The Delaware Economic Development office swore in its new director during a small ceremony in Dover Tuesday.
Bernice Whaley, who previously worked as deputy director, will serve as the head of the organization. She has replaced Alan Levin, who stepped down from the role in May.
“I’m excited to work with the governor, I’m excited to see what can be done moving forward,” Whaley said.
“I think we have a lot of challenges, but I think the economy is moving in right direction and we also have a lot of opportunities.”
Gov. Jack Markell, who nominated Whaley for the position, said she has proven success in the industry of economic development.
“She understands econ development, she understands the economic development office, she has a strong track record,” he said. “She has a compelling personal story as someone who succeeded, and started as a small business, and grew a lot bigger.”
Whaley has more than 25 years of retail supply chain experience and several years consulting experience. She began her career at Happy Harry’s Drugs Stores, where she served as vice president of distribution and inventory management. Her boss was Levin.
After the sale of Happy Harry’s to Walgreens, Whaley joined Karabus Management where she worked on consulting engagements for national retailers in the U.S. and Canada.
In June 2008 she joined Levin Stellini & Associates as a principal, providing business and marketing consulting to small businesses in the Mid-Atlantic.
The following year Whaley joined the Delaware Economic Development Office.
“Bernice has an incredible can-do attitude and I think she helps spread that through the office and that has been credited with some of the economic development wins we’ve had,” Markell said.
Whaley said as director she will continue to grow its programs for small businesses that help them strengthen marketing skills.
“A lot of these small businesses can’t afford to do this by their selves,” Whaley said.
She said the biggest challenge for businesses is access to capital, which is something the department is committed to educating businesses on.
“I think the challenge is to ready their selves to get capital and tell their story and prove they’re capital worthy, and they have to do some work,” Whaley said.