Applications Now Being Accepted for Statewide Grant program Aimed At Revitalizing Neighborhoods

$1 million available through Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, including up to $350,000 in planning grants to local governments

DOVER – A fund created to help strengthen neighborhoods throughout Delaware hit hardest by the 2008 financial crisis is now up and running.

The Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund was provided initial funding of $1 million from a settlement that Attorney General Beau Biden secured with JPMorgan Chase & Co. related to the housing crisis. The funding was authorized by the General Assembly in June. The fund is overseen by a board consisting of representatives from the Delaware Economic Development Office, the Delaware Department of Justice, the Delaware State Housing Authority, the Office of State Planning Coordination and the Delaware Community Foundation.

The Neighborhood Building Blocks Board invites neighborhood revitalization programs, neighborhood associations, community groups, law enforcement, local governments and other stakeholders to apply for grants from the fund that support crime reduction, neighborhood revitalization, and economic development programs statewide.

“The Neighborhood Building Blocks Board will put this money to work, strengthening Delaware’s communities,” said Attorney General Biden, who has secured more than $185 million for Delaware from financial institutions in mortgage crisis settlements since 2012. “We know that stronger communities are safer and are better places to work, live and raise a family. This is an innovative program to help neighborhoods that were hit hardest by the housing crisis rebuild themselves.”

Of the allocated funds, up to $350,000 has been designated to support local governments in developing strategic and other plans focusing on economic development, crime reduction, residential development or other revitalization efforts. Of that $350,000, priority will be given to requests by cities, towns, and unincorporated areas for reimbursement of the costs of generating applications for Downtown Development District designation.

The public is invited to attend an informational session regarding the Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund on Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 2 p.m. in the auditorium at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, 89 Kings Highway SW, Dover.

Economic development is a key facet of the Neighborhood Building Blocks Program, as some Delaware communities have not yet returned to full strength from losses suffered during the recession.

“While employment numbers and job figures show that Delaware is back to prerecession employment levels, we are aware of areas that have not made it all the way back. Until all of its communities have recovered, Delaware will not be satisfied,” said Alan Levin, Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. “The funds, under the guidance of the Neighborhood Building Blocks Board, will target the specific needs of each of those communities.”

The Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund will particularly focus on supporting programs in and around Downtown Development Districts and work in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Crime Strategies Unit. Attorney General Biden created the Crime Strategies Unit, using additional funds from the settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co., to improve intergovernmental coordination, improve community outreach and implement cutting-edge crime-reduction strategies statewide.

Neighborhood Building Blocks Board member Fred Sears said his role as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Delaware Community Foundation has made him keenly aware of the many challenges facing Delaware’s cities and towns.

“The Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund is a welcome resource to these communities that are operating on very tight budgets,” Sears said. “These funds will provide an incentive to create programs and development projects that should provide long term benefits for the people who live and work in these communities.”

The application process is designed to identify the most effective proposals for building stable communities and neighborhoods, and to fund those proposals in an effort to improve neighborhoods throughout the State.

“We are particularly excited about the new Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund because it compliments very well other key neighborhood revitalization efforts being implemented, including the DSHA Strong Neighborhoods Fund and Governor Markell’s Downtown Development District initiative,” said Anas Ben Addi, Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority. “There are many neighborhoods across the state that need redevelopment, but it will take a good plan and all of us – housing, law enforcement, private investors, faith-based groups, and, of course, the community – working together to get the job done.”

The Delaware General Assembly approved the initial Neighborhood Building Blocks funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget bill.

Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington, co-chairman of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, applauded the use of money appropriated by the General Assembly to assist community development through cooperative efforts set up by the Attorney General, the Delaware State Housing Authority, JPMorgan Chase and other private sector financial institutions.

“The long-term vitality of our neighborhoods begins with civic engagement. When community leaders, homeowners, local governments and other stakeholders can come together with a path forward, it’s important they have the resources available to implement that vision,” Sen. McDowell said. “That’s what these funds will do. We’re making great progress in Delaware, but our economy will be even stronger when our hardest-hit communities can join in the recovery.”

