miles of cables throughout Delaware since 2013.

One of the downtown buildings that got the certification is the site of a connection hub that links the fiber cables in Delaware to thousands of miles of cables in the mid-Atlantic region and the rest of the U.S.

At a news conference, Mayor Mike Purzycki praised the certification and said it “put us on the map in another way.”

Real estate brokers say downtown Wilmington is becoming more attractive to businesses, but the city has struggled with downtown vacancies, often competing with commercial areas in the suburbs. The recent sale of two Bank of America buildings has left a visible chunk of office space downtown empty.

Rick Kingery, a real estate broker with Colliers International, said the fiber optics cables expansion has made Wilmington’s Internet connectivity strong overall. The WiredScore certification, he said, helps owners market their office space as comparable to one in, say, Manhattan.

“What you’re seeing at 1201 is just a landlord actually getting a certification to show how strong the speeds are,” he said. “It further broadcasts something that real estate professionals already knew.”

Johnson said the certification allows downtown Wilmington to compete for companies when it otherwise may have been overlooked.

“If we didn’t have this infrastructure we wouldn’t see anybody” interested, Johnson said. “It allows us to play in the game. Everybody depends on running data.”

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Delaware’s infrastructure

Study Sees Big Benefits from Investing in Delaware’s Infrastructure

Study sees big benefits from investing in Delaware’s infrastructure

4 FEBRUARY, 2019 | DELAWARE BUSINESS TIMES

An analysis from the national Business Roundtable reveals that a significant reinvestment in U.S. public infrastructure systems would add $1,000 in disposable income for the average Delaware household every year for 20 years and create 3,000 additional new jobs in Delaware over the next decade.

Prepared by the Interindustry Forecasting Project at the University of Maryland, the economic analysis shows that as a result of increased infrastructure investment over a 20-year period,

Delaware would benefit from:

– $8 billion of additional output from personal and non-tradable services;
– $6 billion of additional output from finance, insurance and real estate; and
– $3 billion of additional output from construction.

The study also shows that, nationally, infrastructure investment would raise wages by $1.34 per hour and, for every dollar invested in infrastructure, economic growth would increase by $3.70 over a 20-year time horizon.

On January 17, Governor John Carney proposed in his State of the State Address to invest $10 million to create a new Transportation Infrastructure Fund that would “help the state to react quickly to important economic development projects.”

The Delaware Business Roundtable believes the national Business Roundtable’s research shows the General Assembly should back the governor’s infrastructure proposal.

“This new study demonstrates the wisdom of Governor Carney’s proposal to beef up infrastructure funding in Delaware,” Delaware Business Roundtable Executive Director Robert Perkins said. “A significant investment in our infrastructure will have real and lasting benefits for Delaware’s taxpayers.”

The study analyzes the economic impacts of the following scenario: (1) a $737 billion investment is made over 10 years in America’s surface transportation, water and sewer systems, aviation, water resources and water transportation; and (2) thereafter, a new normal

for infrastructure spending by holding public capital investment infrastructure steady at a fixed share of GDP, in the range of 1.2 percent. This investment would return infrastructure systems to a state of good repair, expand capacity to meet future demand and fund innovative approaches to future infrastructure challenges.

This article was originally posted on the Delaware Business Times at: https://delawarebusinessnow.com/2019/01/study-sees-big-benefits-from-investing-in-delawares-infrastructure/

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Chemours New HQ

Chemours Opens New Global HQ in Renovated DuPont Building

Chemours opens new global HQ in renovated DuPont Building

16 JANUARY, 2019

The Chemours Company, a global chemical firm, opened its renovated company headquarters on January 15 within the historic, 106-year-old DuPont Building on Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington — the former headquarters of DuPont, which spun off Chemours in 2015.

“This is a place that our team can be proud to call home,” Chemours President and CEO Mark Vergnano told the gathering of local dignitaries. “Our renovated office is a perfect metaphor for Chemours – a company grounded in its legacy, but transforming into an agile, innovative and collaborative enterprise with a bias for actions and growth.”

Now in his fourth year as leader of the new company, Vergnano expressed continued confidence about Chemours’ future growth in a time of market turmoil. In an interview with Delaware Business Times after the ceremony, Vegnano said, “People recognize that we’re the world leaders in our fields, and the market gets that,” he said, referring to the decentralized firm’s three operating units – Titanium Technologies, Fluoroproducts and Chemical Solutions.

The new headquarters will occupy 280,000 square feet in an 11-story segment of the building that is owned by the Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG), which also oversaw the 20-month renovation. Chemours’ share of construction costs was $30 million.

Vergnano said his company made a conscious decision not to change the building’s name to the Chemours Building out of respect for the company’s heritage, which dates back to the founding of DuPont on Brandywine Creek in 1802.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Gov. John Carney, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and BPG Co-President Christopher Buccini were among the speakers at the ceremony and ribbon-cutting event that took place in the ornate Nobel Room on the 11th Floor.

Buccini purchased the building, including the Hotel du Pont, from Chemours in 2017 and set about revitalizing the structure, including adding residential units.

“After having renovated the Nemours and Brandywine buildings earlier, we had the knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work,” Buccini said. “This project stressed tested our company’s capabilities.” In his prepared remarks, Buccini noted that “Chemours’ decision to be based in this historic building is a fitting tribute to their heritage, while their 21st Century workspace points boldly to their future. We are proud to have been on this journey with them.”

Approximately 850 Chemours employees and contractors will work in the headquarters, which has 125 meeting rooms, 73 conference rooms and one café per floor of the building. The structure’s open-concept design features ergonomic chairs and sit/stand desks. In addition, 500 marble panels were recovered during renovation– about 50 tons in all – and reused in the building.

Carney noted that “this is probably the happiest day I’ve had in my two years as governor,” crediting the work done toward keeping Chemours in Wilmington and Delaware by his predecessor, former governor Jack Markell. “The state of Delaware can’t be successful without Wilmington being successful, and Wilmington can’t be successful” without a strong business base.

Purzycki, who followed Governor Carney to the podium, said, “If John is happy, you can’t imagine how happy the mayor of Wilmington is.”

Business analysts continue to be bullish on Chemours, most rating it a “buy” or “strong buy” to potential investors. Vergnano expressed confidence in the strength of the American economy, while noting that global market volatility continued to make the company’s stock undervalued. “I was given the advice by other CEO’s when I took over not to check the stock price every day,” he said. “We can’t control market volatility, which is a reflection of the fact that the market hates uncertainty.”

He re-stated his opinion that Chemours, with its worldwide manufacturing and marketing capabilities, is positioned better than most companies to weather this uncertainty, which includes tariff wars, the slowdown of the Chinese economy and what will play out with Brexit, the UK’s planned withdrawal from the EU.

“We’re not interested in acquisitions or new business outside the three areas where we have a strong presence,” he said. “Second, we will continue to invest in ourselves [through normal business expansion]. And, we will continue to provide cash back to our stockholders.”

Chemours had annual revenue in 2017 of more than $6 billion and with 45 manufacturing and laboratory sites worldwide, serving customers in over 130 countries.

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