It didn’t take long for Delaware Economic Development Office Secretary Alan Levin to endear himself to his audience.
“If we had more people in Delaware that thought like Sussex County, we’d be in pretty good shape,” Levin said to members of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce May 13 at Kings Creek Country Club. “I’m just amazed at how this county continues to grow. This is the place that gets it.”
Levin said Sussex and Kent counties helped stabilize Delaware during the Great Recession, with the tourism sector being a resilient economic driver.
Levin, the former president of Happy Harry’s drug stores, was in Rehoboth to discuss the state’s ongoing efforts to diversify its economy by growing manufacturing and creating jobs.
“We can no longer pretend or expect to put everything in one basket. In years gone by, we were all financial services,” Levin said. “The governor has tried to diversify the economy in this state so that way we are not exposed to the next recession.”
To do that, Levin said Gov. Jack Markell’s administration has tried to both lure companies to Delaware while keeping businesses that are already here. He admitted some companies have worked out, while others, such as the ill-fated Fisker Automotive in New Castle County, have not worked.
Levin said two opportunities for blue-collar jobs are Bloom Energy taking over the former Chrysler plant in Newark and the proposed Allen Harim poultry plant in Millsboro, which would take over the former Vlasic pickle plant. He said the Allen Harim project would create 700 jobs; if that project does not happen, Levin said the plant would stay vacant for years.
Levin said creating jobs is how Delaware can encourage the next generation to stay in Delaware instead of going elsewhere to work.
“Delaware has to create opportunities for the next generation. We want our kids to have a future in this state. In order for our kids to be here, they need opportunities,” Levin said.