by Mark DiMaio
Fantastic work by Delaware Economic Development Office, City of Wilmington and many others in securing Chemours as a Delaware headquartered company. It was no small feat, keeping the approximately 800 jobs in Wilmington. By some estimations, losing Chemours could have resulted in losing over 3,400 direct and indirect jobs and over $550 million dollars in revenue. This is more than a symbolic win for Delaware, it demonstrates that our state can and does compete at a regional level. A key factor in landing Chemours was the passage of the Delaware Competes Act, which modernized Delaware’s corporate income tax code to be competitive not only with surrounding states but nationally. The General Assembly swiftly passed the legislation, demonstrating not only to Chemours but to the business community that Delaware can make policy changes to keep the state competitive.
But there’s more to be done. The reality is that there may not be another economic “silver bullet” to provide a springboard for economic prosperity. Time and time again, Delaware has demonstrated that it will successfully react to a crisis business situation by bringing public and private sector stakeholders together and making necessary legislative or regulatory changes. The state should be commended for these yeoman efforts. But has the time finally come to formalize these ad-hoc efforts and establish a public-private economic development organization? Many states have already implemented these economic development tools. Recently, the Delaware Business Roundtable (DBRT) published the Delaware Growth Agenda and a key framework component is establishing a public-private economic development organization responsible for crafting a new comprehensive statewide economic development strategic plan with a marketing campaign that pursues new investment and jobs in key industries. We have a great opportunity to be proactive in formalizing our “ad-hoc system” by developing and implementing a public-private economic development partnership. Let’s not wait until the next crisis brings everyone together.