DEDO preparing to work with smaller Strategic Fund
The Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) is expecting a major cut to the Delaware Strategic Fund in fiscal year 2016.
DEDO Director Alan Levin requested $10 million from the state’s Bond Bill Committee Monday. While that figure matches what Gov Jack Markell (D-Delaware) proposed for the fund in FY2016, it still represents a drop from $22.2 million in the current fiscal year and $32 million in FY 2014.
At the hearing, Levin said DEDO was a “team player” and has worked with budget cuts in the past -- but urged the committee to consider his office if there was any additional money left over at the end of the budgeting process.
Still, Levin says DEDO will work with what it has, even if it means passing up some opportunities for economic development.
"We’ll have to look at projects more closely and how we go to market will be based on the resources we have," said Levin. "If our resources are limited, we may have to forego certain opportunities that may be right for Delaware but we just don’t have the ability to do it."
In all, Levin and DEDO are asking for more than $33 million for its capital budget in fiscal year 2016. DEDO’s request also includes more than $3 million for the Riverfront Development Corporation, $10 million for the Diamond State Port Corporation and $3.2 million for the Kent County Regional Sports Complex, which was reallocated last year to help Delaware’s casino industry.
Levin says the complex could be an economic driver for the region.
"This was a void that was not filled on the Eastern seaboard, at least not in the mid-Atlantic," said Levin. "Kent County found it and decided to exploit that opportunity, and I think it’s great."
In making the request, Levin noted that Delaware far outpaces the region in job creation. Delaware’s unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent from 6.1 percent a year ago at this time.
Lawmakers praised DEDO’s efforts at job creation in the First State despite continued budget cuts.