Division of Small Business awards EDGE Grants to 15 Delaware companies

SMYRNA, Del. (August 11, 2021) – A company working to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a maker of wearable cooling protective gear, a specialty running store, and a meadery were among the 15 Delaware small businesses recognized Wednesday as awardees of the third round of Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) Grants from the state Division of Small Business.

Gov. John Carney and Division of Small Business Director Jordan Schulties announced the companies at an event at Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna, where EDGE grant recipient Taco Jardin currently has a food truck located.

“We need to make it easy for businesses to start and stay here in Delaware,” said Governor Carney. “That’s why we created the EDGE Grant program to encourage even more small businesses to expand and innovate. The grant recipients in this round span a wide range of industries, but each owner has the drive and determination necessary to start then grow their business. After an incredibly challenging year, we remain committed to rebuilding our economy and supporting Delaware small businesses.”

Businesses who are less than five years old and employ no more than 10 employees are eligible to apply for an EDGE Grant. The grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. STEM-based companies can receive up to $100,000 for eligible expenses while Entrepreneur Class (non-STEM) businesses can receive up to $25,000.

EDGE is a matching grant program. The Division of Small Business matches a winning business’s investment on a 3-to-1 basis. The business can spend EDGE grant funds on expenses that help improve the company’s long-term chances of success, such as a marketing campaign to help acquire more customers or purchasing a needed piece of equipment that can increase production capacity.

“EDGE Grants are helping to level the playing field for promising Delaware small companies as they compete with more established, larger businesses and as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” Secretary of State Jeff Bullock said. “Small businesses are the backbone of Delaware’s economy, and this program is just one of the many ways the Division of Small Business has made a strong, positive impact on the state’s economy by assisting hardworking business owners.”

Since EDGE launched in 2019, more than $2 million has been awarded to 35 promising Delaware small businesses in industries ranging from wearable technology to agribusiness to craft brewing.

“Despite the challenges of the last year, Delaware’s entrepreneurs continue to find innovative ways to ensure the success of their businesses by developing new products, changing how they interact with their customers, or thinking creatively about their future goals,” Division Director Jordan Schulties said. “The EDGE Grant offers us the opportunity to recognize this innovation by providing much-needed capital assistance at a time when our state’s small businesses need it most.”

This is the third round of funding for the program since it launched in 2019. In this latest round, which opened in April, 282 businesses applied for funding. Twenty-three finalists gave public presentations before a panel of expert judges on June 22, 23 and 24 at Delaware Tech in Dover.

Taco Jardin received $25,000 in EDGE Grant funds to purchase a second food truck to expand their reach throughout Kent County.

“This funding from the EDGE Grant program is significant for a small business like ours and will create opportunities for our business that would not be possible without it,” said chef and co-owner Charles Kelchner. “My business partners and I are honored to be selected as a winner of the grant funding. I know it will go a long way in helping our business grow and thrive in the months and years to come.”

EDGE Grant Recipients

STEM class

Desikant (Wilmington)
Founded in late 2019 by Kwaku Temeng, Desikant Technologies created technology that incorporates electronics into protective gear to actively exchange warm, humid interior air with cooler, drier ambient air. The company’s current project is developing and testing a cooling vest that surgeons can wear to prevent heat exhaustion during long surgeries. Desikant will use its grant to add new capabilities (intelligent, automatic operation) to its technology toolkit and pave the way for developing products for demanding, high value, and profitable applications.

Curative Sciences (Newark)
Curative Sciences is an early-stage life science start-up developing a comprehensive treatment platform for Oral Mucositis, tissue swelling in the mouth often caused by cancer treatment. The platform includes light-based therapy as well as oral care products for the management of intermediate to long-term oral side effects of cancer therapy. The grant will allow Curative Sciences to develop the next generation of their light-based therapy device.

Resonate Forward (Newark)
This company was established to commercialize technology to help mitigate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The grant will make it possible for Resonate Forward to develop a manufacturable prototype and design for their RMband device that mitigates tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease. In addition, grant funds will also be used to help the company secure research/office space at the University of Delaware’s STAR campus.

Neggster (Wilmington)
Always looking to solve problems, Newark’s Kasai Guthrie will be utilizing his EDGE funding to enable young adults to learn how to responsibly manage money and eventually hopes to transform his clients into entrepreneurs. Neggster, Guthrie’s new banking app, will teach its users how to better oversee their funds and to guide them to a more prosperous future.

Aqua Science (Newark)
Aqua Science LLC is a biotechnology start-up that supplies high-quality testing solutions for the water quality testing market, including biosensor-based products, lab services, or complementary products sourced from others. The company created a BioLight product line used for toxicity testing of water and soil by municipalities, industrial companies, and utilities who demand high-quality results and adherence to regulation. They will use the grant funding to develop a luminometer to be used with the BioLight kits.

Entrepreneur class

Doña Maria’s Pupuseria (Seaford)
Making Seaford a better place, one storefront at a time is exactly what Craig de Mariana Aleman and his family are all about. With their EDGE funding, Doña Maria will be expanding their restaurant outside and offering hand-dipped ice cream services to locals. While dining outside, customers will also be able to enjoy a beautiful new mural that Craig will commission, highlighting a local artist.

