New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced today the nomination of current Economic Development Director Charuni Patibanda to the General Manager of New Castle County’s Department of Land Use, pending New Castle County Council’s approval. Meyer also announced the transition of Christopher (CJ) Bell to the Director of Economic Development role.
Current Land Use General Manager Rich Hall will transition to a newly-created position to implement NCC 2050, the County’s recently approved Comprehensive Plan. Hall, in his sixth year directing Land Use for the County will oversee the team that shapes the communities where county residents live, work, and play. Hall has been the face and voice of New Castle County’s sustainability initiative.
“We continue to be fortunate to have the services of Rich Hall,” said County Executive Meyer. “Rich redefined our planning processes and how we plan and manage growth in New Castle County. We continue to be thankful for his hard work and determination in leading with intelligence and conviction. We look forward to his continued efforts implementing what has been his passion project, the New Castle County Comprehensive Plan.”
“I am proud of the department’s work during my more than six years here,” said Hall. “Our highlights include community engagement and working with stakeholders and organizations to improve environmental, economic development, housing, and sustainable development policies. “At the same the Department of Land Use issued thousands of permits a year, many development plan reviews, and enforcing the Property Maintenance Code—all with an emphasis on customer service and improving our communities. I am looking forward to focusing on the award-winning Comprehensive Plan NCC2050.”
Patibanda was appointed to the economic development role in 2021. In her time as Economic Development Director, she successfully wrote and won an EDA grant for a $1 million outdoor recreation and tourism project she created on the Jack Markell Trail, negotiated the County’s first ever Pay for Success contract to support and expand care for first time mothers in New Castle County, started the GROW NCC Fund for small businesses, and implemented the County’s first Small Business Enterprise program to help further diversify the County’s supplier pool.
Prior to joining New Castle County, Patibanda served as a land use and government contracts attorney role with Sheppard Mullin and Glaser Weil, both in Los Angeles, where she focused on large scale development projects, government procurement including city owned venues and parks, , and other regulatory matters in the region. She also co-founded, and served as president of The McOsker Group, a consulting firm which develops political strategies for a variety of hospitality, media, outdoor advertising, healthcare, and development clients. The Delaware native is a graduate of Tower Hill School, University of Southern California, and Emory University.
“Char is an incredibly talented public servant who has created and sustained dozens of County economic policies,” said Meyer. “Her track record of success in the public and private sectors will serve her well in her new role.”
“Rich Hall did an incredible job in the outreach and creation of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan,” said Charuni Patibanda. “I am honored to follow in his footsteps to lead this department which is focused on smart growth and sustainability to benefit all New Castle County residents now and well into the future.”
CJ Bell will transition from Manager of Special Projects to Economic Development Director after serving nearly three years in his current role. During his time with the county, he has helped establish the county’s Building Better Communities, the county’s comprehensive approach to public safety and assisted with numerous American Rescue Plan Act and County Community Development Fund investments. He is an entrepreneur with a passion for increasing the millennial presence in Delaware. In 2018, he founded The Connect, a grassroots networking group supporting millennial retention in Delaware.
“CJ is an entrepreneur at his core,” said County Executive Meyer. “I admire the way CJ has grown his business, and he understands the challenges, as well as can see opportunities for job creation across different communities in our County.”
A native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and raised in Washington, D.C., Bell came to Delaware as a student at the University of Delaware, where he graduated in 2017 with degrees in public policy and psychology. He previously had roles with Senator Tom Carper and Governor John Carney.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity of building upon New Castle County’s ARPA initiatives and fostering an entrepreneurial-friendly atmosphere in attracting and developing our next generation of business leaders,” said CJ Bell Scaling and retaining businesses throughout our county will play a big part in this effort moving our county and state forward.”
All personnel moves will be effective July 1, 2023, pending confirmation from New Castle County Council of Ms. Patibanda’s nomination.