Mayor Mike Purzycki said today that the City of Wilmington is pleased to assist Cornerstone West CDC and its partners with ARPA funding so they can increase their efforts to eliminate racial disparities in borrowing, which severely impact on the ability of black-owned inner-city businesses to obtain business start-up or expansion loans. The news story below explains more about the three loan programs that are available to local businesses.
With support from the City of Wilmington’s ARPA Funds, Cornerstone West CDC and its partners expand “Building From Within; Small Business Corridor Stabilization and Innovation Program
Wilmington America’s City Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are helping Cornerstone West CDC and its partners increase their efforts to eliminate racial disparities in borrowing, which severely impact the ability of the city’s black-owned businesses to get loans for starting or expanding the business. The impact of COVID-19 on Wilmington’s local economy has not only affected smaller businesses, but many of the city’s neighborhoods in unprecedented ways.
So today, Cornerstone West and its partners announced the expansion of three popular financing opportunities that began in 2020 as a way to meet the changing needs of the small business community as it struggles to survive during a 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—the Wilmington Alliance and True Access Capital—recognized that state and federal government assistance to small businesses were loans that required repayment. They determined that unless action was taken, Wilmington’s small business community would not survive. Today, the organizations thanked Mayor Mike Purzycki for securing ARPA funding to expand their joint small business program titled, Building from within: Small Business Corridor Stabilization and Innovation.
The Building From Within program offers these three financing options for local businesses:
- Strong Wilmington Fund: Provides $1,000 in emergency grants to small businesses located in small businesses across the city struggling with the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible businesses can use the funds for rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, utility bills, or inventory bills.
- West Side Small Business Innovation Grant: Works with entrepreneurs looking to open their business in a vacant commercial space, property owners looking for potential tenants, and existing businesses to make minor renovations to their West Side Wilmington, DE location. Grant awards are between $1,000 – $10,000 for expenses related to rental property improvements, interior and exterior repairs, facade improvements, new equipment or improvements, costs related to health department permits and approvals, and outdoor security cameras.
- Western Corridor Revitalization Fund: Provides up to $20,000 in forgivable loans to small businesses to act as a catalyst for economic revitalization on the West Side of Wilmington, DE. The financing is aimed at property and business owners looking to invest in the West Side community.
This innovative and catalytic program will support small businesses and entrepreneurs pursuing best practices in community economic development. Using the nationally recognized “Build from Within” model as created by the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) based in Saint Paul, MN. NDC has developed a four-component model that has become pillars for activating entrepreneurs and revitalizing low-income neighborhoods through training, lending, technical assistance and incubator spaces. Talented entrepreneurs in our neighborhoods are ready to invest in their communities, create jobs, rehabilitate vacant spaces and revitalize their neighborhoods from the inside out.
Cornerstone West CDC is grateful for the generous commitment from the Mayor’s Office and is proud to align our work with the Comprehensive Plan Wilmington 2028. There is a great need for continued investment in our neighborhoods. While Wilmington has experienced significant economic growth in the past decade, little growth has occurred in its low-income neighborhoods, which continue to struggle with disinvestment, low educational outcomes, poverty and low economic mobility. These issues have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The global plan recommends that economic development programs should be replicated and scaled for neighborhood context and ensure that inclusive businesses can grow. This plan explicitly states “the need to promote vibrant neighborhood main streets” and “balancing investment between neighborhoods, downtown and riverfront.”
The West Side includes all neighborhoods between Pennsylvania Avenue north, N. Jackson St. east, Lancaster Ave. to the south and the CSX railroad to the west. The West Side consists of four census tracts: 14, 15, 22, and 23, as well as a portion of census tract 24.
As a community development organization, Cornerstone West CDC has identified the following challenges in our community:
- Low-to-Moderate Income Community of Color: The West Side is primarily a low- and moderate-income area, as defined by median household income, according to data listed on the FFIEC website. 4 of the 5 census tracts that make up the West Side are considered low- and moderate-income census tracts. Census tracts 22 and 23 are ranked as low income with median household incomes of 38% AMI and 48% AMI. Enrollment tracts 14 and 24 are listed as moderate on the FFEIC website, with median household incomes of 80% AMI and 64% AMI. Census Tract 15 is considered middle income, with the median household income listed as 98% AMI.
- Lack of Access to Designated Resources: The West Side is not eligible for any designations such as Downtown Development District, Opportunity Zones, or Business Improvement District.
- Concentration of vacant properties: The West Side had the highest foreclosure rates in the city in 2010. Census Tracts 22 and 23, which comprised 6% of all parcels in the city, had 16% of its foreclosures and 21 % of his freeholds. Also in census tract 23, the minority population has increased, while incomes have decreased.
It is our goal to address these challenges through the Build from Within program and support a vibrant and thriving West Side community and support Wilmington as a whole.
West CDC cornerstone: Cornerstone West CDC serves as the implementing organization for the West Side Grows Together revitalization plan. They were created by a partnership between St. Francis and the West End Neighborhood House in 1999, focusing primarily on developing housing for low- to moderate-income families. Now, they offer a variety of community programs and resources.
Wilmington Alliance: The Wilmington Alliance was formed in July of 2019 by the merger of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) and Wilmington Leaders Alliance (WLA), to advance the city of Wilmington through purposeful strategic collaborations with a culture that is inclusive and innovative. The Alliance focuses on targeted projects for the greatest impact and brings coordination support to see these efforts through to completion. Our three areas of focus are: creative placemaking, community-based violence intervention, and economic development and inclusion that includes workforce development, entrepreneurship, and supporting local small businesses.
Real Access Equity: True Access Capital is a not-for-profit, federally certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that supports small businesses and community development projects. True Access Capital’s mission is to educate, empower and elevate business owners and entrepreneurs, adding technical expertise, increasing access to capital and stimulating business growth throughout Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.
Neighborhood Development Center: NDC supports entrepreneurs, from start-up to expansion, and believes in the power, drive and courage of local entrepreneurs to transform their lives and revitalize their neighborhoods.
Issuer: Launcher is a 12-week business plan writing course that provides guidance on how to start your own business as well as one-on-one entrepreneurship guidance.
West End Neighborhood House: At West End Neighborhood House, staff, clients, volunteers and donors work together to solve complex social challenges across Delaware. Through our results-driven programming, we provide support that meets each of our clients’ unique needs, whether in finance, housing, education, employment or family services.
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West Side Grows Together is a coalition of residents, businesses, churches and local leadership on the West Side of Wilmington, Delaware, working together to transform and strengthen their community. Follow West Side Grows Together on the Web, Facebook and Instagram for more information and program updates.
COMMUNITY AND MEDIA RESEARCH:
Deputy Chief of Staff
City of Wilmington, Office of the Mayor
Cell: (302) 420-7928
Economic Development Manager
West CDC cornerstone
Phone: (215) 901-8360