If you’re invested in the future of Delaware, you should be listening to First State Insights. The weekly podcast, produced by Sean O’Neill, Sarah Pragg and Troy Mix, was launched by a group of colleagues at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA) in April — the same team that launched Recover Delaware, an initiative that aims to help the state emerge from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic in a way that’s healthy, both for its residents and the economy.
We asked cocreator and cohost Troy Mix five questions about the podcast, and what’s next:
1. How are First State Insights and Recover Delaware connected, and what is the intended impact?
My colleagues and I at IPA launched the podcast in mid-April 2020 and Recover Delaware in early July. The two initiatives are closely connected. We’d considered launching a podcast before, but the need to work remotely was the impetus to pivot by launching First State Insights in order to strengthen our connections with Delaware residents, public policymakers, and business and community partners throughout the region. We’re looking to provide listeners with information, perspectives and analysis—”IPA”—on public policy, management, and community and economic development in Delaware. We see this as an opportunity to use our outside voices to showcase the often overlooked efforts of individuals, businesses, and organizations contributing to policymaking and economic development in Delaware, as well as striking up conversations with experts to explore how we might do better as a state in the future.
A big part of Recover Delaware is convening conversations about what the future of the state could and should look like, and the podcast has been a great way to begin to have and share those conversations. In some ways, talking about recovery is unavoidable at the moment, but we’ve also made a point to have interviews focused on topics we see as key to Recover Delaware — from inclusive economic development and innovation to housing and workforce development.
2. What’s your podcast setup?
Sean O’Neill, Sarah Pragg, and I are the production team. We work out our weekly release schedule, brainstorm topics, and line up hosts and interviewees. I’ve been a host for economic development topics, Sean has hosted planning and real estate focused episodes, and our colleagues Julia O’Hanlon and Phil Barnes have also been repeat hosts. We record interviews via Zoom and I apply the finishing sound editing touches in my third floor office, sometimes assisted by my tech-curious 8-year-old son, Henry.
3. Which episode(s) do you think have stood out?
One of my favorite conversations was with Garry Johnson of First Founders Accelerator. It was inspiring to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur and how he’s working to lay the groundwork for underrepresented entrepreneurs following in his path. Another favorite was sharing a beer (virtually distanced over Zoom) with my UD colleague Lindsay Naylor as we talked about craft beverage production in Delaware.
4. Are you looking for experts to appear on the show?
We’re always looking for interesting people to share their perspectives on public policy and economic development topics relevant to Delaware. Right now, I’m seeking to record interviews with business leaders to hear how they’re managing remote work now and thinking about the long-run future of remote work for their companies. I’m also seeking to follow up on my conversation with Garry by interviewing a series of underrepresented entrepreneurs. Lastly, my colleagues at IPA and the UD Center for Community Research and Service see housing as an important focus of recovery efforts, so we’re definitely seeking to engage players in this space.
That’s not a complete list of the types of people we want to talk with, but it’s a start. People interested in appearing on the podcast (or suggesting a guest) should connect with me on Twitter @TDMix or reach out to Sean (email@example.com) or I (firstname.lastname@example.org) via email.
5. Can you share future topics?
The next few weeks will feature a conversation with Dionna Sargent, Vice President of Community Development at Cinnaire, on affordable housing finance in Wilmington; an interview with representatives from Harvey, Hanna & Associates about their history of working in Delaware and their redevelopment efforts in and around Newport; and the next episode in my series of conversations with underrepresented entrepreneurs in Delaware.
New episodes are released every Tuesday. You can check out all of the episodes on the First State Insights SoundCloud.
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