Professional Development
Builders Conference / Philly Tech Week / workforce development

Inside Delaware’s ambitions to become a vibrant, fun hub that draws in tech workers

Only a blunt approach to its weaknesses will turn the state’s reputation around, Tech Council executive director Zakiyyah Ali said.

Zakiyyah Ali speaks at the 2024 Builders Conference. ( Quinn)

This story is a part of’s Thriving Tech Communities Month. See the full 2024 editorial calendar.

Delaware was well-represented at the 2024 Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast, from attendees to a prominent speaker.

At the Builders Conference on Thursday, small ecosystems took center stage at panels and lightning talks like “How do innovation ecosystems talk about their strengths and adapt to their weaknesses?” It featured Zakiyyah Ali, executive director of the Tech Council of Delaware, along with ecosystem builders from Birmingham, Alabama, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Arlington, Virginia.

The gist: In order to grow, small ecosystems need to be honest about what their strengths are, but also about where they may fall short. For Delaware, that means focusing on workforce development and being real about not having a cool tech hub reputation.

Delaware wants to sell itself as a fun place to work

The Tech Council used’s Delaware State of the Tech Economy report, which had its inaugural release in December 2023 to help identify what’s working and what’s not through data and analysis.

“There are three things that can help you, as a leader, be honest about the realities of your strengths and weaknesses,” Ali said. “Data, both quantitative and qualitative, having an objective, unbiased, external assessment and [having a] comparative analysis to both peers and competitors.”

In the State of the Economy report, Delaware earned a C grade in the technologist community category, meaning there’s room to improve. The state lacked long term investments in its entrepreneurial community, according to the report.

In response, the Tech Council plans to move forward with efforts to make Delaware a more vibrant, fun place for tech workers by launching Tech Thursday events in 2024. These events might be happy hours, bowling at Wilma’s, or hanging on the Riverfront. Hopefully, that’ll build the young, hip vibe Delaware needs to draw tech workers in, according to Ali.

“We know that that’s a weakness, and we’re addressing it,” Ali said.

Watch a clip of Ali’s talk here:

Companies: Tech Council of Delaware
Series: Thriving Tech Communities Month

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