On Wednesday, June 24 the Delaware Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination of Bernice Whaley to serve as Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. She will succeed Secretary Alan Levin, whose last day is Tuesday, June 30, 2015, as he resigns to pursue business interests.
“Bernice has a proven track record of successfully supporting and growing businesses in Delaware. Equally important, she is committed to strengthening the state she feels has given her so many opportunities, both professionally and personally,” stated Governor Jack Markell. “Today’s unanimous vote by the Senate affirms her efforts. I look forward to our work together and I appreciate the Senate’s consideration and support.”
Whaley is an accomplished businesswoman with substantial experience in retailing and inventory management. Raised by a single mother who passed away when she was a teenager, Whaley attended the University of Delaware while working full time. Upon graduation, Whaley took an entry-level position managing inventory at Happy Harry’s, which had only 13 stores and approximately 100 employees.
Over the next 25 years as Happy Harry’s grew to 76 stores and 2,800 employees, Whaley served as Vice President of Distribution and Inventory Management, managing all aspects of Happy Harry’s inventory, supply chain and operation of distribution centers. After the sale of Happy Harry’s to Walgreen’s, Whaley worked for Karabus Management, which provided management consulting on logistics, merchandizing and reorganization for national and international retailers.
In June of 2009, Whaley became Deputy Director of DEDO. As Deputy Director, Whaley manages the Office’s day-to-day operations, including leading business development and attraction projects, working with site advisors, and leading the development of the State’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
“It’s an honor to be nominated by Governor Markell,” said Whaley following her nomination from Governor Markell in May. “…I want to build on DEDO’s successes and focus on enhancing the support we offer to small businesses. I know what it takes to grow a small business to the next level, creating jobs and stability.”
Whaley has been a leader at DEDO at a time of economic recovery and a surge in job growth. At 4.4%, Delaware has had the fastest job growth in the Mid-Atlantic over the past two years, also exceeding the national average of four percent. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.6 percent, the lowest in the region and average annual wages have increased more than nine percent since 2009.
“I have known and worked with Bernice Whaley for over 10 years,” said Jim Kelly, Executive Vice President at Capital One. “Bernice has a unique track record of success in business, community, and government endeavors. As Deputy Director of Economic Development she has aggressively represented the best interests of Delawareans and helped to build the foundation for tomorrow’s economy.”
“SevOne owes its roots in Delaware to the proactive, supportive efforts of DEDO,” said company CFO Mike Shanahan. “As we considered expansion alternatives, Bernice was a great resource, bringing together various parties public and private to make it possible for us to stay here. Bernice guided us through the process of committing to our new home at the STAR campus and she proved to be resourceful, responsive, and creative, all reasons why I think she’ll make a great new Director.”