innovation-1The path for today’s job seekers is not the same as it was 25 years ago. I hear more frequently from recent graduates they have started their own business as opposed to finding a job at a large company. As a state, we need to figure out how to operate in a post DuPont and MBNA era – because the days of large companies helping to grow our tax base and bring in revenue sources are gone.

The future of our state is dependent upon new ideas and innovative solutions that will create business opportunities. We must be welcoming to businesses and have a culture where start-up and midsize businesses can thrive. We need to show companies why they should choose Delaware – whether it’s to start or grow a business. It goes beyond the Delaware Economic Development Office. We need to focus on powerful partnerships within our communities in both the private and public sectors.

With great feedback from the Delaware Business Roundtable Growth Agenda, we could create innovation zones around our research and development clusters in Delaware. Looking to Pennsylvania – as a model with Keystone Innovation Zones in similar areas, the state has created jobs and realized positive retention rates to date. This would be a win-win for all parties, counties and players involved. It would require a public private partnership between the state, higher education organizations, venture capitalist and individuals.

Millennials are the future of our economy, and they crave a work, live, play model. They want to be able to be efficient and effective at their peak time to get work done – and they need amenities to enjoy. Delaware needs to do an assessment of the geographic regions in the state that could convince millennials to call Delaware home. The two that come to mind instantly are Newark and Wilmington. This is where powerful partnerships are essential; we need developers to work with the municipalities to invest in the amenities that will draw millennials to stay. Businesses know this is the workforce of the future, which is our competitive advantage, but we can’t keep this workforce in Delaware without amenities to accommodate their desired work, live, play model.