Economic Development Director Alan Levin to End Successful Tenure in June

Governor recognizes Levin’s efforts to help Delaware post strongest job growth in the region

Dover, DE – Having helped rebuild Delaware’s economy from the depths of the Great Recession to record employment numbers and the best job growth in the region, Economic Development Director Alan Levin announced today that he would leave the Markell Administration at the end of the year’s legislative session to pursue a new business opportunity.Levin

Beginning in July, Levin will join SoDel Concepts, the successful restaurant and hospitality group in Sussex County started by his late friend and mentor Matt Haley. He will serve as Senior Advisor to the management team to help take their successful Delaware company to the next level in a dynamic industry.

“Alan took his position at a particularly challenging economic time,” said Markell. “Alan has shown great leadership during six years that have been marked by great progress in recovering from the Great Recession and addressing the challenges of the 21st century.”

“Successfully improving the economy since 2009 has required a relentless pursuit of opportunities to attract new companies and support existing ones, as well as an ability to recognize and adjust to the forces of globalization and technological innovation that are shaping today’s world. Alan excels in all of these areas and I’m forever grateful for his tireless service to our state and for his long-term commitment to the Administration.”

Levin has led the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) since Governor Markell took office in 2009, at a time when tens of thousands of Delawareans were losing their jobs as result of the national economic crisis. As the Administration’s top priority focused on putting people back to work, the state’s initial economic development successes included re-opening the shuttered oil refinery in Delaware City and attracting new manufacturing and other economic development to the site of the old Chrysler plant in Newark.

Other large and small companies that have re-located or expanded their operations in Delaware include: Amazon, Baltimore Aircoil, Barclays, Atlantis Industries, Calpine, Citigroup, Capital One, ILC Dover, Johnson Controls, JP Morgan Chase, Kraft Foods, Miller Metal, Mountaire Farms, PTM Manufacturing, Purdue, Sallie Mae, and Testing Machines, Inc.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Governor Markell for the opportunity to serve the people of Delaware during this very difficult time in our state’s history,” said Levin. “From the start it has been challenging, but I am pleased to say that we are in a much better place than when we started and the outlook for our citizens in the years to come is much brighter because of the hard work of the staff at DEDO. While I leave with mixed emotions, the opportunity to perpetuate the great work of entrepreneur and humanitarian Matt Haley will allow me to continue service to the people of Delaware in different but equally rewarding ways.”

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.”

In addition, Delaware was recently recognized by The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation as one of the top two states best prepared for the new economy, which is “marked by globalization, technological innovation and entrepreneurial development.”

Markell plans to make an announcement about a nomination for the next DEDO Director in the coming days.


Governor Statement on Delaware Setting Jobs Record

State surpasses pre-recession jobs level

Wilmington, DE – Delaware has set an all-time jobs record according to the Monthly Labor Review released today by the Delaware Department of Labor. The 443,700 jobs reported in this month’s review top the previous high mark of 442,300 in February, 2008, prior to the Great Recession.

“After nearly two years of job growth that has surpassed the national average, today’s news shows that we have made significant progress in growing our economy, but we cannot ever be satisfied when our ultimate mission is to make quality job opportunities available to every Delawarean who seeks them,” said Governor Markell. “We must recommit to strengthening our schools and workforce training initiatives, supporting research and innovation, and giving every individual and business a fair chance to reach their potential.”

According to the Department of Labor, Delaware’s total nonfarm jobs through October 2014, had increased 2.9 percent from October 2013, as compared to a national increase of 1.9 percent. Delaware’s job growth has also more than doubled that of our neighboring states over the past year. In addition, the labor force participation rate and the employment to population ratio are up by 1.1 percentage points from a year ago.


