The Diamond Challenge is the cornerstone of the Paul & Linda McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative at the University of Delaware Horn Program in Entrepreneurship. The initiative aims to inspire the next generation of world-changers by providing world-class educational experiences centered on creativity, innovation and action-oriented programming.

Youth offerings are based on the emerging science of entrepreneurship – a combination of academic research as well as real-world and industry best practices – which emphasizes evidence over individual experience and isolated studies. Since 2012, more than 3,500 young people have participated in our youth programs, which are rated as highly valuable by high school students and educators from around the world.

You can learn more about the initiative and about the Horn Program by visiting the website.

The McConnell Companies, Inc.

CEO – McConnell Development, Inc.

Partner – McConnell Johnson Real Estate, LLC

1313 Innovation


Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of Delaware


About McConnell Companies:         

Paul McConnell’s career in real estate development began in 1974.  Since that time he has developed office buildings, residential and apartment communities, and industrial parks.  His development projects of the past 38 years total over 5 million square feet.

In 1989, Paul started McConnell Development, Inc. primarily to purchase and develop land.  That state evolved into projects that included 600 acres of residential home sites, one apartment community, one town-home community, and Centerpoint Industrial Park, which has over 1 million square feet and is owned and managed by McConnell Development today.

Mr. McConnell partnered with Scott Johnson in 2000 to form McConnell Johnson Real Estate Company and in 2002 they led a team of investors in the acquisition of 1201 N. Market Street, Delaware’s tallest building with over 500,000 square feet of space.  In 2005, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Johnson led a similar team of investors in the three phase purchase of the iconic Hercules Plaza, located at 1313 N. Market Street.

Over the years of ownership, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Johnson have led the investors in the successful renovation, management, leasing and financing of both locations from corporate headquarters to Class A, multi-tenant office buildings.  Both buildings continue to be managed by McConnell Johnson Real Estate Company, with property managers and staff on-site.


About 1313 Innovation:

In December of 2013, Paul teamed up with Digital-Vikings to create 1313 Innovation.  1313 Innovation focuses on digital technologies, provides access to 3D printing, and offers services such as offices on demand and educational sessions in their unique space located at Hercules.

In November 2014, under Paul’s direction and vision, 1313 Innovation hosted their first annual Tech2Gether event; a two day forum which took place in Hercules and at the World Café Live at the Queen, featuring the brightest local minds in Medicine, Education, and Technology.



Paul is an active member of the community, with direct involvement in many local organizations.  He is the President of the Board of Trustees for Layton Preparatory School in New Castle, a Member of the Board of Nativity Preparatory in Wilmington, and is a Member of the Board for St. Edmond’s Academy in Wilmington, as well as the founder of the school’s Opportunity Fund.

In March 2015, Mr. McConnell along with his wife, Linda, joined forces with the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship to create the Paul and Linda McConnell Youth Initiative.

Paul is also involved with the British American Business Council, the Greater Philadelphia, Chilean, Philadelphia Israel, New Castle, and Delaware State Chambers of Commerce.

In addition to his role in the community, Paul serves as Member of the Board for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, for First State Innovation, for The Siegfried Group, and for FMP Media Solutions.



Paul has been happily married for 23 years to Linda McConnell, and he is the father of six children: Megan, Michael, Matthew, Timothy, Andrew and Sean.  He and his wife live in Wilmington, DE with their two youngest children.