Markell Nominates Dep. Dir. Bernice Whaley for DEDO Director - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Markell Nominates Dep. Dir. Bernice Whaley for DEDO Director

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Deputy Director Bernice Whaley (Photo: Delaware.gov) Deputy Director Bernice Whaley (Photo: Delaware.gov)
DOVER, Del. - Governor Jack Markell is nominating Deputy Director Bernice Whaley to be the next Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office.

Markell made the announcement Monday. If confirmed by the Delaware State Senate, Whaley will succeed Alan Levin, who will resign in June to pursue business interests.

"Bernice is a remarkable person who has overcome significant personal challenges and adversity to succeed in business and in the public sector," said Governor Markell. "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."

Whaley worked for Happy Harry's for a quarter century alongside outgoing DEDO Secretary Levin.

Whaley served as Vice President of Distribution and Inventory Management for Happy Harry's, and came to DEDO in 2009.

"It's an honor to be nominated by Governor Markell," said Whaley. "If confirmed, I want to build on DEDO's successes and focus on enhancing the support we offer to small businesses. 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."

Whaley has been a leader at DEDO at a time of economic recovery and a surge in job growth, said Markell. At 4.4 percent, Delaware has had the fastest job growth in the Mid-Atlantic over the past two years, also exceeding the national average of four percent, according to officials. Meanwhile, the state's unemployment rate has fallen to 4.6 percent, the lowest in the region, and average annual wages have increased more than nine percent since 2009, among the best in the region.

"I have known and worked with Bernice Whaley for over 10 years," said Jim Kelly, Executive Vice President at Capital One. "?Bernice has a unique track record of success in business, community, and government endeavors. As Deputy Director of Economic Development she has aggressively represented the best interests of Delawareans and helped to build the foundation for tomorrow's economy."

Levin will join SoDel Concepts, a restaurant and hospitality group in Sussex County started by Levin's late friend and mentor Matt Haley, according to the governor's office. Haley died in a motorcycle crash last summer while on a humanitarian mission to India. Officials say Levin will serve as senior advisor to the management team to help take the company to the next level.

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