Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, signed his first executive order Wednesday to boost economic development in the state.
The order creates a 14-member working group to develop recommendations for implementing a public-private partnership at the Delaware Economic Development Office, known as DEDO.
Carney said it will address a Delaware’s changing economy, which has lost its middle class jobs at industrial facilities, and at companies like DuPont, which has laid off hundreds of employees over the years.
“We need to do things a little bit differently to incentivize and create an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.
Last year Delaware’s Business Roundtable recommended state government create partnerships with the private sector to address these changes.
The new working group will consist of legislators, business leaders, the director of DEDO, the governor’s policy director, and leaders from the non-profit, higher education and labor sectors.
Members will determine how the government and private sector can attract new companies to the state, create a strong entrepreneurial community and support innovation.
Carney said he envisions a jointly-funded agency with priorities established by the public and private sectors, and outreach and recruitment opportunities.
He said the working group would determine if the new partnership could more effectively take on the current roles of DEDO. Carney did not say exactly what the agency’s future role will be.
“DEDO has done incredible work recently and through the years,” he said. “This is an effort not to criticize the work currently being done, but to look at a way to do it better and more effectively and more efficiently, and with buy in from the private sector.”
The working group will meet next month, and report back to Carney by April 7th.
Bernice Whaley, director of DEDO, will continue in her role while the working group completes its work.
Legislators involved in the initiative said it will keep Delaware competitive, and boost the economy.
“Delaware has come a long way since the recession, but if we’re going to continue to add jobs faster than any state in the region, we need to stay ahead of them,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David B. McBride.
“That means rethinking the way our Economic Development Office engages with our state’s vibrant business and entrepreneurial communities in a way that allows us to leverage resources and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford said he agrees.
“I grew up in a community where a single company, the DuPont Nylon plant, employed thousands of people. Now, most of those jobs are gone,” he said. “Reassessing our state’s strengths and weaknesses, and adopting policies to capitalize on the former, will ultimately help us foster an environment in which Delaware businesses thrive and new employers are drawn here.”