Carney plans to close economic development agency

Gov. John Carney announced today his plan to close the Delaware Economic Development Office to make way for a new public-private group called the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. The nonprofit will work to attract and retain new talent and business in the state with a focus on large employers and early-stage tech companies.

“We can and should do more to promote innovation, support our entrepreneurs, build and retain a talented workforce in Delaware, and strategically partner with the private sector to grow the state’s economy,” said Carney. “This plan will position Delaware to create good-paying jobs, build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and keep our state a competitive place to do business.”

The plan follows an extended review of DEDO by a working group of business leaders, academics, and public officials. Carney appointed the group on his first full day in office.

The group released a report last month that proposed creating a public-private partnership while also keeping DEDO in place to handle small business support and workforce development, among other functions.

“This should not be seen simply as an effort to privatize statewide economic development in Delaware,” the report stated. “Privatization is not what the working group is recommending.”

This plan reflects a more aggressive approach: If approved by the legislature, DEDO will effectively become a new division of the Department of State handling small business development and tourism.

“This is about positioning Delaware to be competitive for good jobs moving forward,” said Jeff Bullock, Delaware’s Secretary of State. “By strategically partnering with the private sector, we can leverage business resources to strengthen the state’s economic development efforts, while continuing to support small business owners and promote our state’s $3 billion tourism industry.”

Carney’s plan calls for $2 million in annual state funding and $1 million in annual funding from the private sector. The public money would hinge on private support. The partnership will be led by a 15-member board with members from both sectors.

Carney aims to complete the reorganization by early 2018, pending approval by the legislature.

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