Deputy Director Bernice Whaley Brings 25 Years of Business Experience and Record of Accomplishment at DEDO to the Post
Dover, DE – Governor Jack Markell announced today that he will nominate Deputy Director Bernice Whaley to be the next Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO). If confirmed by the Delaware State Senate, Whaley will succeed Alan Levin, who will resign in June to pursue business interests.
“Bernice is a remarkable person who has overcome significant personal challenges and adversity to succeed in business and in the public sector,” said Governor Markell. “Over 25 years, she was a vital piece of the team that grew Happy Harry’s from a local retailer with 13 stores into the leading drug store chain in our state and region. She knows what it takes to create and grow a business, and since joining DEDO in 2009, she has brought that experience to work for Delaware businesses.”
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 2800 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. “If confirmed, 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. If I am confirmed as DEDO Director, I want to extend DEDO’s outreach with programming on how to access capital, how to get your business noticed, how to benefit from e-commerce, and how to benefit from productivity strategies.”
Whaley has been a leader at DEDO at a time of economic recovery and a surge in job growth. At 4.4 percent, 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, among the best in the region.
In releasing its job creation index for 2014, Gallup noted that Delaware had gone “from one of the lowest-ranking states in 2008 and 2009 to one of the top-ranking in 2013 and 2014. Delaware holds the distinction of being the only state anywhere along the Eastern seaboard to be in the top 10.”
“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.”
Markell is also announcing that he will nominate Secretary of State Jeff Bullock to become Chair of the Diamond State Port Corporation when Levin, who is the current Chair, steps down at the end of June. Bullock currently serves as Vice Chair.