Governor’s Signature Signals Progress in Push to Spur Entrepreneurship and Innovation

New law supports research and development by small businesses

Wilmington, DE – Further cementing Delaware’s standing as one of the top two states in the “New Economy,” Governor Markell today signed legislation increasing opportunities for the state’s entrepreneurs to innovate and grow. The Governor was joined by business leaders and a bipartisan group of legislators at Delaware BioScience Association’s headquarters at Delaware Technology Park to sign House Bill 318, which doubles the state research and development tax credit for small businesses.

Governor Markell spoke at the bill signing ceremony of House Bill 318, which relates to the state research and development tax credit.
Governor Markell spoke at the bill signing ceremony of House Bill 318, which relates to the state research and development tax credit.

“We are encouraged that Delaware’s job growth has outpaced the nation’s for 17 months running, but we know we have more work to do and that the states and countries producing the research that leads to more innovation will have a clear economic advantage,” said Markell.

“State R&D tax credits have been proven to encourage additional research, attract companies from other states, and boost the high-tech sector. Yet only about two percent of our credits go to small companies and start-ups. That needs to change, and that’s what this law is all about.  By encouraging research and development at all of our companies, we will incentivize innovation and growth in emerging industries that are vital to our economic future.”

The new law targets startups and small companies by directing additional support to businesses with less than $20 million in receipts. These entities would be eligible for a research and development tax credit of up to 100 percent of the corresponding federal credit, while large companies would continue to qualify for up to 50 percent.

Expanding the R&D tax credit for startups is only the latest in a series of efforts promoting innovation – an important theme from Markell’s State of the State address when he said, “Our ability to put Delawareans to work depends in part on whether we build on our legacy of innovation.” The Fiscal Year 2015 budget he signed at the beginning of the month includes $5 million for his proposals to support a Federal Research and Development Matching Grant Program and to fund the Delaware Cyber Initiative, which will help grow a key industry that has hundreds of unfilled jobs in the state.

HB 318, sponsored by Representative Bryon Short (D-Brandywine Hundred) and Senator Robert Venables (D-Laurel) with Republican co-sponsors in both chambers, will not cost the state additional revenue because the total amount of state funding for the tax credit would remain at $5 million.

“With the passage and signing of this bill we take another step in establishing Delaware as the best state to start and grow a business,” said Rep. Short. “By modernizing the R&D tax credit to better support the growth of small businesses, Delaware will be enhancing its competitiveness with other states and increasing the opportunity for job growth.”

“This increase in the research and development tax credit has the potential to create high quality jobs and to help Delaware small businesses, both of which the state needs badly,” said Sen. Venables. “It should help to improve the business climate both for existing businesses and as a way of attracting new ones.”

Previously, every business that conducted research and development in Delaware had calculated its credit in the same manner, whether the firm was a startup or a multinational. A company was given a share of the $5 million allocated for the tax credit – up to 50 percent of the federal tax credit they received – depending on the number of companies that applied in a given year. HB 318 ensures that small companies receive a larger share.

Governor Markell signed House Bill 318, which relates to the state research and development tax credit.
Governor Markell signed House Bill 318, which relates to the state research and development tax credit.

Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of state tax credits for research and development, including in California and Illinois, where the policy has encouraged additional R&D activities, attracted companies from other states, and boosted the high-tech sector.

Among the attendees at today’s ceremony was Fred Kielhorn, CEO of DeNovix, a small instrumentation business in Wilmington that took advantage of the tax credit last year in its efforts to design, manufacture and sell laboratory equipment for today’s evolving life science technologies.

“This bill is extremely helpful for DeNovix,” Kielhorn said. “In these early stages cash is tight so every little bit helps. In part due to the state’s research and development tax credit, we were able to bring in the necessary resources early to enable us to quickly design, test and bring to market our first product, the DS-11 Spectrophotometer. I applaud Governor Markell for his business-friendly approach.”

In June, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) recognized Delaware as the second best state in the New Economy, which is “marked by globalization, technological innovation and entrepreneurial development.” ITIF noted Delaware’s success in “high-wage traded services, foreign direct investment, and industry investment in R&D.”