By Terry Rogers
At a Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford Membership Luncheon, held on October 9, 2013, Ken Anderson, the Director of Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support for the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) said that Delaware ranked second in a nationally recognized report. The report, created by the Ewing-Kauffman Foundation, entitled “The 2012 State New Economy Index” assesses the level at which states move from old economy to new economy.
According to Investopedia, old economy refers to more traditional industry with little or no investment in new technology, while new economy refers to companies that are able to market and grow using today’s technological advances. Examples given by Mr. Anderson included ecommerce or technology based businesses that have grown in popularity, such as eBay and Intel.
“Since 2007, the Ewing Kauffman report looks at individual states to see how they are doing at the basic foundational structure of the state’s economy,” Mr. Anderson said. “The 2012 report said that Delaware was the most globalized of states in attracting businesses, and was second in overall structure. Only Massachusetts ranked higher.” The report shows that Delaware ranked ninth in 1999, rising to sixth in 2010. Mr. Anderson says that there are many reasons that Delaware ranks highly on the report, including the assistance provided to small businesses at the state level.
“The Governor’s Supplier Diversity Council, which I chair, is working on implementing proposals to enhance small businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans,” Mr. Anderson explained. “We are also working on changing the size standard.” Mr. Anderson explained that the Small Business Administration defines a small business as a company with 150 or fewer employees. He says that the Delaware Office of Economic Development has found that companies with 50 or less employees are the ones currently creating net new jobs.
“There is a difference between job creation and net new job creation,” Mr. Anderson explained. “Net new jobs are those that never existed before, such as when a company expands. That is different than when a company moves into an area and brings staff with them, as those are really not new jobs, just shifted jobs.” Mr. Anderson explained that some of the proposals from the council may require legislation and that they are working with Governor Markel in an effort to get some of the proposals implemented in a way that would not require law changes.
Another program that Mr. Anderson said has shown to be very effective in bringing new businesses to an area is the Project Pop-Up program, run by Diane Laird. Currently, Project Pop-up focuses on downtown areas, and applicants are chosen based on set criteria. The business awarded the grant receives the first three months’ rent free and receives business advice from local mentors as well as DEDO in order to promote long-term success.
“The program has been so successful that landlords outside of the downtown area are finding that this is a great way to fill an empty space and are offering the same free rent options to businesses who demonstrate a good business plan,” Mr. Anderson said. “DEDO looks at these new businesses as children, giving them support and helping them network with other businesses who can help them succeed. We try to work with the town and the landlords to try to minimize any difficulty a new business owner may have in opening a starter business. For women-, minority- or veteran-owned businesses, Mr. Anderson suggested contacting the Office of Supplier Diversity in Dover to learn what is available to assist them in growing or starting a business. Information can be found online at http://gss.omb.delaware.gov/osd/.