U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • SOTU Analysis: Creating clean energy jobs

    State of the UnionIn last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama discussed how developing clean, affordable, alternative energy right here in America would create jobs and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He said “nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy.”

    In a strategy memo that accompanied the speech, President Obama laid out his plan in a bit more detail.  This included reiterating his goal of ensuring that "by 2035, 80 percent of the nation’s electricity will come from clean sources.” He also made clear that he would help spur clean energy innovation by utilizing the purchasing power of the federal government and by building 10 gigawatts of renewable power on public lands.    

    Clean sources of energy can be anything from wind, solar and hydropower to nuclear and clean coal. Senator Coons has zeroed in on advanced biofuels as a clean source of energy that can benefit Delaware families and businesses, and is taking action to advance this promising opportunity.

    Another key element of the President’s address was his focus on tax credits as a crucial incentive to help spur new energy development and create jobs. Chris has been hard at work on this idea since he first joined the Senate. In fact, one of the tax credits President Obama cited in his address is actually from the first piece of legislation Chris authored, the Job Creation Through Innovation Act.

    Another point of agreement is on energy efficiency. Chris has made this a priority, because as President Obama said last night, “the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy.” The President urged Congress to send him legislation to help manufacturers eliminate energy waste and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. This would serve as a follow up to a program the Administration launched in December, where the government would worked with private sector partners, including two from Delaware, to renovate federal and private sector buildings.  Chris is a strong supporter of these programs, which can help create new jobs for Delawareans.

    Click here to read more about Chris’ work on clean energy innovation.

  • President Obama launches Office of Manufacturing Policy

    Once the backbone of our economy and pathway to the middle class, America’s manufacturing industry has particularly struggled in the current economic climate. With factories closing around the nation and thousands of workers laid off, Senator Coons and a coalition of leaders have voiced their support for efforts to rehabilitate the manufacturing industry and get Americans back to work.

    That’s why Chris was pleased Monday about President Obama’s announcement that he was creating a new Office of Manufacturing Policy that would be part of the National Economic Council at the White House. The office, which will be co-chaired by Secretary John Bryson and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, will work across federal agencies to coordinate the execution of manufacturing programs and the development of manufacturing policy.

    “At this make-or-break time for the middle class and our economy, we need a strong manufacturing sector that will put Americans back to work making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America,” President Obama said.  “I am grateful that Secretary Bryson and Gene Sperling will head up this office to continue our efforts to revitalize this great American industry and fight for American workers and jobs.”

    Since being sworn-in to the Senate, Chris has fought to strengthen our manufacturing industry and create jobs for American and Delawarean manufacturing workers. Specifically, Chris devoted his Senate maiden speech to manufacturing and the first bill he introduced contained measures that would jumpstart domestic manufacturing and create conditions to help businesses grow and create high-quality, high-paying middle-class jobs.

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ fist bill, the “Job Creation Through Innovation Act.”

    Click here to watch Senator Coons deliver his maiden speech.

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ work to create jobs for Delawareans. 

  • Senator Coons checks out solar-powered farm

    Senator Coons looking at solar panels on T.S. Smith & Sons farm.

    BRIDGEVILLE, Del. — In a visit Tuesday to the T.S. Smith & Sons’ farm in Bridgeville — the only solar-powered Century Farm in Delaware — Chris reiterated his commitment to helping small agricultural businesses integrate renewable energy into their operations. Senator Coons has introduced legislation that would extend the federal renewable-energy program that financed part of the T.S. Smith & Sons solar project.

    “T.S. Smith & Sons is a pioneer in sustainable agriculture and a leader in Delaware’s farming community,” Chris said. “I’m sure Thomas Sterling Smith would be proud of the investments his great-grandsons have made to ensure that their farm remains a profitable, sustainable, and environmentally sound business. That’s why I feel so strongly about supporting the extension of the successful 1603 Treasury Grants Program to help businesses finance alternative energy resources. Without this kind of program, farms like these would have much greater difficulty financing clean energy investments.”

    First introduced as part of the American Recovery Act of 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department’s 1603 Program is used to reimburse eligible businesses for a portion of the cost of installing specified energy projects. A one-year extension of the 1603 Program is a key part of Senator Coons’ Job Creation Through Innovation Act, which he introduced in April.

    After meeting with representatives from Solair Energy at the University of Delaware’s 2010 Agriculture Week, the Smith family decided it wanted to pursue investments in solar energy on its farm. In May 2011, the farm publicly unveiled 178 ground-mounted Solair solar panels that were manufactured at Motech Solar’s plant in Newark. The solar panels produce around 43 kw of power, drastically reducing the farm’s $25,000 annual electric bill.

    “The fact that T.S. Smith & Sons is running on solar panels that were manufactured in Delaware is a great testament to the strength of the renewable energy sector in our state,” Chris said. “I look forward to continuing my work with members of Delaware’s energy community to encourage more businesses powered by clean energy to set-up shop in the First State and bring good-quality jobs to our communities.”

