- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. John Carney is considering overhauling Delaware’s economic development efforts, possibly replacing a Cabinet-level state office with a public-private partnership.

In his first official public act after taking the oath of office Tuesday, Carney on Wednesday signed an executive order creating a working group to study the feasibility of replacing the Delaware Economic Development Office with a partnership that includes private sector business leaders.

Carney said the effort is not a criticism of DEDO’s current efforts but to explore whether a new approach would be more efficient and productive.

The Delaware Business Roundtable, a nonpartisan group of CEOs whose companies collectively employ more than 75,000 people statewide, has encouraged a public-private approach, which some states already have taken.

“I think it’s a good idea, but the devil is always in the details,” Carney said.

Officials said current DEDO Director Bernice Whaley will remain in her post for the time being. She will also serve on the 14-member working group, which is to submit a report and policy recommendations by April 7.

“We want to get this up and done pretty quickly,” said Carney, who envisions a jointly funded agency with priorities established by both the public and private sectors.

The working group will include four members of the General Assembly, representing the majority and minority caucuses in each chamber. It will also include four members of the business community, recommended by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce; representatives from the higher education, nonprofit and labor union communities; Carney’s policy director; and one member of the public.

Terry Murphy, president and CEO of Bayhealth Inc. and chairman of the Business Roundtable, said the partnership is “a very positive step in the right direction.”

The working group is to convene in February. It will consider issues including DEDO’s current duties, responsibilities, staffing and funding levels, and other states’ use of public-private partnerships to foster economic development.

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