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City News | Wilmington, Delaware

Mayor Mike Perjitzki said today that the City of Wilmington is pleased to support Cornerstone West CDC and its partners with ARPA funding to help start or expand their businesses. The following news release details his three loan programs available to local businesses.

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With the support of the City of Wilmington’s ARPA Foundation, Cornerstone West CDC and its partners have launched the Building From Within;

The City of Wilmington’s American Relief Plans Act Fund (ARPA) announced that Cornerstone West CDC and its partners have taken out loans that will severely impact the ability of black-owned city businesses to obtain financing to start or expand their businesses. Helping strengthen efforts to end racial disparities in The impact of COVID-19 on Wilmington’s local economy is not just affecting small businesses, but many of the city’s neighborhoods in unprecedented ways.

So today, Cornerstone West and its partners announced the expansion of three popular fundraising opportunities launched in 2020. It’s a way to meet the changing needs of the small business community that struggled to survive during the pandemic. They are the Wilmington Strong Fund, the West Side Small Business Innovation Grant Program, and the West Side Corridor Revitalization Fund.

As leaders in economic development, Cornerstone West CDC and its partners Wilmington Alliance and True Access Capital have recognized that state and federal aid to small businesses is loans that must be repaid. They decided that without action, Wilmington’s small business community would not survive. Today, both organizations would like to thank Mayor Mike Pergski for providing his ARPA funding to expand the Joint Small Business Program. Building from within: stabilizing and innovating the SME commercial corridor.

The Building From Within program offers three fundraising opportunities for local businesses:

  • Wilmington Strong Fund: Provides a $1,000 emergency grant to small businesses in the city suffering from the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible businesses can use the funds for rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, equipment bills, or inventory bills.
  • West Side Small Business Innovation Grant: We work with entrepreneurs looking to start a business in commercial vacancies west of Wilmington, Delaware, property owners looking for potential tenants, and existing businesses to make minor repairs. Grant awards of $1,000 for leasehold improvements, interior and exterior repairs, façade improvements, new equipment or upgrades, permits and health department approvals, and costs related to outdoor security cameras. ~ $10,000.
  • Western Corridor Revitalization Fund: Provides loans of up to $20,000 to small businesses that act as catalysts for economic revitalization on the West Side of Wilmington, Delaware. The funding is intended for real estate and business owners looking to invest in West Side communities.

This innovative and catalytic program supports small businesses and entrepreneurs who follow best practices in economic development in their communities. We utilize the nationally recognized “Build From Within” model established by the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) based in St. Paul, Minnesota. NDC has developed a four-component model that has become pillars for activating entrepreneurs and revitalizing low-income communities through training, financing, technical assistance, and incubator spaces. Our neighborhood’s talented entrepreneurs are ready to invest in their communities, create jobs, repair empty spaces, and revitalize our neighborhoods from within.

Cornerstone West CDC appreciates the generosity of the Mayor’s Office and is proud to work with Wilmington’s 2028 Comprehensive Plan. Continued investment in our neighborhoods is strongly needed. Wilmington has enjoyed considerable economic growth over the past decade, but has seen little growth in low-income neighborhoods, plagued by investment failures, poor educational outcomes, poverty and low economic mobility. continues to be These problems are only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The citywide plan recommends replicating and expanding the economic development program to suit neighborhood conditions to enable inclusive business growth. The plan articulates the “need to foster a vibrant neighborhood Main Street” and “balance investment between neighborhood, downtown and riverfront.”

The West Side includes all areas 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. The West Side is made up of four census districts: census districts 14, 15, 22, and 23, and a portion of census district 24.

As a community development organization, Cornerstone West CDC has identified the following challenges in the community:

  • Low- to Middle-Income Communities of Color: According to data posted on the FFIEC website, the West Side is primarily a low-middle-income neighborhood defined by median family income. Four of the five census districts that make up the West Side are considered low- and middle-income census districts. Census Districts 22 and 23 are listed as low income, with median family incomes of 38% of AMI and 48% of AMI. Census Tracts 14 and 24 are listed as moderate on the FFEIC website, with median household incomes of 80% AMI and 64% AMI. Census District 15 is considered middle income, with a listed median household income of 98% AMI.
  • Lack of Access to Designated Resources: The West Side does not qualify for designation as a Downtown Development District, Opportunity Zone, or Business Improvement District.
  • Vacant Lot Concentration: The West Side had the highest rate of foreclosures in the city in 2010. The Census shows 22 and 23, including 6% of all city parcels, accounted for 16% of foreclosures and 21% foreclosures. was taken. the vacant property. Additionally, in Census District 23, minority populations are growing while incomes are declining.

It is our goal through our Build from Within program to address these challenges, support a vibrant and thriving West Side community, and support Wilmington as a whole.

Cornerstone West CDC: Cornerstone West CDC serves as the implementing body for the West Side Grows Together revitalization plan. Founded in 1999 by a partnership between St. Francis Hospital and West End Neighborhood House, it focuses primarily on housing developments for low- to middle-income families. We currently offer a variety of community programming and resources.

Wilmington Alliance: The Wilmington Alliance, formed in July 2019 by the merger of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) and Wilmington Leaders Alliance (WLA), is a deliberate strategic alliance with an inclusive and innovative culture. Together we moved the city of Wilmington forward. The Alliance focuses on targeted projects for greater impact and provides coordination support to complete these efforts. Our three areas of focus are creative placemaking, community-based violence interventions, and economic development and inclusion. This includes workforce development, entrepreneurship and supporting local small businesses.

True Access Capital: True Access Capital is a non-profit, federally accredited community development finance institution (CDFI) that supports small businesses and community development projects. True Access Capital’s mission is to educate business owners and entrepreneurs by augmenting their technical expertise, increasing access to capital, and stimulating business growth throughout Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. It’s about empowering and elevating.

Neighborhood Development Center: NDC supports entrepreneurs from start-up to expansion and believes in the power, drive and audacity of local entrepreneurs to transform their lives and revitalize their neighborhoods.

Launcher: Launcher is a 12-week business planning course that provides guidance on how to start a business and one-on-one entrepreneurship.

West End Neighborhood House: At West End Neighborhood House, staff, clients, volunteers and donors work together to solve complex social challenges across Delaware. Through results-driven programming, we help you meet your unique needs, including financial, housing, education, employment and family services.

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West Side Grows Together is a coalition of West Side residents, businesses, churches and local leaders in Wilmington, Delaware working together to transform and strengthen communities. For more information and program updates, follow West Side Grows Together on the web, Facebook, and Instagram.

Community and Media Inquiries:

John Lago
Deputy Chief of Staff
City of Wilmington, Mayor’s Office
Mobile: (302) 420-7928

Gabriel Lantieri
economic development manager
Cornerstone West CDC
Phone: (215) 901-8360