Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Value of Public-Private Partnerships

The Caesar Rodney Institute's John Stapleford writes about Bill Wyer's tenure as chair of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce in a News Journal op-ed critical of public-private partnerships:
Bill was a junkyard dog for business in Delaware. Under his leadership, the chamber fought against any tax increases and invasive regulations, and the encroachment of government into the marketplace.
Actually Bill Wyer makes a splendid poster child for the value of public-private partnerships. Those who remember their Wilmington business history will recall that he was the first managing director of Wilmington 2000, which was created by newly inaugurated mayor Jim Sills in 1993. Wilmington 2000 played a key role in the city's successful efforts to retain and boost downtown jobs by retaining DuPont and bringing MBNA and other financial companies to the city. As a result, Wilmington's wage economy grew by $1 billion during the 1990s, a 50 percent increase.

I worked in the mayor's office at the time, and can testify to what a strong partnership between business and government can achieve in promoting economic development. I've seen what works, and it doesn't resemble the doctrinaire prescriptions of the Tea Party movement. Governor Jack Markell likes to ask business leaders what he can do to make them more successful. This may be part of why Delaware has Fisker Automotive and Bloom Energy moving into sites recently abandoned by GM and Chrysler with funding from Kleiner Perkins, the world's most famous venture capital firm.

Tea Party conservatives and the Caesar Rodney Institute may believe that business and government are by definition adversaries, but my experience working with Bill Wyer taught me that when government and business pull together, great things can happen.

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