Gov. Jack Markell was succesful in the private industry — working both for the Comcast Corporation and as a vice president of corporate development for Nextel. The Delaware native then went to work for his home state, serving as state treasurer from 1999 to 2009, when he assumed his role as governor. The man with the strong financial background was going to bring those talents to the state.
Of course, the state, like many others, was also facing a huge obstacle at that time — a struggling national economy.
It was not an ideal situation. The state was just trying to stay within its budget and keep afloat. The housing market was struggling, foreclosures were piling up, jobs were being lost and there wasn’t an overabundance of cash lying around to try to institute radical new plans.
But you have to give him credit for trying. He tried to push through sports gaming to pump a little life into the state economy, but lawyers from the NFL cut that off through the court system and the state was left with parlay betting only. He got table games in state casinos pushed through, and the casinos have seen a bit of an increase from that venue. He put a lot of support behind the Delaware Economic Development Office, and they have helped attract an expansion into Delaware by the Baltimore Aircoil Company (83 jobs over two years), a huge investment from NRG Energy in air-quality improvement (several hundred construction jobs), a new recovery system by Mountaire in Millsboro (about 30 permanent jobs) and a new office in Seaford for Perdue Agribusiness.
“We need small-, medium- and large-sized businesses,” said Markell late last week. “It’s a mistake to pick one industry or another. We need to make an economic climate attractive across a range of industries. We have to be opportunistic, fast and nimble, and stay responsive, and we are doing that.”
Markell also explained that he feels there is an urgent need to improve the schools in the state, and to take into consideration the job market when looking at what’s being taught.
“We are taking to a new level the linkage between the jobs that exist and are going to exist and what is being taught in our schools,” he said. “We want to change our destiny. If we have even better schools, we will have even better jobs.”
It’s a common-sense approach that could help with the future of the state’s economy, thus the future quality of life in the entire state. Though we’ve had some issues with some things the governor is responsible for (the Route 113 bypass comes to mind), we credit him greatly for trying to jump-start our economy.