Rich Heffron’s big night

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Morning everyone,

Monday night, Joe Biden  offered a  thunderous defense of the art of compromise and blue collar liberal values.

But a big part of the annual meeting of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce turned out to be a tribute to outgoing President Rich Heffron.

The accolades  continued throughout the night and had their light-hearted moments  as  the than 1,000 in attendance learned about Heffron’s  less-than-legendary golf skills.

Heffron, the long-time number two at the Chamber and a friend of the former Vice President, agreed to lead the organization at a pivotal time. 

He took over  after a brief and tumultuous stint by a former New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce president who did not hide her lack of enthusiasm for the peculiarities and business  culture  of the  First State.

Heffron, who will retire later this year,  will  be best remembered for two  recent accomplishments.

  • The overhaul of the Economic Development Office and the formation of the public-private Delaware Prosperity Partnership.
  • Updates to the Coastal Zone Act that allow redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites that are often unfit for other uses.

Both initiatives are in their early stages and their success is not assured.

My questions center on  whether the private-public Prosperity Partnership’s funding is adequate and if open meetings exemptions set a negative note  in a state not  known for transparency. 

But Heffron and the Chamber board correctly  believed that business as usual was no longer an option. It is also clear Heffron’s relationship with a cautious Gov. John Carney helped move things forward.

The heavily Republican membership of the State Chamber was not always comfortable with Heffron, a moderate Democrat. But Heffron, for many year’s the Chamber’s lobbyist,  was on the right track in working with the governor and both sides of the aisle in building consensus in a polarized political environment.

Along the way, he managed to keep the State Chamber relevant.  – Doug Rainey, publisher.

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