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Delaware Growth Agenda

The Delaware Growth Agenda was commissioned by the Delaware Business Roundtable as a private-sector response to the need to enhance the state’s economic competitiveness. In recent years, Delaware has struggled to contend with the lasting effects of the Great Recession, the substantial restructuring of the state’s traditional industry clusters, and the intense regional and national competition for jobs, investment, and talent. While the State of Delaware and its economic development partners have worked tirelessly to reverse the losses and spur new growth, the economic forces plaguing the state have proved daunting.

Delaware Growth Agenda

Click on the image to download the full Delaware Growth Agenda.

As a consequence, the Delaware Business Roundtable embarked on a non-partisan, collaborative planning effort that engaged more than 100 state, business, and community leaders to help craft a growth agenda designed to increase capital investment and job creation statewide. TIP Strategies, Inc., an economic strategy firm with offices in Austin and Seattle, was engaged by the Roundtable to conduct stakeholder meetings and compose the final report.

Key Findings

Delaware’s economy has undergone a substantial transformation over the last quarter century.


  • Many of the traditional pillars of the state – whether cars or chemicals – are no longer significant job generators.

  • Goods producing industries (i.e., manufacturing) accounted for about 20 percent of the state’s non-farm employment in 1990. By 2015, this percentage was cut in half to just 10 percent of all jobs.

  • The state lost more jobs in manufacturing and corporate HQ than any other sector between 2010 and 2014. However, the Healthcare and Professional Services sectors have experienced robust employment growth in recent years.

  • Delaware is home to a growing base on which to build a vibrant entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. According to one statistical index that measures the innovative inputs/capacity and outputs of an economy, Delaware compares well to other surrounding states and the US as a whole.

  • Higher education must become the long-term driving force of the state’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, which will require a greater commitment of resources from state, federal, and private sources.

  • An analysis of the economic indicators presented in the 50-State Scorecard indicates Delaware’s relative economic performance trending negatively, compared to other states, in several indicators including per capita GSP, patents per 1,000 residents, private sector earnings growth, per capita disposable personal income, and transfer payments.

  • Delaware’s labor force participation rate between 2010 and 2015 showed the fastest percentage point increase among all 50 states. Rising labor force participation can signal improving employment opportunities.

Growth Agenda

The Growth Agenda offers a broad strategic framework for pursuing a new long-term approach to economic development in Delaware. This framework is structured around a vision for economic development and three strategic goals. 


Delaware will be a global magnet for leading-edge technologies, talent, and investment. 

Goals and Strategies

1. Build an entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem


  • Develop a statewide entrepreneurship asset map that identifies what the state has, what it lacks, and what needs strengthening.

  • Bolster federal, state, and private investments in higher education, emphasizing the science and technology fields, engineering, and entrepreneurship programs.

  • Establish an “Innovation District” to serve as a destination for entrepreneurs and startups.

  • Market Delaware to regional and national angel investor and risk capital networks.

  • Create a contact database for identifying and recruiting early-stage companies and entrepreneurs. Focus on proven companies and individuals.

  • Promote social entrepreneurship in the state to address local challenges.

  • Promote youth entrepreneurship at the K-12 level through education programs, business plan competitions, and awards.

  • Celebrate and publicize entrepreneurial success stories.


2. Pursue a new approach to economic development

  • Establish a public-private economic development organization funded by multiple sources and governed by an independent board.

  • Craft a new comprehensive statewide economic development strategic plan.

  • Place greater emphasis and resources on expanding employment and investment within the state through business retention and expansion (BRE), entrepreneurship, and small business development.

  • Engage in a targeted industry marketing and attraction campaign that pursues new investment and jobs in Financial Services, Business Services, Education and Knowledge Creation, Manufacturing, and Distribution.

  • Collaborate with regional organizations on joint economic development activities and initiatives.


3. Enhance Delaware’s business climate

  • Ensure that Delaware’s infrastructure meets the needs of a 21st Century economy.

  • Improve the state’s public education system by implementing the strategic recommendations contained in the “Student Success 2025” report published by the Vision Coalition of Delaware.

  • Take a leadership role in helping to facilitate more efficient development and permitting processes at the local and county levels.

  • Create a Futures Council of Delaware.

  • Enhance Delaware’s quality of place by providing the places and amenities sought by businesses and talent.

  • Ensure that the apportionment structure of the Delaware Corporate Income Tax (CIT) is competitive with other states. 

Read the full report by clicking on the image above.

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