    Founded in 1907 by Thomas Sterling Smith, T.S. Smith & Sons is an 800-acre farm that grows a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, selling them to retail locations and restaurants in the surrounding area. The current, fourth-generation owners are: Matt, Charlie and Tom Smith and Susan Hayes. In addition to solar power, the farm makes a conscious effort to employ technologies that conserve water and soil.

    Click here to learn what’s new at T.S. Smith & Sons.

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ work for Delaware’s agriculture community.

  • Senator Coons hosts roundtable on high-tech jobs

    Senator Coons hosts innovation roundtable

    NEWARK — Senator Coons hosted a roundtable discussion with more than a dozen participants from local cutting-edge research companies on Thursday. The 90-minute discussion, which was held at the Delaware Technology Park in Newark, was the second of three roundtables Chris is hosting this month to engage Delawareans in a conversation about job creation in the First State.

    “I sincerely hope that the information flow that took place today was fruitful for all involved,” Chris said. “I know I learned a great deal by listening to what local manufacturing industry leaders had to say about hiring and maintaining a skilled-workforce to help keep their companies solvent. If we’re going to jumpstart the economy, we have to continue to support the manufacturing community right here at home." 

    Chris encouraged a dialogue that focused on what’s good about doing business in Delaware and what can be done to make the First State an even better place for companies to lay down their roots. Chris feels strongly that once businesses come to Delaware, it is up to all levels of government to support them and keep them here. Among topics discussed were targeted tax credits, improved access to capital, “wet” lab space for biotechnology research, patent reform, trade enforcement, and stronger investments in math and science education.

    In April, Chris introduced his first bill, the Job Creation Through Innovation Act, to jumpstart domestic manufacturing and help innovative small business grow by:

    • Expanding, simplifying and making permanent the Research & Development Tax Credit
    • Creating a new Small Business Innovation Tax Credit
    • Creating a new Domestic Manufacturing Tax Credit
    • Extending the 1603 Treasury Grants Program
    • Investing in the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit

    Chris will host a third roundtable on August 31 to discuss community-based small businesses.

  • Senator Coons applauds White House’s new manufacturing initiative

    Today in Pittsburgh, President Obama introduced the new Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) initiative to spur American manufacturing, drawing praise from Senator Coons and others in Congress who have been pushing for measures to increase our competitiveness and strengthen our manufacturing base.

    This initiative will encourage private industries, universities, and the federal government to work together to invest in emerging technologies that will create high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.

    “Americans must work together across all sectors to ensure that our country remains the leader in innovation,” Chris said.  “The federal government has a long history of partnering with industry and academia to invest in the research and development of innovative technologies.  I applaud the President’s leadership and look forward to seeing the AMP in action.” 

    The President’s plan, which leverages existing programs and proposals, will invest more than $500 million to jumpstart this effort.  Investments will be made in several areas, including national security industries, next-generation robotics, increasing the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes, and developing technologies that will dramatically reduce the time required to design, build, and test manufactured goods.

    Delaware is emerging as a regional center for advanced manufacturing, and initiatives like AMP have the potential to benefit innovative businesses throughout the state and, in turn, lead to job creation for Delawareans. 

    Chris strongly supports the AMP’s goal for developing infrastructure and establishing shared facilities that will allow small and mid-sized manufactures to innovate and compete.  Since being sworn-in, Chris has been a strong advocate for emerging and innovative companies, which were the focus of his first piece of legislation, the Job Creation Through Innovation Act

    Among the manufacturers included in AMP are Honeywell and Procter and Gamble, and it will be led in part by Andrew Liveris, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Dow Chemical, which operates an electronic chip production plant in Newark, Delaware, that employs over 600 people.

    Click here for more information about the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

  • Senator Coons hosts briefing on clean energy innovation’s role in American manufacturing

    Senator Coons greets the panel prior to the event commencing.

    Today, Senator Coons was the keynote speaker at the “Clean Energy: Perspectives on Innovation” briefing in Washington.  The second of a two-part series Chris’ office is co-hosting with the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the luncheon explored the roles that the private sector, universities, venture capital, federal and state governments, and other vested interests play in facilitating an economic environment that incentivizes the growth of clean energy in the United States.

    In Chris’ speech, he emphasized the correlation between manufacturing and innovation, stating that “manufacturing is only sustainable if it is tied to innovation.”  Chris referenced his first piece of legislation, the Job Creation through Innovation Act, which provides federal incentives to grow America’s manufacturing sector by expanding, simplifying, and making permanent the research and development tax credit.

    Chris went on to applaud Bloom Energy’s recent decision to open a facility in Newark, which will create clean energy jobs for hundreds in the surrounding area.  This deal underscores Chris’ belief that, in order to gain job opportunities and help balance the economy, we need to embrace innovation.

    A panel presentation followed Chris’ remarks.  The presenters include Josh Freed, the Vice President for the Clean Energy Program at Third Way; the University of Michigan’s Office of Technology Transfer Program Manager Megan Reichert-Kral; DuPont’s Research and Development Director Bill Provine; and William Lese of Braemar Energy Ventures.