Guidelines and the application for grants can be found on the Neighborhood Building Blocks Fundpage ( on the Delaware Economic Development Office’s website, Completed applications should be submitted via email at ( or through regular mail at the following address:

The Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund (NBBF)

c/o The Delaware Economic Development Office

820 North French Street

Tenth Floor

Wilmington, DE 19801

Please note that applicants may designate certain information as law enforcement sensitive, proprietary or otherwise confidential pursuant to the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). Consistent with FOIA, DEDO and any Reviewing Agency will take such measures as are appropriate to limit disclosure of such information.

Delaware Small Business Summit to detail new opportunities

Executive Order #44 has opened the door wider to more small businesses throughout the state

Dover, DE – The State of Delaware prides itself on its business friendliness and willingness to provide opportunities and access to the small business sector.

The recent signing of Executive Order #44 fosters that spirit of inclusion by establishing a Small Business Focus Program. The program increases access to state procurement opportunities for small businesses of a certain size, which promotes transparency and real opportunities for a broader range of small businesses in Delaware. The program also ensures representation for businesspeople with disabilities so that these individuals are included in the state’s supplier diversity initiatives.

These new opportunities and other small business initiatives will be detailed at the 2014 Delaware Small Business Summit, which will be held on Nov. 18 at Dover Downs in Dover. The half-day program begins at 7:30 a.m.

Executive Order #44, signed by Gov. Jack Markell on March 26, 2014, ensures “representation of minority and/or women business enterprises, veteran-owned businesses and businesses owned by individuals with disabilities.”

“Delaware’s small business sector is crucial to our economy, and we need to do all that we can to make sure that all entrepreneurs have a chance to turn their great ideas into successful companies,” Gov. Markell said. “Across the country, many people with disabilities have not been given the opportunities to build successful careers despite their considerable talents. Our supplier diversity efforts can help ensure they are fairly considered to work with the state. And their success will not only be important to their futures, but also to the future of our state.”

Gov. Markell will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Small Business Summit, which will include two panel discussions: One with state small business leaders, and a second describing the state’s initiatives towards entrepreneurship and business ownership for individuals with disabilities throughout Delaware. The summit will also feature a presentation on the details of the Small Business Focus Program by the Office of Supplier Diversity.

“The Delaware Small Business Summit will reveal new opportunities created by the Small Business Focus Program for individuals with disabilities and smaller businesses throughout the state,” said Ken Anderson, Director for Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support for the Delaware Economic Development Office and Chair of the Governor’s Supplier Diversity Council. “This program will not dilute opportunities from qualified, traditional supplier diversity constituents, but will now include more small businesses that have previously been excluded from the state’s supplier diversity community. This program and the other recent policy initiatives of the Governor’s Supplier Diversity Council will go a long way toward making Delaware’s state procurement process one of the most transparent, nimble and business-friendly in the nation.”

The Small Business Focus Program established by the order is a race and gender neutral small business program for small businesses of a certain size in six different industry sectors:

  • Architecture & Engineering services
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Service
  • Wholesale

“Delaware’s small business community includes an abundance of high-quality companies, brilliant entrepreneurs and long-standing pillars of our community. To exclude anyone of these entities or individuals would be a disservice not only to them but also to our state,” said Alan Levin, Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. “This executive order and the accompanying programs created by it are not just about leveling the playing field; it’s about making sure that every business has a chance to compete.”

To register, visit the Delaware Economic Development Office’s website.

Businesses selected for Project Pop-Up 2014

Participation more than doubles for state program, which offers rent-free commercial space

Dover, DE – Last year, five entrepreneurs jumped at an opportunity offered by the State of Delaware and used it to achieve their dreams of moving into a brick-and-mortar location.

