Oklahoma Chamber development chief to head Delaware partnership

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The Board of Directors of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership has selected William Kurt Foreman to lead the organization as President and CEO. He will report to DPP’s board. The decision came after a national search.

The Prosperity Partnership was formed as a public/private entity that would handle some of the economic development functions of the former Delaware Economic Development Office.

Foreman currently leads the 16-person economic development team of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, one of the nation’s largest Chambers of Commerce.

Economic development resume

The organization serves a 10-county area, with a population of nearly 1.5 million, a half a million persons larger than the population of Delaware.

Prior to his present position, Foreman served as CEO of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership. Originally from the northeast, Foreman has held senior economic development positions in Pittsburgh and the Washington, D.C. area.

Foreman will take the post in April.

He will initially focus on building the organization and implementing the DPP strategic plan to enhance Delaware’s economy.
“We remain focused every day on making sure that Delaware’s economy is competitive, and that all Delawareans have access to good, high-quality jobs,” said Gov. John Carney, co-chair of DPP. “That’s why we have partnered with the private sector through the Delaware Prosperity Partnership to bring additional resources to our economic development efforts. The bottom line is this: Delaware remains a great location for businesses to put down roots, grow, and create jobs. Kurt has the knowledge and experience necessary to tell our story and help us attract business and jobs to Delaware. We’re thrilled he has accepted this new role, and I look forward to our work together.”

Partnership established in 2017

The DPP was established in 2017 as a nonprofit organization to lead the state’s economic development efforts. The DPP will have a budget of approximately $3.4 million annually, with 38 private sector investors, and will draw upon both state resources and the expertise of many of Delaware’s business leaders. “Kurt has put successful teams together, is highly respected and well known in the field and can hit the ground running,” said Rod Ward, co-chair of DPP, and President and CEO of CSC.

“I’ve been impressed with what I’ve learned during the search process. The state has a great deal to offer companies, both those that start here and others that will choose to locate and grow here going forward. It was the contagious optimism and clear commitment of DPP’s leadership and board that truly sold me on wanting to join the DPP at this important juncture,” said Foreman. “I look forward to returning to the Mid-Atlantic where my family roots are and where I got my start in economic development. My wife and I are excited to get to know the various areas of the state and become active members of the community. I am honored to have this chance to work with both the board and many current and future partners to build something that can make a long-term difference for the citizens of Delaware.”

Foreman is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and holds an MBA from Wake Forest University. He is active in several economic development professional organizations including the International Economic Development Council.

Encouraging innovation

“Given the role of the DPP and its importance to the state, it was critical that we conducted a national search in order to find the best person for the job. We knew that traditional economic development experience would be important, but the ability to expand Delaware entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities was also an important factor. We had a very talented diverse pool of applicants to consider and Kurt was the unanimous choice of the committee. We are thrilled to have him join us as we set a new course for our state”, said Doneene Damon, member of the DPP Search Committee and Director, EVP of Richards, Layton and Finger.

Foreman was namedin 2017 as one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Development Leaders by Consultants Connect.

Foreman will face the challenge of raising the profile of the partnership, which is based in Wilmington.

The partnership was formed after long-running unhappiness with DEDO in legislative and some business circles and according to some critics budget-cutting efforts in Dover.

The organization’s structure has also come under fire for selecting its leader behind closed doors, even though the governor and legislators are part of the board of directors. Others have wondered if the organization is adequately funded when competing with larger states like Pennsylvania and Maryland.

A portion of DEDO’s operations, including tourism, are now under the umbrella of the Delaware Department of State.

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