Wells Fargo Foundation continues funding of west side business improvement program

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Twenty-four local business owners in Little Italy and other areas on Wilmington’s west side have invested more than $260,000 in their buildings.

The facade improvement and security camera programs were undertaken by Cornerstone West CDC and were made possible through funding from the Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, a fund dedicated to investing in activities to support crime reduction, neighborhood revitalization, and economic development programs in and around distressed communities.

The news came during an event on Thursday

Participating Facade Improvement Businesses: Walter’s Steakhouse, Corleto Latina Family Center, Kurtz Collection, Posh Salon, Artisan Dental Lab, Mrs. Robino’s Restaurant
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At the event, Cornerstone West CDC was awarded $750,000 from the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation to support continued implementation of the West Side Revitalization Plan for the next 5 years.

The security camera program provided up to $1,800 for businesses to install security cameras and/or lighting to the exterior of their businesses.

Twenty-four businesses participated and have added 30 blocks of camera coverage on the west side.

For the newly launched facade improvement program, seven participating business owners contributed 50 percent of their total project cost, with 50 percent reimbursed through Cornerstone West CDC.

“We are absolutely thrilled and excited for the facade improvements to Mrs. Robino’s. A more attractive entranceway, with new windows and doors throughout each of our buildings, will complement the newly renovated flats and will provide a welcoming feeling to visitors of Union Street!“ Andrea Wakefield, Mrs. Robino’s Restaurant

“We have received many compliments on the work done. The program has created a positive impact on an area where people live, shop, dine and play.” John Constantinou, Walter’s Steakhouse, said.

The Facade Improvement and Security Camera Programs are part of a larger Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) effort along the main commercial corridors in the West Side launched in response to business owners’ top concerns around safety for customers and employees. This CPTED effort strengthens a partnership between West Side businesses and the Wilmington Police Department. The security cameras were required to be compatible with Wilmington Police Department technology. Since installation, business owners have been working with the police to help solve crimes and have experienced a reduction in negative activity around their businesses.

“Flowers By Yukie has a beautiful garden in the front. Before the cameras we lost so many plants – always vandalized. For a year and a half, we have not lost anything. Nothing is broken. It (the security camera) is really, really working.” Yukie Yamamoto said.

A few weeks after completing installation Rick Sansone of Sansone Seafood Market said, “We have already worked with the police on two incidents. I support this program and believe more businesses would like to participate.”

Economic development is one of the pillars of the larger West Side Grows Together initiative and 10 year West Side Revitalization Plan, developed by local business owners, residents, and community stakeholders in 2011 and 2012.

The West Side Revitalization Plan was originally funded by the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation through a Planning Grant in 2010 and an implementation Grant in 2011. Through Wells Fargo’s five year investment of $750,000 in 2012, West Side Grows Together has worked with partner organizations, funders, and government entities to leverage $116 million into the West Side commercial corridors and throughout the neighborhoods in the West Side.

Cornerstone West CDC serves as the backbone organization and fiscal agent of the West Side Grows Together Steering Committee, a coalition of approximately 27 organizations, churches, business owners, community leaders and residents.

Today, Cornerstone West CDC is excited to announce the receipt of a highly competitive $750,000 renewal implementation grant from the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation to support the continued implementation of the West Side Revitalization Plan for the next five years.

“The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation only funds projects that we believe will create long-term sustainable change — projects that help rebuild and revitalize neighborhoods. Our partnership with the Cornerstone CDC has proven to do just that by demonstrating a strong commitment to resident engagement and collaboration.”

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