Using last year’s success as a springboard for 2014, Project Pop-Up has more than doubled that number, as 13 businesses will participate in the program this holiday season.

Project Pop-Up, a joint effort between the Delaware Economic Development Office and Downtown Delaware, offers three months of rent-free commercial space and the assistance of a business advisor from October through December. The program also helps to spur economic development in towns across the state by placing businesses in renovated properties that were once vacant.

“The success of Delaware’s talented and hard-working entrepreneurs is vital to our state’s present and future economy,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “Project Pop-Up has proven to position them for long-term success, helping to turn their great ideas into thriving businesses, while reinvigorating vacant properties in our downtowns. Combined with initiatives like expanding the research and development tax credit for small businesses and reforming state regulations, this initiative is an essential part of our efforts to unleash the potential of Delaware’s small business community.

The following businesses will take part in Project Pop-Up 2014 and will open on Oct. 1:

  • Fresh Faced Skin Care, LLC, owned by Erica Suppa, 104 West Main Street, Middletown
  • Max Tax, LLC, owned by Gary and Nicole Kennedy, 202 North Union St., Wilmington
  • Patty Cakes, LLC, owned by Latricia Vicks, 22 South Walnut St., Milford
  • Skin by Hillary, LLC, owned by Hillary Reid, 105 Federal St., Milton
  • WineKnot21, LLC, owned by Amy Conroy, 113 Union Street Unit F, Milton

This year will also see the addition of a Project Pop-Up Incubator at 9th and Shipley streets in Wilmington, which will include the following businesses:

  • Barrel of Makers, owned by Jesse Taylor
  • Cherné Altovise Jewelry, owned by Cherné Bishop
  • Dolley’s Sweet Cakes, owned by Andrienne Dolley
  • Fit Body Personal Training, owned by Ositadinma Ofuani
  • FLYOGI, owned by Jason Aviles
  • London Rocks Kids, owned by Damaris Colon
  • MIZ INK, owned by Michael Hill
  • Tasty Couture, owned by Theresa Holland

“The expansion of this year’s Pop-Up program to include a three-month incubator in the City of Wilmington will create an opportunity for early stage entrepreneurs to market test their products and services, during the holiday season, in an active downtown location,” said Ken Anderson, director for entrepreneurial and small business support for DEDO. “We are confident that a number of these businesses will be in a better position to pursue longer-term lease arrangements going forward.”

Last year’s Project Pop-Up participants included 302 Fitness, a personal training studio and small group workout center in Milton owned by John Lehne; Milton Wellness Center of Delaware, owned by Dr. Bill Shearer and Mary Van House; Milford Massage, Wellness and Yoga, owned by Paige Deiner; Royal Treatments, a home décor and window treatments business in downtown Smyrna owned by Karen Gill; and Computers Fixed Today, owned by Theo Morgan and located in Dover.

“The response to last year’s program was just phenomenal, and we couldn’t be happier with the fact that we were able to more than double the number of participating businesses,” said Diane Laird, State Coordinator for Downtown Delaware. “What was most encouraging was our ability to help last year’s businesses sign long-term leases beyond the holiday season. We hope to replicate that success this year.”

Last year, all five businesses signed long-term leases and continue to do business in the communities in which they were established.

Deiner’s business did so well that it outgrew its space and moved to a larger location less than a mile away. Since she first opened her business with the help of Project Pop-Up, Milford Massage has quadrupled its business, compiling in one day what it used to bring in over a week.

“I don’t think any of this would have been possible without Project Pop-Up,” Deiner said. “It was hard to take that risk and invest in something that I was unsure about. Project Pop-Up not only gave us a start, but it gave us constant support. It gave me the opportunity to work toward that dream with confidence.”

Project Pop-Up represents a “graduation phase” of DEDO’s support of small business, which begins with programs like Start It Up Delaware and continues with the Kauffman FastTrac Program, said Alan Levin, Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office.

