Wilmington community groups announce expansion of business funding programs

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 Cornerstone West and its partners announced the expansion of three  Wilmington funding programs launched in 2020 as a way to meet the  needs of a small business community struggling to survive during the Covid  pandemic.

The programs are the Wilmington Strong Fund, the West Side Small Business Innovation Grant Program, and the West Side Corridor Revitalization Fund.

Cornerstone West CDC and its partners—Wilmington Alliance and True Access Capital—recognized that state and federal government assistance for small businesses were loans that required repayment.

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It was determined that if action was not taken, Wilmington’s small business community would not survive.

The organizations Monday  thanked Mayor Mike Purzycki for providing federal  funding to expand their joint small business program known as  Building From Within: Small Business Commercial Corridor Stabilization & Innovation.

The Building From Within program offers these three funding opportunities to local businesses.

Wilmington Strong Fund provides $1,000 emergency grants to small businesses located in the small businesses citywidestruggling with the  impact of the pandemic.  Eligible businesses can use funds for rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, supplies bills, or inventory bills.

The  West Side Small Business Innovation Grant: works with entrepreneurs seeking to open their business in a commercial vacancy, property owners seeking potential tenants, and existing businesses to make minor repairs at their location on the West Side of Wilmington. Grant awards are between $1,000-$10,000 for expenses related to leasehold improvements, interior & exterior repairs, facade improvements, new equipment or upgrades, costs related to permitting & health department approvals, and exterior security cameras. 

The West Side Corridor Revitalization Fund offers up to $20,000 in forgivable loans to small businesses to act as a catalyst for economic revitalization on the West Side.

Funding is intended for property and business owners seeking to invest in the West Side community. The program  will support small businesses and entrepreneurs following best practices in community economic development. Utilizing the nationally recognized “Build From Within” model as established by the Neighborhood Development Center  based in Saint Paul, MN. NDC has developed a four-component model that has become the pillar to activating entrepreneurs and revitalizing low-income neighborhoods via training, lending, technical assistance, and incubator spaces, a release stated.

 Talented entrepreneurs in our neighborhoods are ready to invest in their own communities, create jobs, rehabilitate vacant spaces, and revitalize their neighborhoods from within.

Cornerstone West noted that while Wilmington has experienced considerable economic growth in the last decade, little growth has been occurring in its low­-income neighborhoods, which continue to struggle with disinvestment, low educational outcomes, poverty, and low economic mobility. The  issues were made worse by the pandemic. 

The West Side includes all the neighborhoods between Pennsylvania Avenue to the north, N. Jackson Street. to the east, Lancaster Avenue. to the south, and the CSX railroad tracks to the west. 

Partner organiztions
Cornerstone West CDC: Cornerstone West CDC serves as the implementation organization for the West Side Grows Together Revitalization Plan. The organization was established by a partnership between St. Francis Hospital and West End Neighborhood House in 1999, focusing primarily on housing development for low- to moderate-income families. It now provides a variety of community programming and resources.

Wilmington Alliance was formed in July of 2019 out of the merger of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) and Wilmington Leaders Alliance (WLA), to advance the city of Wilmington. The alliance focuses on targeted projects for greater impact and brings coordinating support to see these efforts through to completion. The three areas of focus are: creative placemaking, community-based violence intervention and economic development and inclusion which includes workforce development, entrepreneurship, and support of local small businesses.

True Access Capital is a not-for-profit, federally certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that supports small businesses and community development projects. The mission of True Access Capital is to educate, empower, and elevate business owners, and entrepreneurs, by augmenting technical expertise, increasing access to capital, and stimulating business growth throughout Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Neighborhood Development Center supports entrepreneurs, from startup  to expansion.

Launcher is a 12-week Business Plan writing course that provides instruction on how to start your business as well as one-on-one entrepreneurship guidance.

At West End Neighborhood House At West End Neighborhood House, staff, clients, volunteers, and donors work together to resolve social challenges throughout Delaware. West End provides support that meets each of our customer’s  needs, whether that be in finances, housing, education, employment, or family services

FWest Side Grows Together is a coalition of residents, businesses, churches, and local leadership in the West Side of Wilmington, Delaware, working together to transform & strengthen their community. 

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