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“Building From Within; Small Business Commercial Corridor Stabilization & Innovation” Program to Expand with Funds from the City of Wilmington ARPA and Cornerstone West CDC

Updated August 5, 2022
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The impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching and unprecedented. In efforts to revitalize and repair Wilmington’s small businesses and neighborhoods, a portion of the $55,345,780 awarded to the City of Wilmington through the America Rescue Plan Act funds is being provided to Cornerstone West CDC and its partners. These funds will aid in eliminating racial disparities in borrowing for black-owned business start-ups and expansion. 

Cornerstone West recently announced they will be expanding upon their three main funding opportunities: The Wilmington Strong Fund, The West Side Small Business Innovation Grant Program, and The West Side Corridor Revitalization Fund.

  • The Wilmington Strong Fund provides small businesses with $1k emergency grants affected by COVID-19 to be used for rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, supplies bills, or inventory bills.
  • The West Side Small Business Innovation Grant program helps entrepreneurs looking to start businesses by giving grants of $1,000-$10,000 for expenses related to repairs, improvements, and upgrades as well as receiving permits, approvals, and security installation.
  • The West Side Corridor Revitalization Fund acts as a catalyst for small businesses on the West Side of Wilmington by granting forgivable loans of up to $20,000. The funds are intended to increase investment in properties throughout the area.

Utilizing the nationally recognized “Build from Within” model as established by the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), this program supports small businesses through four major pillars: training, lending, technical assistance, and incubator spaces. These aim to empower entrepreneurs as they invest in their communities, create jobs, rehabilitate vacant spaces, and revitalize their neighborhoods from within. 

The Office of Mayor Mike Purzycki and Cornerstone West CDC are proud to be partners in their commitment to this initiative as it aligns with the Wilmington 2028 Comprehensive Plan. Although Wilmington as a whole has seen economic growth over the last decade, the city’s low-income neighborhoods have not experienced significant growth. Key issues of poor educational outcomes, difficulties with economic mobility, and disinvestment have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wilmington 2028 Comprehensive Plan for economic growth states the “need to foster vibrant neighborhood Main Streets” and “balance investments between neighborhoods, downtown, and the Riverfront”. Cornerstone West CDC specifies the most pressing challenges to the community as:

  • The West Side is primarily a low-to-moderate income community of color as defined by median family income
  • The West Side is ineligible for designations such as the Downtown Development District, Opportunity Zones, or the Business Improvement District. 
  • The West Side had the highest rates of foreclosure in the city in 2010. There is a concentration of vacant properties in this neighborhood.

It is the goal of all partners to address these challenges and support growth in the West Side as well as Wilmington as a whole.

PARTNERS

Cornerstone West CDC serves the community by implementing and organizing the West Side Grows Together Revitalization Plan. They provide a wide range of community programs and resources.

Wilmington Alliance focuses on impactful and targeted projects which support the efforts to revitalize the community. Their chief objectives are creative placemaking, community-based violence intervention, and economic development & inclusion.

True Access Capital is a not-for-profit, federally certified, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Their small businesses and community development projects educate, empower, and elevate business owners, and entrepreneurs throughout Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Neighborhood Development Center supports entrepreneurs in their endeavors from startup to expansion and aids them in revitalizing their neighborhoods.

Launcher is a 12-week Business Plan writing course providing instruction for startups and advice to entrepreneurs.

West End Neighborhood House works to resolve social challenges throughout Delaware by implementing programs that support the needs of communities. These needs may be in finances, housing, education, employment, or family services.

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