[caption id="attachment_235193" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] PHOTO COURTESY OF Arthur Chauvineau / Unsplash[/caption]
I can usually tell that it’s time to start reflecting on the past year when my morning inbox falls below 100 messages, the frost gets heavier on my windshield and my house is overtaken by garland and lights.At first glance, 2023 is likely a year that we hope to quickly end.
[caption id="attachment_222223" align="alignright" width="300"] Jacob Owens Editor Delaware Business Times[/caption]
Around the globe, we’ve seen the continued carnage of the Ukrainian-Russian war that has killed tens of thousands. Then in October, we saw the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, with Hamas terrorists killing 1,200 Israelis and taking hundreds of hostages. The attack has spurred a war in Palestine that has killed thousands more in the Gaza Strip.This year will also likely be the hottest in recorded history, as they are poised to easily surpass the 2-degree Celsius limit established in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Worsening climate change is already exacerbating the threat of natural disasters around the globe, including the wildfires in Hawaii that killed more than 100 people in August.At home, America continued to grapple with its long epidemic of gun violence, with mass shootings at bowling alleys, dance halls, schools, banks and more claiming the lives of dozens of people.Disfunction seemed to rule our national political landscape, as House Republicans voted out their own elected Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, after less than a year on the job. It took three weeks for the GOP to reach a consensus in electing Mike Johnson as the new Speaker of the House.Former President Donald Trump spent as much time in courtrooms related to several civil and criminal trials against him as he did on the campaign trail for 2024. Yet his opponents in the Republican primary field haven’t made up much ground on the front-runner despite those legal issues.In Delaware, we lost state leaders like Skadden Arps office founder Rod Ward Jr., small business advocate Will Minster, banking law author Frank Biondi, Sussex County businessman and civic leader Terry Megee, longtime Mountaire Farms CEO David Pogge, and former DuPont CEO Ed Woolard Jr.We also detailed the growing housing challenges for residents here, where homeownership has dropped for young and middle-aged Delawareans in the last decade. An estimated 1,200 affordable units need to be developed every year through 2030 to match current trends, a number far above what is currently being completed.In public education, new national reports ranked Delaware amid the states with the worst learning loss after the pandemic. The 2023 state assessments showed that just four in 10 students in grades 3-8 met proficiency standards for language arts and only a third did so in math.Yet with all those headaches and heartache this year, there is still much to be thankful for with our waning days of 2023.One of the biggest victories was the selection of the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2) for $750 million in federal funding. Delaware is well poised to capture a significant chunk of that funding that will also go to southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, as a coalition of private companies and public entities have developed an ecosystem for research and development on hydrogen.The Biden administration also supported the president’s home state with a pair of $50 million grants to advance public housing in Wilmington’s Riverside neighborhood and the container port planned for Edgemoor. We’ll likely see more of an impact from the presidential association after Biden chose to headquarter his re-election campaign in Wilmington.In transportation, Avelo Airlines has succeeded even the most optimistic outlooks on its first year of service from Wilmington Airport, breaking the record for most passengers served here in a year. That success has translated to increased opportunities for Delawareans to visit new places like Puerto Rico and Nashville that previously would have required more costly flights from bigger airports.The Port of Wilmington also resolved long-lingering issues by replacing its operator Gulftainer with competitor Enstructure, bringing in an American company with greater experience in small-market ports and a knowledge of Wilmington.Although commercial development has slowed from some of those pandemic era highs, Delaware did see several notable investments this year, including a commitment by JPMorgan Chase to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into its facilities here, an $89 million expansion by specialty pharmacy company Accredo Health Group, a $170 million facility by Agile Cold Storage, and hundreds of millions of dollars in residential, office and industrial projects by Buccini/Pollin Group.In higher education, Wilmington University celebrated the opening of the state’s first new law school in decades, bringing some competition and greater enrollment opportunity to the First State that has long been a national legal center. The University of Delaware celebrated the opening of the cutting-edge FinTech Innovation Hub and its invitation to Conference USA, which will give greater exposure to the university nationwide. In Dover, Delaware State University reached new enrollment records while signing new partnerships for its aviation program and boosting its reputation as a research center by securing federal grants.In Dover, city leaders completed an aspirational plan to reimagine and revitalize the state capital’s downtown in a $500 million project. One of the first pieces of that puzzle could be a mixed-use redevelopment of the former Dover Post Office, and a trio of developers are already working on moving it forward.This was not an easy year, and frankly 2024 is setting up the same, but let us not lose sight of the many blessings we can celebrate. Best wishes to all of our readers.
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