In a bipartisan summit, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell discussed Delaware's efforts to create jobs, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its second Enterprising States study showing Delaware #1 in "economic output per job."
In addition to its number- one ranking, Delaware ranked in the top ten in nine categories, including No. 5 in "high-tech share of all business" and "high-speed broadband intensity," sixth in "median family income" and "export intensity growth," seventh in "export growth" and "STEM (science and math) job concentration," eighth in "business tax climate," and tenth in "higher-ed degree output."
"I wake up every day asking myself what more we can do to create jobs in Delaware," said Markell. "When I ask what government can do to help, business leaders say they want quality schools, quality infrastructure, and a quality workforce. We will keep looking for ways to work together to facilitate the success of our small, medium and large businesses. We're working to grow the businesses we have and continually attract new ones. Government can and should help spur economic activity."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce study says Delaware ranked seventh in export growth from 2002 to 2010, and showed an innovative and entrepreneurial business environment. With these advantages, plus a business-friendly tax environment, the study says Delaware is poised to capitalize on its strengths.
The study noted that Delaware for having a balanced budget at a time when 44 states and the District of Columbia are projecting budget shortfalls for 2012. The upcoming fiscal year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will be "one of the states' most difficult budget years on record. Retiree benefits for state employees add yet another strain, with the states facing a $1.26 trillion shortfall."
Joining the governor were: Jim Wolfe, President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Bill Allan, president of Verizon Delaware and Ernest Dianastasis, chair of the Delaware Business Roundtable and Managing Director, CAI, an information technology consulting and outsourcing services organization.
State Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Wolfe says "Governor Markell has gained credibility with the Delaware business community, working to retain and attract businesses with quality employment for Delawareans. His Building Delaware's Future Now program is right on target and the Chamber is working in partnership with his team. We're seeing results in key areas - from high-tech manufacturing to world-class education - Delaware maintains an unparalleled business-friendly status and a first-rate lifestyle."
"Early on, our governor asked business leaders for a performance review," said Dianastasis, who is also chair of First State Innovation, (FSI), a privately-led initiative organized as a non-profit focused on developing human capital, technological innovation and entrepreneurial skill. " The governor wanted feedback on how government can better work with the private sector and he has followed up. One of the things I feel strongly about is that we need to make our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) students successful by providing them with a great education, a great farm system for experience and training and a great place to work when they are ready. "
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation (NCF) conducted a roundtable discussion among governors with input from business leaders on what is making states attractive for businesses to locate, relocate, and expand in this uncertain economy. Govs. John Hickenlooper from Colorado, Bob McDonnell from Virginia, Rick Scott from Florida, Terry Branstad from Iowa, and Scott Walker from Wisconsin and Governor Markell participated.
The Enterprising States study is available at: http://www.uschamber.com/reports/enterprising-states-2011 Delaware is featured on page 42. The study, prepared by The Praxis Group, highlights state-driven initiatives, including those in Delaware, to redesign government, including dealing with excessive debt levels that inhibit economic growth and job creation, and implementing forward looking, enterprise-friendly initiatives with a primary goal of creating the conditions for job creation and future prosperity.
While the study makes clear the chamber's commitment to reducing regulations on businesses, Governor Markell offered a note of caution.
"I'm not as interested in this debate over slashing regulations staying at the thirty-thousand foot level. Because there is a place for reasonable regulation, for example to protect public health and safety or to ensure a playing field where businesses can compete against each other fairly. So my challenge back was - what specific regulations are creating obstacles? Which specific hurdle is in the way? That's a more useful question," Markell said.