The City of Wilmington has an estimated 1,500 small businesses. In a local survey conducted by West Side Grows Together, a coalition of Wilmington’s West Side residents, businesses, churches and community groups, business owners reported on average a 60 percent decrease in sales revenue since the stay-at-home orders took place. Many small business owners adhering to mandatory closures are offering gift cards or online retailing to maintain a modest revenue stream that often falls short to cover expenses and mounting bills.
The Wilmington Strong Small Business Fund will offer grants of approximately $1,000 to small businesses located in the City of Wilmington to cover specific expenses such as rent payments, mortgage payments, utility and supplier bills. The fund will not only build the capacity of small businesses to recover from the impact of COVID-19, but also build out a community-driven network to serve Wilmington shops, restaurants, stores and cafes citywide.
“As we prepare ourselves and our city to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we all want Wilmington to be an even better City than it was when this crisis began,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “The effort to assist our business community in this way is a wonderful step toward that goal. The City is proud to be part of this program because we know that this type of assistance is vital for business survival and to help with business re-openings. My thanks to all of the partners for making Wilmington a stronger City and to City businesses for fighting with us to beat this scourge.”
The Wilmington Strong Small Business Fund is led by a partnership between West Side Grows Together and the Wilmington Alliance, with leadership from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, True Access Capital, Cinnaire, the Delaware Division of Small Business, East Side Rising, Latin American Community Center, WIN Factory, Wilmington Community Advisory Council and Collaborate Northeast.
“We have listened to the needs of small business owners and are taking immediate action to ensure Wilmington businesses will remain open,” said Renata Kowalczyk, president and CEO of Wilmington Alliance. “Wilmington Alliance is proud to be in a space to help create collaborative opportunities to do the right thing for our residents here in Wilmington.”
In March, West Side Grows Together began providing microgrants to small businesses located on the West Side.
“With early financial support from the City of Wilmington and a generous matching commitment from Capital One, we raised $10,000 to provide 21 West Side businesses $500 grants with no re-payment and no interest,” said Sarah Lester, president and CEO of Cornerstone West. “I am pleased that we will now be able to scale this up and provide much needed grants throughout the entire city.”
This fund, which started with a goal of $10,000, has now expanded to a $100,000 matching commitment from Barclays. Additional funding has been provided by the City of Wilmington – Office of Economic Development, Wilmington City Council, Wilmington Alliance, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, and individual donors.
“Barclays is proud to be able to provide a $100,000 challenge grant to The Wilmington Strong Small Business Fund to provide support to local small businesses during these difficult times,” said Jenn Cho, head of citizenship, Barclays US Consumer Bank. “Small businesses are the heart of our communities and the engines of job growth, and it will be important to support them as they emerge from this crisis.”