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The First State aims to be first in business

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell
Friday, 19 Jul 2013 | 10:48 AM ET
Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware
Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware

In Delaware, we listen to the priorities of our business people. By working with them on all fronts, from driving down costs to improving our education system, we make the First State a great place to start a new company or expand a growing one.

Last month, experts from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia confirmed that Delaware's economy is "well-positioned" for "decades of growth ahead." They credited our state as a "first mover" in identifying opportunities for growth and praised our portfolio of generally high-wage industries.

Delaware offers a high quality of life, with beautiful beaches, parks, scenic farmland, a vibrant arts community and a rich cultural and historical heritage. Furthermore, our longtime leadership in corporate law and our Court of Chancery's unmatched expertise in this area have repeatedly earned our state acclaim as the most fair and reasonable legal system for U.S. businesses.

We're committed to taking advantage of these assets, and our policymakers' work demonstrates the state's dedication to meeting the needs of our many innovative and hardworking business people.

Recent legislation places tighter controls on workers' compensation medical costs and ensures that insurance carriers' requests for rate increases receive a high level of scrutiny to tackle recent increases in premiums. We have also reformed our unemployment insurance system to reduce the burden on employers and have focused on lowering gross-receipt taxes.

As part of our efforts to ensure entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need, we helped launch "Start It Up Delaware," a public-private partnership that brings together our financial, accounting, legal and real estate communities to assist new companies.

To drive down energy costs for businesses and families, we've focused on inexpensive and cleaner-burning natural gas, and last month, Calpine Corporation broke ground on a new power plant in Dover that is expected to serve about a quarter of a million homes.

(Read more: Underground economy: How shale is 'fracking' the old order)

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Meanwhile, we are modifying or eliminating more than 140 state regulations to make it easier to do business and to improve government efficiency. In departments large and small we looked for and found ways to reduce paperwork, streamline permit applications and eliminate unnecessary rules, without sacrificing public safety. As a result of these changes, entrepreneurs and established companies can spend time building their businesses and hiring instead of filling out forms and waiting in line.

Supported by Democrats and Republicans, the regulatory reform process demonstrates our ability to bring together the right people and engage the public to make good decisions. Our close-knit community consistently allows business leaders to work together with government representatives at the federal, state and local level to resolve challenges.

Moreover, Delaware's convenient location provides easy access to many major cities, including New York and Washington, as well as many transportation alternatives—international airports, Amtrak rail service and interstate highways—that put the rest of the world within quick reach.

Recognizing our increasing reliance on the Internet to communicate and do business, we also prioritize maintaining the country's best broadband infrastructure. Delaware has the fastest connection speeds in the country, nearly 9 percent faster than our closest competitor last year.

We understand that entrepreneurs want to locate in areas with great schools that produce a skilled workforce. After our education plan finished first in the "Race to the Top" federal funding competition for its capacity to improve student performance, we continue to move forward. The Education Commission of the States recently awarded Delaware the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation, which recognizes creative changes that boost student learning.

We're increasing enrollment in high-quality early education, raising standards in our public schools as a leader in implementing the Common Core curriculum and working with the business community on STEM programs that are relevant to the job market. For current workers, our Department of Labor is partnering with employers to establish a career readiness credential that companies can respect and trust.

(Read more: Top US states for new manufacturing jobs)

As global businesses choose where to locate, we understand it serves them well to hire employees who can communicate with the markets they serve. We've started world language immersion programs in which students spend half of each school day learning in Chinese or Spanish, beginning in kindergarten. We expect them to be able to pass their Advanced Placement Language exam by ninth grade and, over the next decade, we plan to reach more than 10,000 young people.

As concerns about jobs leaving the country intensify, Delaware companies in advanced industries are bringing jobs back from abroad. ILC Dover, known for making spacesuits for NASA and personal protection equipment for military, Homeland Security and industrial users, moved manufacturing operations—and the accompanying 115 jobs—from Mexico to Seaford. And Hologic, a leading manufacturer and supplier of diagnostic, surgical and medical imaging equipment, has decided to move jobs here from Germany.

Delaware has a strong foundation to compete, lead and win on the global stage for many years to come, and I'm confident our economic successes will continue to multiply.

By Delaware Gov. Jack Markell

Read more blogs from U.S. governors here.

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