(Photo by Twitter user @HornProgram)
The 1,700 newly (or soon-to-be) laid-off DuPonters have four options — or so says Mike Bowman, the associate director for the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships at the University of Delaware (among other things).
The first is to retire.
The second is to find a new job, stat.
"This is a special breed, and we're trying to keep them here."
The third is to start your own business.
The fourth is to take some time to continue your education, either by getting a certificate, an MBA or learning how to teach.
Bowman said UD has put together flyers of a condensed list of programs and degrees that might be of interest to the ex-DuPonters.
A risk associated with all of those options is that all of these scientists and engineers might leave Delaware. Bowman said there’s evidence a number of them are trying to stay, because he’s been getting contacted nonstop about how to find new opportunities. Not that he particularly minds.
“DuPont handpicked them and hired and trained them,” he said. “This is not a generic employee, this is a special breed, and we’re trying to keep them here.”
Frank DeSantis, the manager of the Emerging Enterprise Center, feels the same way.
“From an economic standpoint, the quality of that talent is something you’d certainly want to keep in Delaware,” he said. “These are talented folks.”
Back to those options: Here’s what people in the area, at the moment, are cooking up to help ex-Duponters.
For finding a new job, Bowman said Delaware Bio’s science and tech career fair in March will be helpful, and that he expects at least a couple hundred job offers to come of it. (We also recommend Technical.ly’s own March 24 NET/WORK event for tech jobs.)
Then there’s the prospect of folks starting their own business. On Feb. 16, the Delaware Small Business Development Center, in partnership with the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and Delaware Technology Park, is hosting an event called “What It Really Takes to Become an Entrepreneur.”
Some of the speakers will be former DuPonters who have spun off from the company and licensed products they developed while at DuPont that the company didn’t use. That includes Harry Li, who started Wilmington PharmaTech, and Eric Teather, who cofounded WhiteOptics.
The event will also cover business strategy and development and information on local resources available. The event, from 8 a.m. to noon at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, is free, but attendees must register first.
DeSantis said the New Castle Chamber of Commerce is offering free membership to laid-off DuPont employees for six months so they can attend events and network. He also noted the Chamber’s free monthly event, Open for Business, on every fourth Thursday, is another good small-business networking opportunity.
Bowman said he knows more events will need to be planned, but that this is a start. “I suspect this whole thing is a journey,” he said. “This is not a couple of weeks and we’re done. This thing, it’s going to be a year or more.”
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