Delaware Leaders in Economic Development: Patty Cannon

May 12, 2021 – 

Patty Cannon, Director of Intergovernmental Relations & Special Projects, Delaware Division of Small Business

Patty Cannon has been the director of Intergovernmental Relations & Special Projects with the Delaware Division of Small Business since 2015. She and her colleagues partner with Delaware business and industry leaders and state, county and municipal representatives – and collaborate with site selectors, consultants, real estate brokers, sister agencies and community groups – to grow Delaware’s economy.

Cannon’s work centers around initiatives such as Brownfields development and redevelopment; statewide comprehensive economic development strategies; EB-5 targeted employment areas; the Emission Reduction Credit Program and Foreign Trade Zone administration. She finds her work in economic development truly gratifying, thanks to its ability to change lives.

“It is tremendously satisfying to know that your efforts to recruit and/or retain a business can have such a positive impact in your community,” she says. “Always remember that every piece of the puzzle matters!”

What attracts you to the field of economic development?  

Economic development happens when passionate people who care about a community find creative and collaborative ways to meet the needs of industry leaders. I have always been attracted to working with people who may approach a problem from very different perspectives but who have a shared goal of finding mutually rewarding solutions. At its core, economic development is about listening to truly learn the needs of the community and the business leaders and then working to find a way to meet those needs that is compatible to both sides. Headlines often promote economic wins as though a company made a decision, but in reality, PEOPLE are making decisions, respectively, about what is best for their community and their business. I thoroughly enjoy being in the “people” business.

What advice would you give someone considering a career in economic development? 

A career in economic development is exciting and rewarding! When a company’s leadership chooses to create jobs in your community, it has a positive impact that enriches the entire community. Some of your friends and neighbors may find a new career, local businesses may become suppliers to the new business and, often, new capital investments will create new construction jobs. Whether your contributions are focused on data collection, writing narrative, negotiating incentives, refining site selection, creative compilation or permitting, never underestimate how important each piece of that puzzle matters to presenting the best business proposition for the business leaders who will be making the final decisions.

What do you see as Delaware’s unique selling proposition?

Delaware is often referred to as a “state of neighbors,” and that is Delaware’s strongest and most unique selling proposition! Delaware boasts all of the traditional economic development assets, including a highly skilled workforce, customized training opportunities, expedited permitting, etc. But the collegial approach to neighbors helping neighbors is the magic that is the “Best of Delaware” – in my humble opinion. From elected officials and regulators working across the aisle, to industry, labor and community leaders working together, Delaware is a “state of neighbors,” and we welcome you to visit Delaware. This unique “selling proposition” is best experienced in person! 

What is the latest book you have read and would recommend?

“Riding the Bus with My Sister” by Rachel Simon (a Delaware author). It’s a gentle reminder that everyone has value and deserves to find their place in this world.

What have been some highlights of your career to date?

One of the greatest highlights of my career to date was in leading Delaware’s response to the famous Amazon HQ2 RFP. As you may recall, Delaware did not land the Amazon headquarters, but we did, in fact, build an amazing team of community leaders who worked together to craft a compelling business case. Amazon’s debriefing taught us that although there were other locations with larger population density that pushed Delaware out of the top contenders for that project, Delaware had submitted an impressive response that got their attention.

The Amazon HQ2 team members have continued to contribute to Delaware’s economic development efforts in various ways. Just to name a few: Ben duPont, who was a founding member of Zip Code Wilmington, continues to develop creative ways to grow Delaware’s coding expertise through Zip Code Wilmington, the {OpenBracket Delaware} computer coding championship and as managing director and co-founder of Chartline Capital Partners; Patrick Callahan, a serial entrepreneur, has developed a team to launch the Delaware Data Innovation Lab; and, John Riley published his first book, “Delaware Eyewitness: Behind the Scenes in the First State,” after leading government relations for two global corporations and helping to set up Delaware Prosperity Partnership to lead Delaware’s economic development initiatives into the future.

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