“Every big business started out as a small business. We provide financial assistance and support for small businesses because they are the future of our economy,” Levin said. “Project Pop-Up has been successful at identifying those individuals who are willing to take the leap and move ahead with their vision. These men and women will lead Delaware’s economy for years to come, and we will gladly support their efforts long after the ink dries on their first long-term lease.”

About the Delaware Economic Development Office

The Delaware Economic Development Office is an executive state agency responsible for attracting new investors and businesses to the state, promoting the expansion of existing industry, assisting small and minority-owned businesses, promoting and developing tourism and creating new and improved employment opportunities for all citizens of the State. Visit

About Downtown Delaware

Downtown Delaware, a program of the Delaware Economic Development Office, provides Delaware’s historic downtowns, communities, and small businesses with tools to revitalize their commercial districts, increase entrepreneurial opportunity, and enhance quality of place. To learn more about the Main Street program, visit


Peter Bothum Delaware Economic Development Office Office: 302-672-6857 Cell: 302-632-6665

Uzin Utz breaks ground on manufacturing facility in Dover

German flooring company aims to move into 53,000-square-foot plant by April 2015

Dover, Del. (May 20, 2014) – Germany-based flooring company Uzin Utz AG broke ground on its first U.S.-based dry mortar plant Tuesday, adding to its 113-year legacy of success while also contributing to the bright future of manufacturing in Delaware.

Gov. Jack Markell, Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Alan Levin, Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, joined company officials in a ceremonial moving of the dirt at the future site of the 53,000-square-foot facility, which will anchor the Garrison Oak Technical Park in Dover.

Gov. Markell thanked Dr. Werner Utz, Chief Executive Officer of Uzin Utz, and Philipp Utz, President of subsidiary Uzin Utz Manufacturing North America Inc., for choosing Delaware as the site for their expansion.

“Since coming into office five years ago, my goal has been to have Delaware compete and win on the global playing field. Today, we’re celebrating yet another win,” Gov. Markell said. “Uzin Utz is the textbook definition of an anchor tenant. With more than a century of excellence, the parent company is both stable and secure. And in Philipp Utz, the company’s subsidiary is led by a fourth-generation executive who will merge Uzin Utz’s tradition of excellence with its ideas for tomorrow.”

Founded by Georg Utz in 1911, Uzin Utz AG is a family-run company that specializes in professional installation systems for all types of floor coverings, leveling compounds, damp-proofing systems, adhesives for textile, resilient coverings and wood flooring. Once complete, Uzin Utz’s 53,000-square-foot plant will also house a research and development center and an application area for testing and customer training.

fDSCF1213“We are very excited about the groundbreaking today. With this manufacturing plant we demonstrate our strong commitment to U.S. customers, the State of Delaware and the City of Dover. It has taken only seven months to get to the groundbreaking, which shows that Dover is a great place to set up new businesses,” Philipp Utz said. “Dover is strategically located to our core customer markets, and Garrison Oak Technical Park provides an ideal location, with access to a skilled work force and modern infrastructure that will allow us to expand the plant in the future.”

Uzin Utz was awarded a Delaware Strategic Fund Performance Grant and a Capital Expenditure Grant, and plans to create 23 jobs at its new facility in Dover.

“Manufacturing in Delaware is growing by changing. Companies and organizations in that sector are redefining what it means to be a traditional manufacturer and training employees to use the most current technology and practices. Uzin Utz selected Delaware in large part because it recognized our commitment to fostering this growth and change,” Levin said. “Uzin Utz is also one of several companies that chose Delaware because of its well-trained workforce. Nowhere is this more true than Kent County, where the company will have no problem finding a stream of prepared individuals who are ready to work.”

In addition to Uzin Utz, Garrison Oak Technical Park will also soon be home to The Garrison Energy Center, Calpine Corp.’s 309-megawatt combined-cycle electric generating facility, which will enhance reliability for Delaware and the regional power market. The facility is slated to be ready for commercial use by June 2015.

