Panel focuses on creating Delaware’s ‘new economy’

Leaders in the political and business community held a panel discussion at the University of Delaware Tuesday focusing on how economic development programs have fostered new real estate projects throughout the state of Delaware.

The Urban Land Institute of Philadelphia’s ‘Fostering Economic Growth for Delaware’s Future’ event at the university’s Star campus featured keynote speaker Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner, and realty and land development professionals.

“Delaware really is at a crossroads right now, from a shift from a corporate manufacturing base to a new economy, and how we’re going to grow into the future of getting good paying jobs and promoting smart growth, “said Jay White, president of Apex Realty Advisors, who moderated the event.

Speakers discussed economic development from a public perspective and an institutional perspective, and how each can foster smart growth.

They also discussed the need for infrastructure, such as bridges and roads, and providing fiber optics for an entrepreneurial economy.

During his speech, Carney said the state needs to approach economic development in a different way as the economy shifts from an industrial one to an entrepreneurial one.

He pointed to his executive order creating a 14-member working group to develop recommendations for implementing a public-private partnership at the Delaware Economic Development Office, as way to cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship and keep businesses in Delaware.

“I think the reality is the jobs and businesses that are growing are in innovation and technology businesses, they’re also in financial services, so we have to be prepared to cultivate jobs from what sector they come by making sure we get these other things right—a tax and regulatory environment, quality of life and education, both at the primary and secondary level, as well and in our higher education system,” Carney said.

He also said the redeveloping industrial sites is a key component to improving economic development.

“We’ve got to work on so many different fronts to make Delaware attractive to business, and I think an important part of that is redeveloping underutilized industrial sites across our state to create employment centers that would provide jobs that can support Delaware families,” Carney said.

Branner said the panel discussion will act as a launching pad to get conversations started about how to utilize land development and improve economic development.

“I think we’ve created a dialogue for people to sink into their heads, thinking about things in a different way,” he said. “We brought out a lot of topics today from a political governmental side and a private side, ‘These are some things we need to address, fix, and focus on if we’re going to continue to foster good land development and smart growth as it relates to creating new jobs.’”

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