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Delaware Investment Agenda

The Delaware Investment Agenda proposes an ambitious set of recommendations designed to strengthen Delaware’s long-term economic competitiveness. The ideas and opportunities outlined in the Investment Agenda warrant urgent action and bold leadership on the part of state leaders. The State of Delaware, however, cannot solve these issues alone. It will require a sustained and collaborative effort that involves the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. The Delaware Business Roundtable will provide a leadership role in bringing attention to the state’s challenges and galvanizing support for enacting solutions.

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Click on the image to download the full report.


In 2023, the Delaware Business Roundtable (Roundtable) engaged TIP Strategies to help develop a follow-on report to the influential Delaware Growth Agenda. Published in 2016, the Delaware Growth Agenda outlined strategies across innovation, economic development, and business climate enhancement. The 2016 Growth Agenda’s most important recommendation was the proposed creation of a new public-private partnership to lead the state’s economic development marketing and attraction efforts. Newly elected Governor John Carney embraced this proposal and in 2017 worked with the General Assembly to replace the Delaware Economic Development Office and establish the Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP), which has proven successful in attracting investments and jobs to the state.


Like the prior effort, the current Investment Agenda serves as a blueprint for addressing the most pressing long-term economic challenges the state faces. The Investment Agenda incorporates input and ideas from dozens of state, community, and business leaders from across Delaware. It also includes examples of successful initiatives and programs other states and regions have enacted to tackle similar challenges. One key difference from the 2016 planning initiative is the presence of a unified, invigorated economic development effort. During its relatively short tenure, the DPP has built trust and credibility with the business community and with its partners and investors that will be essential for success. The Investment Agenda proposes to complement the work of the DPP through the creation of the Delaware Futures Council. This nonpartisan independent group would raise awareness among Delaware’s leaders on the fundamental challenges impacting the state’s future prosperity.

Key Findings

Below is a summary of some important data points and stakeholder views that informed the recommendations.


  • In the years since the 2016 Growth Agenda’s release, Delaware has experienced significant economic growth, particularly when compared to other states in the region. Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased from $69.6 billion in 2017 to $75.2 billion in 2022, marking an 8 percent growth rate. Nonfarm employment rose by almost 16,000 jobs during the same period.

  • State finances have also shown improvement, with revenues growing from $4.01 billion in 2017 to $6.3 billion in 2023. However, despite the improvement to the state’s financial situation, recent indicators suggest a potential decline in revenue growth in the coming years.

  • Delaware’s traditional industries, including food and agriculture, financial services, healthcare, and chemical manufacturing, remain strong. In addition, new economic opportunities have emerged for the state in sectors, such as biopharmaceutical manufacturing, clean energy production, and financial technologies (fintech).

  • While Delaware’s traditional industries remain strong, there’s a need to match the aggressive strategies of competing states in workforce training, infrastructure investment, and innovation to maintain leadership. For example, Delaware trails many other states in terms of state-funded research and development (R&D). In 2020, Delaware ranked 39 among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of total R&D expenditures by state agencies per $1 million GDP.

  • Like in most states, Delaware employers face a growing workforce availability challenge. However, in Delaware, low labor force participation makes it more difficult for employers to find the workers they need. In 2021, 40 percent of Delaware residents over the age of 16 were not in the labor force, which was the 10th highest percentage. Five of the states with lower labor force participation rates also have the lowest median household incomes in the US, indicating that a declining workforce could result in lower standards of living for Delawareans in the future.

  • A likely explanation for the state’s low labor force participation rate is its relatively high share of seniors in the population. At 36 percent, Delaware had the fourth highest rate of households with a senior resident in 2021. In addition, Delaware had the fifth highest share of households with Social Security income (36.1 percent) in the nation.

  • The trend of seniors migrating to Delaware to take advantage of the state’s amenities and relatively low cost of living is positive for the economy. However, if seniors continue to account for a growing share of the overall population, there will be long-term consequences for workforce availability.

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 13 percent of Delaware’s children had a family member who quit, changed, or refused a job due to difficulty finding childcare. The resulting challenges to families and employers cost Delaware $415 million in lost earnings, productivity, and tax revenue a year.

See the full report here.

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