Gov. Minner Unveils Bold "New Economy Initiative" To Create And Keep Quality Jobs In Delaware
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2004
Wilmington – Governor Ruth Ann Minner released a comprehensive package of economic development proposals designed to create and keep thousands of quality jobs in Delaware, including in the emerging fields of technology and clean energy.
The "New Economy Initiative" first mentioned by Gov. Minner in her January State of the State address consists of eight components, the Governor told state business leaders at the Wilmington Rotary Club Thursday. The initiative is designed to jumpstart Delaware's economy as the country begins recovering from the national recession.
"This package will strengthen some of our largest employers, help launch fledgling start-ups, foster small businesses and advance Delaware's presence in some of the industries of the future. Many of these components fulfill recommendations of the Strategic Economic Council as well as our Energy Task Force," Gov. Minner said of the proposal that would combine $34 million in state funds with potentially $16 million in federal and private matches.
The eight items in Gov. Minner's New Economy Initiative:
- The Delaware Competitiveness Fund will make one-time investments to preserve jobs at existing Delaware companies by encouraging them to modernize their facilities, thus keeping traditionally high-wage jobs. Grants from the $12.5 million fund could be used to implement new manufacturing processes, bring in new product lines or even find buyers for idled facilities, or bring research and development operations.
- Providing $3 million in Venture Capital to a Delaware-focused private sector venture fund for investment in emerging businesses. The state investment has the potential to leverage up to an additional $6 million in federal funds.
- Technology-Based Small Business Seed Funds would help Delaware's bright minds – including entrepreneurial engineers and scientists from downsized companies and academic researchers – start their own companies based on ideas with commercial potential.
- A Virtual Emerging Technologies Incubator would provide services needed by start-up technology firms – including general legal advice, accounting, marketing, financial, patent and trademark services – via the internet, through webcasts, interactive sessions, chat rooms, self-paced learning modules and more.
- Create a Clean Energy Research Center, focusing initially on fuel cell research. Such a center would help make Delaware a center of the evolving fuel cell industry as major automakers look at introducing fuel cells to automobiles by 2007.
- Clean Energy Performance Grants will be used to attract manufacturers of photovoltaic cells, fuel cells and wind energy components. The grants will be awarded to companies based on their sales of these components.
- The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, is a National Science Foundation program that provides states with a two-to-one match of funds invested to stimulate research. A $4.5 million investment by the state gets $9 million in EPSCoR funds and will enable Delaware's colleges and universities to work together on a biotechnology-focused research, education and economic development project.
- A continued $10 million investment in the Strategic Fund, which has been used to successfuly create and retain more than 11,000 Delaware jobs during Gov. Minner's time in office.
"Delaware is doing well, thanks to the strong and long partnership between Delaware government and Delaware business," Gov. Minner said. "My goal with the New Economy Initiative is to make that bond even stronger, to bring quality jobs to even more Delawareans, and to ensure that Delaware enters a new era of opportunity."
Gov. Minner on Thursday also mentioned her administration's work to reorganize the Delaware Economic Development Office to allow a pro-active focus on industry "clusters," such as Financial Services, Automobiles, Tourism and others, as well as continued investments in the Port of Wilmington and the Wilmington Riverfront.