Carney rolls out partnership plan that would scrap Delaware Economic Development Office

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Delaware Gov. John Carney rolled out a plan for a public-private partnership approach that would dismantle the Delaware Economic Development Office.

According to a release, Carney – who signed Executive Order #1 on his first full day in office to explore a new economic development strategy – will with members of the General Assembly to approve the concept and funding for the public-private entity, as well as a new division of the Department of State to oversee responsibilities for small business development and tourism.

The plan will reorganize Delaware’s economic development efforts by early 2018, the release stated.

An estimated 19 people would be let go at DEDO.

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“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,” said Carney. “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 plan calls for the creation of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership – a jointly funded public-private entity.

According to the release, the partnership would “lead statewide business marketing efforts to recruit and retain businesses, including early-stage technology-based ventures, as well as large employers. The partnership also would provide support for startup businesses, with a focus on high-growth industries, and work closely with employers and education institutions to build and retain a talented workforce in Delaware.

Governor Carney’s plan calls for $2 million in annual state funding for the partnership and $1 million in annual funding from private business. Contributions from the state would remain contingent on an ongoing, annual financial commitment from the private sector.

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.

Governor Carney’s plan also would eliminate the Delaware Economic Development Office and shift responsibilities for small business development and tourism to a new division at the Department of State.

Former DEDO director sees shortcomings with economic development partnership

“This is about positioning Delaware to be competitive for good jobs moving forward,” said Jeff Bullock, Delaware’s Secretary of State. “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.”

The new division at the Department of State will maintain a focus on supporting small business – especially women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses. It will help business owners identify available resources and navigate local, state and federal rules and regulations, the release stated.

Division leaders also will administer Delaware’s publicly-funded economic development incentive programs, such as the Strategic Fund, the Main Streets program, and the Blue Collar Workforce Training grant program.

Governor Carney’s plan builds on recommendations last month from the Economic Development Working Group, a committee created by Executive Order #1 to study a new economic development strategy.

Legislators from both parties praised the plan.

“Even with the strongest economy in this region, Delaware can do better,” said Sen. Jack Walsh, D-Stanton, a member of the Economic Development Working Group. “Bringing leaders from the private sector to the table adds a valuable new perspective to our economic development strategy and will help make our economy more dynamic over time.

“There were two specific things I was looking for in considering this public-private partnership: One was there be a high level of transparency with the intermingling of public and private funds. I was concerned that it be as transparent as possible so the public would have every confidence that things were being done above board,” said Sen.Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown.

“This is not an end, it is a beginning,” said Representative Lyndon Yearick, R-Dover South, a member of the Economic Development Working Group. “Bringing the pragmatic knowledge of entrepreneurs into the process of creating a better business environment is a major step forward. Now we need to do realize the promise this concept holds for creating new, dynamic employment in 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.

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