Delaware governor talks Fisker, marijuana and the Newark power plant

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From Fisker and job creation to marijuana and gambling, Delaware Governor Jack Markell has a lot to keep track of in the First State.

During a visit to WHYY’s Radio Times,  host Marty Moss-Coane on Friday discussed just a few of those issues creating buzz in Delaware with the governor.

As Fisker heads to the auction block, Markell said he’s monitoring the actions of the two possible bidders to see if either will bring back car manufacturing in Delaware.

The defunct luxury car manufacturer was supposed to create thousands of jobs in Delaware when it purchased the former General Motors factory in Newport, Delaware back in 2009.

The state and the federal government invested millions in incentives to help kick-start production however, the company took a turn for the worst and filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, without producing a single car in Delaware.

As part of the auction, the bidders could obtain the “Boxwood Road” plant in Newport, 3.5 million square foot building fashioned for car production.

“Both bidders over the last few weeks have expressed an interest in using the Delaware plant, but I think it’s premature to say what that might look like,” said Markell.

An auction for Fisker is set for next week.

As the future of the GM plant is uncertain, development at the former Chrysler plant in Newark is booming. The University of Delaware is currently developing the STAR campus, a hub for science, technology and advanced research.

While the innovative campus plans to create jobs of the future, many Newark residents have raised concerns about how some of the proposed projects will effect the environment.

There have been many objections over the proposed data center, a 900,000 square foot power plant facility, however Gov. Markell said as long as everything is done within the environmental code, he welcomes the jobs it will create.

“You put people to work, you’re in compliance with the environmental regulations, that’s worth strongly considering,” said Markell. “But in the end, they have to file their application with the department of natural resources.”

The city of Newark issued a conditional zoning verification for The Data Centers’ building plans last month.

Governor Markell also gave an update on the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries saying a lot of work is being done to have those open sometime this year. However,  legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Delaware isn’t something he sees in the future.

“Colorado and Washington are going forward, everybody from across the country can keep an eye out. I have no idea what the unintended consequences might be,” said Markell. “Maybe there wont be any, maybe there will, but I don’t feel sufficiently confident in understanding what could happen to say it might be a good thing in Delaware.”

Last fall, Delaware became the second state in the country to put gambling online in an effort to stay competitive among the regional growth of casinos.

Markell explained that the state relies on gaming revenues as a “big part” of the budget for years however, it’s become more and more difficult to rely on.

“Until several years ago, neither Pennsylvania nor Maryland had casinos so a lot of people who would come into Delaware to use our venues were from Pennsylvania or Maryland, now those states have them,” said Markell.

A lottery and gaming study commission was established last year to study the state’s casinos and Markell said they’re working to help create ways that will help the facilities stay competitive.

 

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