Ten Delaware small businesses ‚Äď six of them women-owned businesses ‚Äď received EDGE grants totaling $748,000 from the Delaware Division of Small Business that will allow them to accelerate growth plans, rent additional space, and improve or expand marketing plans.
The state moved quickly to select the winners after announcing the program in May, even with application volume that was triple the number Division Director Damian DeStefano thought they‚Äôd receive in the first round.
EDGE (Encouraging Development, Growth & Expansion) Grants provide a 3-to-1 match for each dollar an eligible business invests on qualified expenses that improve the company‚Äôs long-term chances of success.
‚ÄúOur original goal was to get 50 applications and have a six-week review period,‚ÄĚ DeStefano said. ‚ÄúWe received 140 ‚Äď each one with 20-30 pages of information ‚Äď and my team still got them all reviewed in that time period.‚ÄĚ
The state broke the applicants into two groups ‚Äď a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Match) class and an Entrepreneur class that helped expand the applicant pool. Eight finalists were selected for the two categories, and five winners were selected for each class after public presentations before a panel of judges chaired by long-time civic leader Fred Sears in mid-August at DelTech in Dover.
DeStefano and Gov. John Carney recognized the winners at a Wednesday morning press conference:
Members of the STEM class can receive grants up to $100,000, while the Entrepreneur class can receive grants for up to $50,000.
Carney said the Small Business sector is now a major driver of job growth and business development in Delaware, noting that larger businesses historically filled that role but it‚Äôs no longer the case. He said the creation of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership to attract and retain Delaware businesses and the creation of the Division of Small Business both have made a big difference.
‚ÄúI kept finding myself being asked, ‚ÄėWhat are you doing for small business,‚Äô and my answer is creating an environment where business can be successful, a friendly business climate, and creating incentives like this program to support entrepreneurship‚ÄĚ Carney said, comparing the EDGE grant program to the University of Delaware‚Äôs Horn Entrepreneurship program.
DeStefano said he was surprised by the diversity of applicants and business ideas.
‚ÄúFrankly, ‚ÄúI‚Äôd never heard of some of them,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôve had their heads down building companies with great ideas. Businesses need money to turn ideas into reality. These are the companies we were thinking about when we established the goal of making sure nobody is unable to start a business due to lack of capital.‚ÄĚ
The Division of Small Business is accepting applications for the second round of EDGE Grants. The deadline to apply is Oct. 11, 2019, at 11:59 p.m.
‚ÄĒ Peter Osborne, DBT Editor
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