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Survey: Delaware attraction more far-flung than thought

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Dynata created this word cloud out of the things recently arrived Delawareans thought of about their state in a survey. | GRAPHIC COURTESY OF DYNATA

DOVER – For years, Delaware has used its low tax climate and East Coast geographic location as selling points to new residents, but a new survey found that those considering relocating are just as interested, if not more so, in its natural resources and slower pace of life.

The results of the survey, which contacted 80,100 people outside of the state and 346 recently arrived Delawareans about their thoughts on the state, were announced at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s Developing Delaware conference on Oct. 14.

Gary Laben, CEO of Dynata, the largest first-party data insights platform in the world that completed the state chamber-commissioned survey amid the COVID-19 pandemic, told stakeholders that the findings should be reviewed to update our outlook on marketing efforts and consider new targets around the county.

While hundreds of people in neighboring or nearby states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York said they were interested in moving here, one state surprisingly outpaced them all: California. More than 800 Golden Staters identified as interested in a First State life when contacted by surveyors.

Other states where hundreds of residents were reportedly interested in Delaware include Georgia, Texas, Illinois and Florida.

“California, Georgia, Illinois and Texas really carry a lot of weight here from a numbers perspective, and maybe that should be investigated as fertile ground for attracting new residents,” Laben advised.

While Delawareans who have moved here cite lower taxes, favorable cost of living and the quality of life as highlights of the First State, outsiders care as much about those things as the state’s beaches, countryside and pace of life, the survey found.

“It feels like that is something really important that I think we should investigate,” Laben said.

Outsiders are far more likely to believe that it is easy to find a job in Delaware than current residents, and the quality of jobs and employers are better in the eyes of non-residents.

“This could be a case of the grass is always greener. And maybe it’s possibly explained by the fact that attractors are, by definition, looking to change their circumstances a little bit by moving,” Laben noted.

Those considering moving here also see Delaware as a good place to start a new business, with more than one in four saying it was opportune for entrepreneurs. Nearly 70% of residents see self-employment in Delaware as, or more, attractive here than in other states.

“I think [those findings] provides the seeds for attracting potential residents who are entrepreneurs, business owners, people who are startup-minded – all of whom, I think, are robust economy-drivers,” Laben said.

While Delaware has seen a big influx of retiree residents in recent years, especially in Sussex County near its beaches, Laben said the survey also found that midlife and young professionals were interested in Delaware as a home. Those younger demographics are a big opportunity because they are likely to invest and stay longer in the state, he noted.

“I think that this is a jump-on-it moment,” Laben said.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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