Business Roundtable rolls out report calling for political leaders to focus on prosperity and growth

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The Delaware Business Roundtable released a report on Tuesday calling for a “comprehensive, fact-based framework for Delaware’s political leaders to set a bold course toward prosperity and growth.”

“Delaware must fundamentally prioritize and invest in long-term economic development, including a vibrant, supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs, workforce development, and a healthy private sector in the face of intense competition for jobs, talent, and capital,” said Delaware Business Roundtable Chair Brian DiSabatino, CEO of EDiS Company, Wilmington.

The Delaware Business Roundtable engaged TIP Strategies,to engage the public in producing the Delaware Investment Agenda. TIP Strategies also examined Delaware’s economic health over time compared to other states in the region and featured examples of successful initiatives and programs other states and regions have enacted to tackle similar challenges.

DiSabatino praised the state’s advantages. “All of these things contribute to an economic strength and a quality of life that makes the First State a great place to live, work, and play,” DiSabatino said. But these valuable assets require strategic action to foster future growth.”

A chief vulnerability cited in the report is Delaware’s declining labor force participation rate. Delaware ranks 40th in labor force participation.

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  • Create a statewide science and technology strategy to guide Delaware’s efforts to foster and promote its innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure.
  • Redefine and retool the Division of Small Business to increase its outreach and impact on the state’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • Develop robust storytelling about successes and assets to attract new talent and investment and foster an entrepreneurial culture.
  • Create new incentives to attract new investment and entrepreneurs to Delaware.
  • Expand technology transfer and commercialization opportunities at Delaware universities.
  • Support equitable investment in early childhood education to increase access and improve outcomes for children in the state.
  • Restructure the state workforce development system to reduce redundancy, enhance funding, and improve alignment with the business community’s needs.
  •  Support workforce housing development in Delaware to improve availability and affordability across housing types.
  • Establish innovative training programs and nontraditional training delivery methods to help Delawareans find employment opportunities in high-growth, high-demand, and/or emerging industries.
  • Build industry-led sector partnerships supported by education, workforce providers, and economic development organizations to strengthen Delaware’s talent pipeline.
  • Establish a workforce task force to streamline communication with new and existing businesses and identify opportunities to meet workforce needs.
  • Make Delaware more competitive for talent attraction by increasing job resources and information for potential new residents.
  • Advocate for increased support for returning citizens to ensure they can access work opportunities.
  • Establish a nonpartisan, independent Delaware Futures Council to inform and advise Delaware’s leaders on the fundamental challenges impacting the state’s long-term economic competitiveness.
  • Identify and prepare large scale commercial and industrial sites for future development.
  • I support the passage of state legislation requiring state agencies and counties to expedite the review of certain types of development projects that are consistent with local land use planning and informed by public input.
  • Support local communities in developing authentic and brandable places that attract and retain young adults and leverage the synergies to live, learn, work, and play.
  • Request that the State of Delaware commission a report that examines how successful the state is pursuing and securing all available federal funding opportunities.

Roundtable executive director Robert Perkins said a rededication toward prosperity and growth is possible because state leaders have done it before.

“The Delaware Prosperity Partnership is a core example of a unifying, invigorating economic development effort. With funding from both the public and private sectors, the DPP has become one of the nation’s most respected economic development organizations and has a successful record of retaining and attracting jobs and investment in the state,” Perkins said. “It’s time to evolve and build on that success.”

“The decisions we make collectively in the coming months and years will determine whether and how Delaware continues to set a course for excellence and prosperity or if we begin to backslide,” DiSabatino said. “It is imperative that we prioritize, invest, and look ahead. The goal of the Delaware Investment Agenda is to turn Delaware’s focus toward long-term investments to become an even stronger global magnet for leading-edge technologies, talent and investment.”

The roundtable, comprised of leading businesses in the state strikes a moderate tone when compared to other public policy groups – the Caesar Rodney Institute and A Better Delaware, which focus on what they view as a poor business climate and causes such as opposition to offshore wind projects and the gross receipts tax (a tax on sales paid by businesses).

At the same time, a broad segment of the business community is worried that the growing number of progressive Democrats are focusing on social issues and increased regulation rather than economic growth.

There has also been more “not in my backyard” opposition to new projects, such as distribution centers. In the past, other jurisdictions have used such sentiments to paint Delaware as a poor choice for relocation or expansion.

Also Delaware has seen virtually zero growth in its gross state product of goods and services

Click here for the full report.

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