Wilmington Strong Fund, established in May 2020 by Cornerstone West CDC and Wilmington Alliance, so far has provided 150 small business owners in the city with $1,000 microgrants over two phases. That funding has helped with rent, utility and supplier bills during pandemic-prompted business restrictions.
Now, the fund is relaunching with a third phase that offers resources and additional funding for business improvements and renovations.
In this phase, the Wilmington Strong Fund will implement these programmatic efforts, as described by the org:
- $1,000 emergency grants will continue to be given to first-time applicants
- In partnership with Wilmington Alliance’s shop local campaign, WilmingtonMADE, all awardees are eligible to receive free marketing photography and other advertising resources
- Awardees from Phase I and II are eligible for up to $5,000 for storefront improvements
- Awardees from Phase I and II are eligible for up to $5,000 for interior repairs and equipment upgrades
- Awardees will receive priority status in an executive education program for established small business owners
“We are so proud of the success of this important partnership,” said Sarah Lester, CEO of Cornerstone West CDC, in a statement. “Cornerstone West will continue to be a leader in finding pathways to build and strengthen our local economy with projects such as the Wilmington Strong Fund.”
Of those already awarded, according to the Wilmington Strong Fund Impact Report, 68% were minority business owners, 53% were women-owned businesses and 80% have revenues less than $150,000. Only 28% had received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). And 78% of awardees, in industries including food and beverage, retail, professional services and construction, reported that receiving this grant increased their confidence in their ability to keep their business open.
Additional supporters of the Wilmington Strong Fund include True Access Capital, Barclays US Consumer Bank, the Delaware Division of Small Business, WIN Factory, Latin American Community Center, Comenity Capital Bank, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Cinnaire, Central Baptist CDC, Wilmington Community Advisory Council and Collaborate Northeast.