Seven ideas to create jobs and make Delaware a better state, including housing the homeless and adding outdoor art, were selected to compete in the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation’s Reinventing Delaware program.

The Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation held its eighth annual Reinventing Delaware Dinner, presented by Discover Bank and Barclays US Consumer Bank, on November 10th at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington. 

One hundred thought leaders and innovators gathered to network and share their ideas to create jobs and make Delaware a better place to live, work and raise a family. All guests in attendance were required to develop an idea to pitch, then vote for their favorite. 

“This year’s ideas were inspiring and diverse – from incentivizing new talent to Delaware, to addressing health inequities, to developing digital applications that can change the way we interact. The creativity and vision were amazing to be part of,” said Stephanie Johnnie, Executive Director of the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation. “Our foundation is in search of bold ideas that make a difference and we look forward to seeing how they develop over the next six months.”

The top pitch of the night came from Jeffrey Ronald, CEO of The Springboard Collective Inc., who received the most votes from the audience. Ronald proposed a plan that would move homeless Delawareans into heated, comfortable cabins with employment and educational services onsite. The initiative is being piloted in Sussex County. Ronald aims to launch the program statewide with the foundation’s support. As the top pitch of the night, Ronald moves directly to the next phase of the Reinventing Delaware competition. 

The Reinventing Delaware idea review committee selected six proposals, in addition to Ronald’s, to move to the next phase, which includes a one-on-one strategic planning session funded by the foundation. 

The six other semifinalists are:

Allison Levine, President and Founder of the Local Journalism Initiative and VP for Marketing and Communications at Delaware Community Foundation. Allison proposed Spotlight Delaware, a nonprofit newsroom that will work with existing media to increase government oversight and access to information on how policy affects Delawareans, especially in underserved areas.

Andrew Cottone, President and CEO of Adesis, proposed reducing the reliance on foreign energy by generating clean hydrogen from water and making Delaware the energy leader of the 21st century. 

Charlie Vincent, Executive Director of Spur Impact, proposed the Data Works Delaware Collaborative, which would improve data collection by nonprofit organizations and government agencies to better inform public policy and decision-making. 

Damon Martin, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Launch Point Labs, proposed Deck the Walls, an initiative aimed to beautify the state with murals and 3D printed sculptures, following Philadelphia and other cities, while creating community unity to capture Delawareans’ stories.

Scott Malfitano, Vice President CSC, proposed Attract Delaware, a plan to incent workers to move to Dover, Delaware from out of state, similar to work done in Tulsa, OK. They attracted over 2,000 people to move to Tulsa with an 88% retention rate after two years.  

Zach Phillips, Creative Director at Short Order Production House, proposed Workshop Wilmington, an entrepreneurship incubator offering venture capital support, office space, and programming focused on launching ideas and products. 

Participants will work with their facilitator to clarify their ideas, identify the resources needed, and develop a plan to bring their ideas to fruition. By the end of December, the committee will narrow the pool of ideas to identify the finalists to receive technical assistance as part of a three- to six-month idea development process. At the conclusion, one idea will be announced as the 2023 Reinventing Delaware winner and collect $15,000 to further advance their idea. 

The 2022 Reinventing Delaware winner was announced at the foundation’s annual Freedom Award in September. The Delaware Creative Economy, represented by attorney Angela Wagner, aims to attract filmmakers to the First State, create jobs in the creative realm for Delawareans, and replicate Georgia’s filmmaking success over the past three decades.  

“Similar to the legacy of Governor du Pont in bringing the banking industry to Delaware, I am excited to partner with the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation in bringing another industry to our state: entertainment,” Wagner said.