About the Delaware Economic Development Office
The Delaware Economic Development Office is an executive state agency responsible for attracting new investors and businesses to the state, promoting the expansion of existing industry, assisting small and minority-owned businesses, promoting and developing tourism and creating new and improved employment opportunities for all citizens of the State. Visit

About Uzin Utz AG
Since its foundation in the year 1911, Uzin Utz AG has developed from a regional adhesives manufacture to a globally active full-range system supplier for flooring systems. The family-run business, currently in its third generation, and its some 900 members of staff are leading in the development and manufacture of special products and machinery for floor treatment. With their long-standing experience and the comprehensive flooring competence of the product brands Uzin, Wolff, Pallmann, Arturo, codex and RZ as well as the advisory service UFloor Systems, the company offers its partners practice-oriented products, systems and services for the installation, renovation and value maintenances of floors of all kinds. The company’s subsidiary, Uzin Utz Manufacturing North America Inc., was founded in 2012 and will be located in Dover, Delaware, when its new dry mortar plant and research and development facility are built in 2015. Visit

Photos here.

New Delaware study points to benefits of irrigation

DOVER — Irrigation can increase grain production and profitability even in a near-ideal growing season, a new survey of Delaware cropland shows.

Delaware farm fields that used irrigation in 2013 produced 27 percent more corn per acre on average than non-irrigated fields, according to new data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.

Irrigated acres produced 40 bushels of corn per acre more than non-irrigated ones, or 189 bushels for irrigated land compared to 149 bushels for non-irrigated land, the survey shows.

“Irrigation is an incredibly valuable tool that can help increase economic stability and improve profits even in a record-setting corn yield year like 2013,” Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee said. “This data shows how an initial investment can make yields more predictable and let farmers influence production in periods of drought.”

Kee noted that irrigation also has environmental benefits, making crops more efficient in the uptake of nutrients so they don’t stay in the soil during dry weather and then add to nutrient loading during the wet fall and winter months.

The data is the first time Delaware has compared yields for irrigated and non-irrigated corn. Of the 174,000 acres harvested for corn for grain in 2013, 43 percent – or 75,000 acres – were irrigated, the data shows. About 57 percent, or 99,000 acres, were not irrigated.

Delaware corn producers saw a record average yield of 166 bushels per acre in 2013, beating the previous record of 162 bushels per acre, in 2000.

An innovative partnership now in its fourth year offers help to Delaware farmers who want to add new irrigation systems. The Delaware Rural Irrigation Program, or DRIP, offers no-interest loans to install new equipment in partnership with private lending institutions.

Eligible farmers must have been actively engaged for at least two years in growing and harvesting of cash crops, such as corn, soybeans, fruit and vegetables, in Delaware, and must own or lease the land to be irrigated.

The loan fund finances up to 25 percent of the total project cost, not to exceed $25,000, at zero interest for a term of no longer than seven years. Repayment of principal must begin in year three of the loan. Financing is limited to one project per farm each year.

DRIP loans can help farmers add new irriation systems, including center pivot, linear move, towable systems, span angle systems, corner arm systems, single phase systems or wells and filters associated with drip irrigation systems. All work must be performed by experienced and qualified contractors licensed in and located in Delaware.

Farmers interested in participating should contact James Pennewell at the Delaware Economic Development Office at 302-672-6807 or Applications should be submitted concurrently with approved bank financing. The loan application will be reviewed by DEDO Capital Resources staff with comment from the Department of Agriculture.

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Delaware corn for grain, 2013

Irrigated: 77,000 acres planted … 75,000 acres harvested … 189 bushels/acre yield

Non-irrigated: 103,000 acres planted … 99,000 acres harvested … 149 bushels/acre yield

Total: 180,000 acres planted … 174,000 acres harvested … 166 bushels/acre yield

Source: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service

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Dan Shortridge
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture