The case for looking back at 2017

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Happy New Year,

In early December, I decided not to do a year in review piece.

But on reflection, it was clear that 2017 proved to be a pivotal year for Delaware business and required a look back.

After a number of regulatory delays overseas, the merger of DuPont and Dow was completed in 2017, marking at least the symbolic end of a company that managed to thrive for more than two centuries.

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Delaware could take some comfort in the fact that two of the three businesses that will be spun off when the spin-offs take place in the next 18 months or so will be based in Delaware.

We also saw the rise of Chemours as the company, propelled by a rising stock price, opted to build a new R&D center at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus and keep its headquarters at the DuPont Building in downtown Wilmington.

Delaware, south of the canal, continued to see population growth, but shared the challenge facing northern Delaware – generating good jobs that do not require an advanced education.

Delaware is not the first state to face such challenges.

To our north, Massachusetts saw the decline of its economic mainstays, first at textile mills and later when mini computers fell victim to technology and a global economy.

But a strong education system, entrepreneurial research universities and a high quality of life helped Boston and the state move toward a more diverse technology-based economy. In 2017, the Bay State economy was outperforming the nation.

On the lower tax side, parts of Texas are also seeing a turnaround, this time because of a more diverse economy that is not as dependent on the oil business.

Moving into 2018, the hope is that Delaware can find its way to a similar path. Some of the pieces are in place. The biggest challenge is building an entrepreneurial mindset in the post-DuPont era.

While the waning days of 2017 were relatively quiet, the passage of the tax bill and other events led to a fair amount of news, with about two dozen posts published during the past week and a half. Check out the Business Now website to catch up.

Here’s to a great 2018. Your thoughts are always welcome. Simply hit reply and type away. – Doug Rainey, publisher.

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