DOVER — Gov. Jack Markell said Monday he plans to nominate Delaware Economic Development Office Deputy Director Bernice Whaley to head the office.
Ms. Whaley has been with the office for six years. Director Alan Levin revealed last week he intends to leave at the end of June to enter private business.
Ms. Whaley, who graduated from the University of Delaware while working full time, spent 25 years working for Happy Harry’s, a drugstore chain ran by Mr. Levin. She moved up from an entry-level manager to vice president of Distribution and Inventory Management and later worked for Karabus Management.
“Bernice is a remarkable person who has overcome significant personal challenges and adversity to succeed in business and in the public sector,” the governor said in a statement. “Over 25 years, she was a vital piece of the team that grew Happy Harry’s from a local retailer with 13 stores into the leading drug store chain in our state and region. She knows what it takes to create and grow a business, and since joining DEDO in 2009, she has brought that experience to work for Delaware businesses.”
As deputy director, she is responsible for day-to-day operations in the office, such as formulating the state’s economic development strategy.
Delaware’s unemployment rate of 4.6 percent is better than the national average, and annual wages have grown by more than 9 percent since 2009.
“If confirmed, I want to build on DEDO’s successes and focus on enhancing the support we offer to small businesses,” Ms. Whaley said in a statement. “I know what it takes to grow a small business to the next level — creating jobs and stability. If I am confirmed as DEDO director, I want to extend DEDO’s outreach with programming on how to access capital, how to get your business noticed, how to benefit from e-commerce and how to benefit from productivity strategies.”
The Senate Executive Committee will hear from Ms. Whaley before she is voted on by the full Senate.