City of Wilmington’s ARPA Funds Help Local Businesses Secure Startup Expansion Loans

August 9, 2022

Mayor Mike Purzycki said today that the City of Wilmington is pleased to have assisted Cornerstone West CDC and its partners with ARPA funding so they can step up their efforts to eliminate racial disparities in borrowing, which severely affect the ability of black-owned businesses to obtain loans for business start-up or expansion. The following press release explains in more detail three loan programs offered to local businesses.

Funds from the City of Wilmington America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) are helping Cornerstone West CDC and its partners scale up efforts to eliminate racial disparities in borrowing that severely affect the ability of Black-owned businesses to receive loans for the business start-up or expansion. The impact of COVID-19 on Wilmington’s local economy has not only affected small businesses, but many city neighborhoods in unprecedented ways.

So today, Cornerstone West and its partners announced the expansion of three popular funding opportunities that debuted in 2020 to meet the changing needs of the small business community as it struggles to survive during a pandemic. These 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, DCC Cornerstone West [] and its partners – Wilmington Alliance and True Access Capital – recognized that state and federal government assistance to small businesses were loans that had to be repaid. They determined that if no action was taken, Wilmington’s small business community would not survive. Today, the organizations thanked Mayor Mike Purzycki for providing ARPA funding to expand their joint small business program titled, Building from Within: Stabilization and Innovation of the Small Business Trade Corridor.

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

Wilmington Fort Fund []: Providing $1,000 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, supply bills, or inventory bills.

• West Side Small Business Innovation Grant: Works with contractors looking to open their business in a commercial vacancy, property owners looking for potential tenants, and existing businesses to make minor repairs to their West Side location in Wilmington, DE. Grants are between $1,000 and $10,000 for expenses related to leasehold improvements, interior and exterior repairs, facade improvements, new equipment or upgrades, costs related to departmental permits and approvals health and outdoor security cameras.

• West Side Corridor Revitalization Fund: Offering up to $20,000 in small business forgivable loans to act as a catalyst for economic revitalization on the West Side of Wilmington, DE. The funding is for building and business owners who want to invest in the West Side community.

This innovative and catalytic program will support small businesses and entrepreneurs who follow best practices in community economic development. Using the nationally recognized “Build From Within” model as established by the Neighborhood Development Center [] (NDC) based in St. Paul, MN. NDC developed a four-component model that became the mainstay of activating entrepreneurs and revitalizing low-income neighborhoods through training, loans, technical assistance, and incubator spaces. 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 CDC is grateful for the generous commitment of the Mayor’s office and is proud to align its work with the Wilmington 2028 Complete Plan. There is a strong need for continued investment in our neighborhoods. While Wilmington has seen tremendous economic growth over the past decade, little growth has occurred in its low-income neighborhoods that continue to struggle with disinvestment, low educational achievement, poverty, and low economic mobility. These issues have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The city-wide plan recommends that economic development programs be replicated and adapted to the neighborhood context and ensure the growth of inclusive businesses. This plan explicitly states the “need to foster vibrant neighborhood main streets” and “to balance investments between neighborhoods, downtown and riverfront”.

The West Side includes all neighborhoods between Pennsylvania Avenue on the north, N. Jackson St. on the east, Lancaster Ave. to the south and the CSX railroads to the west. The West Side is made up of four census tracts: 14, 15, 22, and 23, as well as part of census tract 24.

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

Wilmington City Aerial View Photo by Saquan Stimpson Certified Part 107

• Low-to-moderate income community of color: The West Side is primarily a low-to-moderate income area, as defined by median family 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 middle-income census tracts. Census tracts 22 and 23 are listed as low income with a median family income of 38% AMI and 48% AMI. Census tracts 14 and 24 are listed as moderate on the FFEIC website, with a median household income of 80% AMI and 64% AMI. Census tract 15 is considered middle income, with the median family income being 98% AMI.

• Lack of Access to Designated Resources: The West Side does not qualify for designations such as Downtown Development District, Opportunity Areas 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 its vacant properties. Additionally, in Census Tract 23, the minority population has increased, while income has decreased.

Our goal is 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.


CDC Cornerstone West: Cornerstone West CDC serves as the implementing agency for the West Side Grows Together revitalization plan. They were created by a partnership between St. Francis Hospital and West End Neighborhood House in 1999, focusing primarily on housing development for low to middle income families. Now they offer a variety of community programs and resources.

Wilmington Alliance: Wilmington Alliance was formed in July 2019 from the merger of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) and Wilmington Leaders Alliance (WLA), to advance the city of Wilmington through intentional strategic collaborations with an inclusive and innovative culture. The Alliance focuses on targeted projects for greater impact and provides coordination support to carry out these efforts. Our three areas of focus are: creating creative places, community response to violence, and economic development and inclusion, which includes workforce development, entrepreneurship, and community support. small local businesses.

True access to capital: True Access Capital is a federally certified, not-for-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that supports small businesses and community development projects. True Access Capital’s mission is to educate, empower and uplift business owners and entrepreneurs by increasing technical expertise, increasing access to capital and driving business growth worldwide. Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.

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

Launcher: Launcher is a 12-week business plan writing course that provides instruction on how to start your business as well as one-on-one entrepreneurial advice.

West End neighborhood house: At West End Neighborhood House, staff, patrons, volunteers and donors work together to solve complex social issues throughout Delaware. Through our results-based programs, we provide the support that meets the unique needs of each of our clients, whether it’s financial, housing, education, employment or family services.

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