Working group recommends economic development partnership

The Delaware Economic Development Working Group recommended reducing the duties of the Delaware Economic development Office, but stopped short of scrapping the agency.

The group recommended the formation of a private partnership – the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

According to a release the nonprofit partnership, as recommended by the working group, would “leverage private resources to enhance business recruitment, promote entrepreneurship and innovation, support workforce development and provide market analysis on Delaware’s economy.”

Shortly after taking office in January, Gov. John Carney signed Executive Order #1, creating the working group to recommend a plan for implementing a public-private partnership to improve Delaware’s system of economic development.

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Economic Development Office report

Carney is reviewing the working group’s recommendations.

Public-private partnerships are in place in a number of states, cities and counties.

“Delaware’s economy continues to undergo substantial change, and we should do everything we can to ensure Delaware is competing for the good-paying jobs of the future, preparing our workforce for those jobs, supporting our entrepreneurs and promoting innovation,” Carney stated. “It makes sense to ask the business sector to partner in those efforts. Thank you to the members of the working group for their attention to this important issue. I am committed to working with the General Assembly as we explore a path forward.”

A new partnership, as recommended Friday by the working group, would be designed as a “forward-looking entity to anticipate economic trends – with success of the initiative defined by a set of metrics to include new job creation, higher wages, expanding Delaware’s high-quality talent base, growing Delaware’s tax base, and new business formation.”

Under the group’s recommendations, DEDO would remain responsible for administering the Delaware Strategic Fund, Delaware’s Tourism office, business development initiatives and various additional functions.

The Delaware Prosperity Partnership would be led by a Chief Executive Officer and governed by a 15-member board with members from the public and private sectors. Friday’s report anticipates a total annual budget of $2.5 million – with the private sector funding a target of 40-60 percent of the nonprofit’s operational costs.

“The members of the working group were honored to serve the Governor on this project and brought a lot of energy, commitment and great thinking to the process of developing the final report,” said Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Technical Community College, and co-chair of the Economic Development Working Group. “The literature shows that states that want to bring additional resources and talent to their economic development initiatives in the future utilize public-private partnerships as a mechanism for generating these additional resources and this proposed model is a very solid start for the Governor’s team and the General Assembly to build upon during the weeks and months ahead.”

“I want to thank all the working group members for their active and thoughtful participation,” said Rod Ward, president of Corporation Service Company, and co-chair of the Economic Development Working Group. “Our report outlines a wonderful opportunity for the business community to work more closely with the state on economic development through a public-private partnership. It can be a game changer for economicwith the state on economic development through a public-private partnership.”

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