(Photo by Flickr user deldems, used under a Creative Commons license)
On Wednesday, Gov. John Carney announced a new partnership that will realign economic development efforts in Delaware, with one major change being the elimination of the Delaware Economic Development Office, better known as DEDO, and the formation of a new division that will oversee small business development and tourism. DEDO was a player in the Delaware tech scene, backing efforts like the Start It Up Delaware initiative, so it’ll be interesting to see how this shift serves the tech and entrepreneurship scene.
Carney certainly seems to care about the scene: On his first day in office, Carney signed an executive order that created a 14-member working group to establish recommendations for a public-private partnership that could, among other things, support Delaware’s innovation economy. The group, which included tech leaders like the Horn Program’s community engagement liaison Mona Parikh, issued an official report in early April.
This new public-private partnership, estimated to begin in early 2018, is expected to grow the economy and create new jobs by focusing on promoting innovation and supporting entrepreneurs.
“We can and should do more to promote innovation, support our entrepreneurs, build and retain a talented workforce in Delaware, and strategically partner with the private sector to grow the state’s economy,” Carney said in a statement. “This plan will position Delaware to create good-paying jobs, build an entrepreneurial ecosystem and keep our state a competitive place to do business.”
Carney’s new partnership will require the state to contribute $2 million annually, while the private sector will contribute to $1 million. The state will continue to contribute, as long as the private sector is committed.
Another aspect of the plan is the creation of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, a nonprofit that would be funded by both public and private units. The organization, led by a CEO and 15-member board, will be responsible for producing statewide marketing strategies to recruit and retain new businesses, such as technology-based ventures and major corporations. The group will also support startups and work with other agencies to build a talented workforce in the state.
This new division will also oversee public-funded development programs, such as the Strategic Fund, Main Streets program and Blue Collar Workforce Training grant program.
“This is about positioning Delaware to be competitive for good jobs moving forward,” said Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “By strategically partnering with the private sector, we can leverage business resources to strengthen the state’s economic development efforts, while continuing to support small business owners and promote our state’s $3 billion tourism industry.”
Although this public-private partnership is not something state officials and private business owners have used in the past, many welcome the change and look forward to what it means for the future of Delaware.
“This plan offers a real chance to dramatically re-think the way Delaware does business — by leveraging additional resources, and bringing more ideas to the table as we seek to grow our economy, attract talent to our state, and create good-paying jobs for all Delawareans,” said Rod Ward, President of Corporation Service Company and co-chair of the Economic Development Working Group. “Private businesses are ready and willing to be a full partner in this effort, and help create the kind of entrepreneurial, innovation-based economy that will lead to real growth.”