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Transportation investment fund picks first 8 recipients for $8M+

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DOVER – The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (TIIF) Council has recommended its first eight recipients for $8.8 million in grant funds. They include some well-known names that will add more than 1,300 jobs to Delaware.

The fund was established to provide economic assistance for renovation, construction, or any other type of improvements to roads and related transportation infrastructure in order to attract new businesses to this state or expand existing in-state businesses. It was spearheaded by Gov. John Carney in his fiscal year 2020 budget, which earmarked $5 million from the state’s general fund and $5 million from the Delaware Department of Transportation’s Trust Fund for the initiative. Notably, the TIIF program was supported for another $5 million in the state’s FY 2021 budget despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on anticipated revenues.

In front of the Christina River Bridge, Gov. John Carney signed Senate Bill 61, legislation that establishes the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund, on July 31, 2019. | PHOTO COURTESY OF GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

The fund is managed by the nine-member TIIF Council, which consists of seven appointments made by the governor and two state legislators. The council, chaired by Joe Westcott, market president for Capital One, considers applications and make funding recommendations to Delaware’s Transportation Secretary and the Secretary of State.

On June 18, the council recommended that the first batch of grants be awarded to a variety of businesses, from a pharmaceutical giant to an auto dealership, a recreational vehicle park to a hospital system.

“We greatly appreciate the council’s work in reviewing the merits of each applicant and look forward to reviewing their recommendations,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan in a statement announcing the council vote.

The largest recommended recipient is Peninsula Regional Health System, which asked for nearly $3.6 million to support 150 new jobs. It recently announced plans to build an ambulatory medical campus north of Millsboro, between its primary care offices off U.S. 113 and its recently acquired hospital in Seaford. The grant supports construction of two commercial entrances on U.S. Route 113, improvements to highway crossovers, and multi-modal and off-site intersection improvements.

The second largest recipient is a subsidiary of Blue Water Development, which is developing the Fort DuPont RV Resort in Delaware City. It would receive $1.35 million to support five full-time jobs as well as 65 seasonal ones. Blue Water aims to develop a 425-site RV resort and the grant will fund construction of a roundabout on Route 9 and upgrades to Polktown and North Reedy Point roads.

Ranking third in allocation is N.K.S. Distributors, the state’s largest alcohol distributor, which would stand to receive $1.15 million to support four new jobs. It is looking to build a new $30 million, 257,000-square-foot headquarters and warehouse adjacent to Willis Chevrolet Buick off U.S. Route 13 south of Smyrna. The grant would support installation of a new traffic signal and widening of Big Woods Road to provide shoulders.

The only other recipient recommended for a seven-figure grant was Incyte Corp., the pharmaceutical company headquartered north of Wilmington, which would receive just over $1 million to support 800 new jobs and 152 relocated ones upon the completion of a new laboratory and office building. The grant will fund a signalized intersection on Augustine Cut-Off as well as pedestrian and entrance improvements, and repaving.

Incyte

An artist’s rendering shows Incyte’s headquarters. | PHOTO COURTESY OF INCYTE

Catalina Loveman, spokeswoman for Incyte, said the reported headcount included employees who would be relocating from leased spaces in the DuPont Experimental Station and in Chadds Ford, Pa., when the new buildings at their Alapocas campus are completed. She added that the transportation upgrades would also benefit any future plans that Incyte may have for the neighboring former Lower School campus of the Wilmington Friends School, which the company recently entered into an agreement to purchase.

“Support from the state in the form of grants like the one which has been granted are of great value as we look to grow our presence in the Delaware community, bringing new jobs and further supporting the local economy as well as contributing to our community,” she said.

The other recipients include:

  • FMIIV, the developer of a yet-to-be-announced corrugated box factory in Dover, which requested $600,000 for 159 new jobs. The grant will support signalization, entrance enhancements and other improvements for the development of a new 500,000-sqaure-foot manufacturing plant.
  • Lakeshore Motor Corp., which requested about $522,000 for 25 jobs at a to-be-built Chrysler Fiat dealership in Seaford. The grant will support installation of an entrance on U.S. Route 13 as well as pedestrian improvements and improved drainage.
  • Miller Metal Fabrication, which would receive $313,000 for six relocated jobs. The grant funds a new entrance to the industrial park off Route 404, allowing for future development there.
  • CHRF LLC, which would receive $250,000 for 18 new jobs. The company is proposing to build a 21,000-square-foot workshop and 9,880-square-foot office building at 3604 Downing Drive in east Wilmington. The grant will build a cul-de-sac and repave the public road.

The TIIF Council turned down a ninth applicant, M&E Properties, which is proposing to build a nearly 10,000-square-foot building off U.S. Route 113 in Dagsboro that would create 10 jobs. It sought $150,000 for turn lane improvements and shoulder widening but was turned down after DelDOT determined the project would create too much traffic on Route 113, where it is trying to decrease potential traffic congestion.

The council also recommended awarding Incyte about $150,000 less than it requested and N.K.S. about $200,000 less, after DelDOT officials suggested that contingent costs for the projects be capped at 10%.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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