In world of Amazon, Delaware targets small business growth

Just weeks after making their big pitch to attract Amazon, leaders in Delaware launch a new effort to grow small businesses in the First State.

Later this month, Paul Campanella’s Auto and Tire Center will move into a new location thanks to a loan from the Grow Wilmington Fund. That fund has provided more than $3.2 million in loans for small businesses since it was created three years ago.

And while loans of a few million dollars won’t move the needle for giants like Amazon, it can make a world of difference for small businesses like Campanella’s Auto.

“The world we’re in is the world owned by Amazon. And we’re always in that mode of chasing the big elephant, the big fish, but the secret to success for our city is always going to be small businesses and medium sized businesses,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone around to neighborhoods in my city and I’m meeting people that I didn’t even know had businesses here who hire 50, 60 and 70 people and that really is, that’s our future, that really is what we’ve got to do.”

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The Grow Wilmington fund will now be mirrored by the Grow Delaware Fund, with loans as high as $4 million available statewide to fund equipment and facility upgrades for small businesses with hopes of creating jobs along the way.

“The fact that the state now is replicating the Grow Wilmington program is a really, really good thing,” said Gov. John Carney. “We know that small business is going to develop, is going to be the job creator in our state and that access to capital is a key component to that. It’s also going to help us as we try to cultivate small minority and women owned businesses.”

The Longwood Foundation and Discover Bank have committed $1.5 million to the Grow Delaware Fund, which is facilitated by West End Neighborhood House.

“The fund is already at $5 million, and we’re hoping to have it to $7 million by next year,” said Paul Calistro, executive director at West End. “For each $70,000 we lend, we believe we’ll create one job. So, in fact, if we do $7 million in lending, we hope to create 100 new jobs in Delaware, and that’s what it’s about.”

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