Gov. Carney signs economic development legislation

 (Zoë Read/WHYY)

(Zoë Read/WHYY)

Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, signed legislation Monday that revamps the state’s economic development practices.

The move creates a public-private partnership to attract new businesses and boost job growth, and launches a state division to help businesses become successful.

Carney said he wanted to reshape economic development in the state to meet the demands of a changing economy.

“This is truly a partnership between the public and private sector,” he said. “It’s about working together—the only competition it’s about is between Delaware and other states around the country. We’re going to be better and we’re going to be stronger for it.”

In January, Carney signed his first executive order to create a 14-member working group to develop recommendations for implementing a public-private partnership known as the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

The executive order followed recommendations offered last year by Delaware’s Business Roundtable that state government create partnerships with the private sector to address changes in the state’s economy, as companies like DuPont ordered layoffs.

In June, the General Assembly passed the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bryon Short, D-Highland Woods, Sen. Jack Walsh, D-Stanton, Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, and Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Dover.

“There’s bipartisan agreement we need to build a more dynamic diverse economy,” Walsh said before the bill signing.

“We need growth—everywhere from block chain to manufacturing, from Market Street in Wilmington to Walnut Street in Milford—we need to broaden economic opportunities by supporting veteran, women and minority-owned small businesses, and by helping small business tap into new markets beyond our borders. Finally, and most importantly, our workforce is the backbone of our economy, we need to continue to invest in our lab market—that means new training opportunities for workers left behind by a changing economy. It also means partnering employers with our schools, colleges, trade schools and labor unions, and partnering with employers so our kids enter the workforce with the ground running.”

On Monday, Carney signed incorporation paperwork to establish the Partnership, which will recruit for businesses, promote entrepreneurship and innovation and focus its attention on business initiatives that better Delaware’s economy and make it more competitive.

The partnership will be run by a chief executive officer and full-time staff who will work to attract and market startup and technology-focused businesses.

The partnership has already received funding commitments of more than $1 million per year over three years.

The next steps are appointing a board for the partnership, which will be co-chaired by Carney. Carney said he envisions the CEO as someone with broad experience, who understands the entrepreneurial economy and knows Delaware.

The legislation also paves the way for a new Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism to support small business owners, entrepreneurs and minority-owned businesses, eliminating the need for the Delaware Economic Development Office.

The bill signing took place at the Delaware Innovation Space at the DuPont Experimental Station research campus. The company is an entrepreneurial incubator that’s also a public-private partnership with the state, DuPont and the University of Delaware

“The use of the space here will be more indicative of how we will grow our economy in the future, with startup companies, entrepreneurial economy, science and innovation companies, but not so much a build on a big corporation like DuPont, which today probably has fewer than 5000 employees, where when I was a kid maybe 30, 35,000 employees,” Carney said.

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