A new approach to economic development

    The state’s Economic Development Office is changing the way it helps Delaware businesses.

    The state’s Economic Development Office is changing the way it helps Delaware businesses.

    Governor Jack Markell and Economic Development Director Alan Levin have announced a more general approach that focuses on helping all businesses instead of specializing in certain industries or “clusters.”

    “We’re looking at everything and anything that is out there to bring to Delaware and help grow Delaware,” Levin said.

    For years DEDO’s focus was on manufacturing, financial services and agriculture, industries that served the state well in the 1980’s and 90’s, Levin said.

    But with the recent economic downturn those same industries have taken a beating. Within the last year Delaware has lost both of its auto plants and the credit card industry is not what it used to be. That’s why, Levin says, DEDO needs to be more entrepreneurial.

    “We need to look at small and mid-size businesses that are out there as opposed to just putting our eggs into one big basket,” Levin said. “Our biggest concern today is retaining the jobs that we have. If we can’t retain what we have it’s very difficult to build new jobs.”

    Instead of specializing in certain sectors, Levin says his staff will be trained to handle all business inquiries and needs.

    “When somebody calls with a question we don’t want anyone to say that’s not in my job description,” he said. “We want people to be able to answer and say we can get you what you need here. The only acceptable answer in Delaware will be ‘yes’ coming out of DEDO. ‘No’ is not an acceptable answer.”

    Levin expects most of the changes to be in place by early August.

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