  • News Journal voices support for Senator Coons' jobs bill

    Delaware's largest newspaper, the News Journal, on Saturday published an editorial voicing support for the Job Creation Through Innovation Act -- Senator Coons' first bill, which he introduced last week.

    "By increasing the R&D tax credit from 14 percent to 20 percent and making it refundable, the "little guy" has an incentive to be innovative in markets ruled by bigger companies," the paper wrote.

    "Being able to quickly hire workers to design products and conduct quality assurance testing also recycles some of that tax credit back into local economies."

    Click here to read the complete editorial.

  • Questions and answers about the Job Creation Through Innovation Act

    Senator Coons' first bill, the Job Creation Through Innovation Act, will help jumpstart domestic manufacturing and create conditions to help businesses grow and create high-quality, high-paying middle-class jobs. Here are answers to seven key questions about the bill:

    Q:       What will this bill to do help Delaware?

    The Job Creation Through Innovation Act will help Delaware businesses innovate, create jobs and stay globally competitive.  First, it increases and makes permanent the research and development tax credit.  It creates a Domestic Manufacturing Credit to provide an incentive for companies to invest and create jobs here at home. Right now many new, small businesses are ineligible for the R&D tax credit because they aren’t profitable yet, so this bill creates a new Small Business Innovation credit to provide tax relief to these businesses.  Finally, it extends two programs created by the Recovery Act designed to promote clean energy technology and investment. These incentives were heavily used and critical to energy project developers and Delaware manufacturers, as well as to the production of clean and green energy, and the expansion and retrofit of clean and green production capacity.   

    Q:       Why is a permanent R&D tax credit needed?

    The R&D tax credit has been temporarily extended 14 times since it was enacted 30 years ago and it is currently set to expire at the end of the year.  This lack of permanence is problematic.  Many R&D projects have multi-year planning horizons.  If firms aren’t assured they will benefit from the credit over the expected life of an R&D project, they are unlikely to include it in their determination of annual R&D budgets.  This renders the credit essentially irrelevant, given its purpose is to incentivize firms to invest more in R&D than they otherwise would have.  

    Q:       Why is research and development important to the U.S.?

    The formula for our economic success has long been the unstoppable combination of an innovative citizenry and investment in cutting-edge research.  This is what generates companies that invent new products, often high-tech and research-driven products, and, along with these, create skilled jobs right here in the United States. Many of these jobs are in the manufacturing sector.  According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the average manufacturing worker in our country earned roughly twenty-five percent more than workers in all other sectors – that’s over seventy-two thousand dollars last year, including pay and benefits, while the average non-manufacturing worker earned less than fifty-nine thousand.  Manufacturing jobs, created as a result of R&D investment and innovation, mean higher wages and better benefits. 

    Q:       How does the Domestic Manufacturing Credit work?  How would you target this at manufacturers?

    The provision incentivizes keeping jobs in the United States by increasing the existing R&D tax credit for companies that produce most of their goods domestically.  The Domestic Manufacturing Credit would increase incrementally to reward a higher percentage of domestic production – an additional 2 percentage points for 50% to 60% of sales from domestically-produced goods; up to a 10 percentage point increase for companies with 90% to 100% of their receipts from domestic production.  For example, a company with 100 percent domestic production that would normally receive a 20% R&D tax credit would receive a 30% credit under this proposal.  

    Q:       Why does the legislation include a new Small Business Innovation Credit?

    Under current law, the R&D tax credit is non-refundable, which is to say that only profitable firms can benefit from credit.  This poses a special problem for small, fledgling research-intensive firms.  In recent decades, numerous commercially successful technological innovations have originated with such firms.  Many of these firms spend substantial sums on R&D during their first few years, despite experiencing large financial losses.  For this reason, the legislation would create a new small business innovation credit by allowing firms with 500 employees or less to claim a new, refundable R&D credit.  

    Q:       What Delaware businesses could benefit from this proposal? 

    Delaware firms, both small and large, that invest significantly in R&D in the United States and create high-paying jobs associated with that R&D stand to benefit the most from this legislation.  Delaware’s agricultural, biotech, chemical, energy and manufacturing sectors rely on the R&D tax credit to grow and create jobs.     

    Q:       There are a number of energy tax incentives in place, why are the two energy incentives so important to Delaware?

    It is important to send a longer more certain signal if we are going to reduce our dependence on fossil resources by producing clean energy in the U.S.  The renewable energy production and advanced energy manufacturing tax credits were critical to keeping clean energy projects and jobs in place in the last several years.  The incentives for in the Act work in tandem to send that signal. 

    During the meltdown, the tax equity market was frozen which threatened to sideline thousands of renewable projects.  Through the Treasury Grants Program for renewables, Delaware companies have been able to support dozens of solar and wind projects.  At the same time, Senator Coons wants the U.S. to be a leader in sourcing products for renewable energy from domestic manufacturers.  Thus, the advanced energy manufacturing credit supports a range of clean tech manufacturing projects such as building materials, wind turbine towers and blades, solar equipment, batteries and many other clean tech projects. 

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