Viewpoint: Are there #OptionsinDE for young professionals?

Delaware leaders recently submitted their pitch to attract Amazon’s new headquarters. While the details of the 103-page pitch are largely undisclosed, the accompanying pitch video offers a simple message: “There are #OptionsinDE.”

Yet, in a state that is attracting retirees and losing millennials at high rates, a similar message about options in Delaware is rarely communicated to Delaware’s younger demographic. This leaves many — some transplants and some lifelong Delawareans — wondering: Are there #OptionsinDE for young professionals?

After investing two 14-hour days each of the last 10 months to learn from more than 130 leaders of various industries in Delaware through the Leadership Delaware program, we have an answer to that question: There are unparalleled opportunities for young professionals in Delaware.

Delaware offers opportunity for greater access to high-level executives and for faster professional growth. It was evident in the stories we heard from Richards, Layton & Finger Executive Vice President Doneene Damon, Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan, Synchrogenix CEO Kelly Kendle, and Secretary of Health and Social Services Kara Odom Walker about their path to the top of their respective organizations.

There is significant opportunity for entrepreneurship in Delaware. This was evident in our conversation with Leadership Delaware alumnus Bryan Tracy, whose biotechnology company White Dog Labs is attracting investment from Silicon Valley and from the U.S Department of Energy. It was clear in our conversations with several leaders of thriving, family-owned businesses in Sussex County.

The possibilities were palpable in our conversation with millennial architect and entrepreneur Robert Herrera whose companies The Mill and WhyFly are growing rapidly in Wilmington. If you are a young entrepreneur (nonprofit or for-profit), we learned that assets like the Longwood Foundation, Delaware Community Foundation, the University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship Center, 1313 Innovation, and Start It Up Delaware can help you thrive in Delaware.

Young professionals looking for an environment abundant in talent and innovation should look no further than Delaware. During the program we interacted with leaders of numerous Delaware companies at the cutting-edge nationally and worldwide. Wilmington-based Incyte Corp. is ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most innovative companies.

There are prime opportunities for involvement in politics and policy in Delaware. People like 32-year old Sen. Anthony DelCollo (a Leadership Delaware alumnus), 32-year old Mayor of Milford Bryan Shupe, Governor Carney’s Office Policy Director Albert Shields, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, Director of the Division of Small Business, Development and Tourism Cerron Cade, and Chief Deputy Attorney General Lakresha Roberts (another Leadership Delaware alumna) as examples of young leaders at the forefront of creating solutions to Delaware challenges.

Delaware certainly has more work to do to create an ecosystem and environment that is attractive to young professionals. But if you are frustrated that Delaware’s nightlife and social scene is not more like Philly, D.C., or NYC, here is a suggestion: Visit those places — they’re easily accessible by train. Then make time to appreciate a Delaware Shakespeare production, a concert at the Queen, the Constitution Yards Beer Garden in Wilmington, the Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, Dolce Bakery and Coffee Shop in Milford, Delaware’s lovely beaches, and the many other existing opportunities you might be missing.

And after that, get ready to work and build in a state where young professionals can and do make a
major difference.

Atnre Alleyne, Executive Director — Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now

Michael Dejos, Medication Safety Officer — Nemours/Alfred I du Pont Hospital for Children

Aiste Foreman, Director of Advanced Services — Trinity Logistics Inc.

Faith Meisinger-Petit, Director of Customer Service — CSC

Kate Rudolph, Corporate Director, Surgical Services — Christiana Care Health System

David Skoranski, Assistant Public Defender — Delaware Public Defender’s Office

Stephenie Tatman, Audit Manager —
State of Delaware

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