When I worked for the county I was instructed that any industry or business I brought into the county asking for financial aid should pay at least $10 an hour and have individual benefits such as insurance.

I was a little miffed because the county government was among the lowest paying in the 3 counties averaging around $7.50 an hour. That was almost 15 years ago. The state was just as bad in asking for companies with full benefits as they were hiring casual-seasonal people at hourly wages and no benefits.

Although $10 an hour was a high-end wage back then, just to show how bad the economy is now, the state is willing to throw millions at companies to have them locate in DE paying that wage and NO benefits.

I had an interesting conversation with Senator Robert Venables Monday night at a Christmas dinner and he brought up the subject of the Wilmington Riverfront wanting state funds to build a hotel.

He has expressed displeasure as chairman of the Bond Committee which lets these funds when the subject came up a few months ago, and I had a letter published in the News Journal opposing the use of those funds for the project.

The state has formed a newly created New Jobs Infrastructure Fund to help lure businesses to the state, and it is from this fund the hotel partners have applied.

Venables argues the use of the funds is not what the fund is supposed to support. He says $1.2 million of the $2 million grant would be used on the building stating, “the fund created was not supposed to be for the building itself. Venables sits on the new committee.

The building requires 300-ft deep pilings that would support the foundation, piling caps and grade beams, the application says.  Venables says the pilings “are beyond the scope of the fund.”

Venables is also concerned with the high unoccupied occupancy rate in the city, so why add another hotel?

The hotel would employ 81 unskilled or semi-skilled people, five skilled workers and 17 professional employees, two years after the grant is awarded. That number would rise to 123 full-time employees after 3 years of which, 102 would be unskilled or semi-skilled.

The wage for the majority of the jobs would be $10 an hour, not even close to a decent living. I would imagine the unskilled or semi-skilkled jobs would be without benefits.

But as with most hig-profile committeees, Southern Delaware gets the short end of the stick. Venables is the lone wolfe from below the canal, the other 4 members live in New Castle County.

The news release says the commitee would review the application “with a fine-tooth comb.” Yeah, one with a lot of the teeth missing.  The only decending vote will probably come from Venables.


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