First State Community Loan Fund (CLF) announced the expansion of its Corridor Revitalization Fund business lending program, funded by JP Morgan Chase Bank.
Launched in 2016, the Corridor Revitalization Fund offers forgivable loans to entrepreneurs, landlords and developers to promote revitalizing or opening restaurants, retail shops and small businesses essential to attracting new residents to live and work in downtown Wilmington.
Backed by $440,000 in new funding from Chase, the Wilmington Business Corridors: Emerging and Expanding Business Program this year will focus lending in both the Downtown Business District and Wilmington’s West Side community.
“With this additional funding, we are renewing our commitment to act as a business catalyst and to encourage and support economic revitalization in both the Downtown Business District, and on Wilmington’s West Side,” said Van Hampton, CEO of First State Community Loan Fund. “Working with Chase and the City of Wilmington, we made incredible progress on the Market Street Corridor with our original round of funding. But there is more work to be done, and we are ready to help fuel similar successes, both on Market Street and in another business corridor.”
Businesses that benefited from the initial round of funding include: Margaux, Stitch House Brewery and Bardea Food & Drink, restaurants; Fit Body exercise studio; Greenhill Pharmacy and the artist makerspace, NextFab.
As part of this new round of funding, First State CLF will increase its marketing and outreach activities to include more women and minority-owned borrowers, with an emphasis on encouraging a more diverse business community in both the Market Street Corridor and West Side neighborhoods.
“Wilmington is telling a new story these days,” said Mayor Mike Purzycki. “It’s because of the generous support of JP Morgan Chase, and the tireless work of community partners like First State Community Loan Fund, that our downtown districts continue to grow and thrive. This new round of funding will only add to that progress. I encourage business owners and prospective business owners to consider joining this excitement.”
This year’s funding from Chase brings the bank’s total investment in the Corridor Revitalization Fund to more than $1 million.
“Chase continues to invest in Wilmington because we believe this city is a great place to live and work. A thriving downtown business community generates jobs, commerce, and a better quality of life for everyone. The success of the original fund is proof of that, so Chase is thrilled to extend that positive impact with an additional $440,000 grant,” said JP Morgan Chase market Leader, Tom Horne.
Wilmington’s Market Street Corridor has 35 parcels listed, totaling approximately 99,500-square-feet of available first-floor commercial/retail office space in the Market Street Corridor, a 25 percent vacancy rate.
Major development projects currently underway in the downtown business district are expected to be catalysts for additional retail development along Market Street and adjacent streets, a release stated.
With the support of JP Morgan Chase, First State CLF seeks to support future retail and business development in and around Wilmington’s downtown by making available capital and technical assistance through this new round of funding.
First State Community Loan Fund encourages economic development in Wilmington’s West Side community where the fund is presently supporting the Solomon’s Court project. Located at 4thand Rodney Streets, Solomon’s Court is a collaboration between the Be Ready Community Development Corporation (BRCDC) and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Delaware. The two groups have joined together to develop a mixed-use development on Wilmington’s West Side.
Phase One of the project includes demolition of existing structures and is presently underway.
Phase Two will include the development of 14 rental units and 6,000 square-feet of commercial and retail space. First State expects to help fund as many as seven small businesses that locate in the commercial/retail space at Solomon’s Court.
Until now, the area around Solomon’s Court, about a half mile from Market Street, has not shared in the same emerging commercial/retail growth realized in Wilmington’s central business district.
Unlike the Market Street Corridor, which spans 10 city blocks, Solomon’s Court is focused on one city block, where the loan fund aims to work as a catalyst, attracting new growth and re-investment to Wilmington’s West Side.
First State CLF provides access to capital for small businesses, community organizations and affordable housing developers throughout Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.firststateloan.org.