Elite Feet (Middletown)
Elite Feet is a local, family-owned and operated retail specialty running store that sells high quality footwear and apparel for the entire family. The company will use grant funds to create a mobile retail store in a climate-controlled trailer. The mobile trailer will allow customers to be fitted for and purchase athletic shoes while attending races or other events, increasing the company’s profits and return on investment.

Taco Jardin (Smyrna)
Charles “Cheeks” Kelchner and his business partners are passionate about great things – specifically, street tacos served from their food truck, Taco Jardin, located at the Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna. Chef Cheeks will be utilizing his newly obtained EDGE funding to purchase another food truck to take his fare on the road throughout Kent County.

Paragon Life and Fitness (Wilmington)
Vickie George, co-founder of Paragon Life and Fitness, believes that engaging in exercise should not be just for the elite or the able-bodied, and inclusiveness should have a place in the fitness industry. Paragon Life and Fitness plans to use its EDGE grant funding to open a fitness facility for adults and people with physical disabilities that will include wheelchair/dual accessible equipment.

Grail Sports (Elsmere)
Founder Eugene Delle Donne launched Grail Sports LLC during the summer of 2018 with aspirations to penetrate the sports media world. After evolving from specializing in online blogging and podcasts, in January 2021, Grail Sports entered into a lease agreement to acquire a 24,000 square foot gymnasium to create an elite training facility for youth programs called the Grail Sports Complex. EDGE grant funding will be used to renovate the lower level of the sports complex to allow Grail Sports the opportunity to offer indoor training in multiple sports.

1440 Film (Wilmington)

1440 Film Co. is a full-service video production company located in Wilmington that specializes in commercials, documentaries, and branded content. The company will use grant funding to purchase a cargo van and various grip filmmaking equipment in order to continue delivering high-quality work that is creative, engaging, and makes an impact on its clients.  

Tempest Risk Management (Wilmington)

Tempest Risk Management provides world class business continuity and disaster recovery solutions to businesses and communities enabling them to survive and thrive. EDGE grant funding will be used to build and launch the Tempest Risk Management Portal giving Delaware’s small and medium business owners instant access to critical resources when they are needed during a business emergency or disruption.

Brimming Horn Meadery (Milton)

When Jon Talkington and JR Walker opened the Brimming Horn Meadery in Milton, Delaware in 2017 they had no idea how quickly their niche corner of the market would grow. Fast forward to 2021 and now the meadery is yet again expanding their horizons into the food truck industry. With their newly acquired EDGE funding, Jon and JR will be opening a Viking-themed food truck to complement their meads and serve their hungry clientele.

Gingham + Grace Clothing (Harbeson)

Jami Jackson has grown her once small online boutique shop to a brick-and-mortar storefront in Harbeson, Delaware where her clients receive excellent customer service and one-of-a-kind pieces. With her EDGE funding, Jackson plans on investing in new inventory to grow sales, with hopes to bring on a new employee who can help her better serve her patrons in Delaware and the 29 other states that she ships to currently.

Delaware Tool Exchange (Newark)

This veteran-owned company acquires tools and equipment on a consignment basis and offers them for sale at fair market prices from a brick-and-mortar industrial facility in Newark. The company will use its grant to lease, build out, and open a second location in or near Newark, and equip their existing location with an integrated system to receive, inspect, clean, and repair tools more efficiently.


Governor Carney Signs Senate Bill 127

Legislation creates Site Readiness Fund to promote job creation, economic growth

MIDDLETOWN, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 127 alongside members of the General Assembly, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, business owners, and local elected officials. This legislation was laid out in the Governor’s 2021 State of the State Address.

Senate Bill 127 creates a Site Readiness Fund that will promote economic growth and stability by investing in the development or improvement of commercial and industrial sites to attract job-creating businesses. The Fund will provide grants, loans or other economic assistance to qualified businesses or local governments that invest in constructing, renovating or improving infrastructure for sites that will attract new businesses or expand existing businesses within the State.

“We are competing for jobs every day, and we are working hard to ensure Delaware’s future and ongoing economic success,” said Governor Carney. “This legislation will allow us to quickly convert existing properties to meet the needs of prospective employers, spurring growth and new business investment. It’s just another way we are makingDelaware a top choice for businesses to start here and stay here. Thank you to all the members of the General Assembly, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, and the Division of Small Business for their work on this legislation.”

“A good-paying job can change lives,” said Senator Jack Walsh. “But in today’s highly competitive environment, you can’t just sit back and hope your state will attract major employers. You got to work at it every day. Thankfully, Governor Carney, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the Division of Small Business are doing exactly that, and this legislation gives them another tool in their tool belt to help attract the kinds of companies and construction projects that will put our neighbors to work for years to come.”

“To ensure Delaware’s future and ongoing economic success, we need sites that can accommodate businesses and expedite the start-up time for new companies,” said Representative Bill Bush. “By taking this proactive approach in developing a ready supply of sites, we’re keeping Delaware competitive with surrounding states by attracting and retaining businesses with high-quality jobs.”

“Businesses who are considering locating in Delaware often need to make significant infrastructure investments, whether by constructing a new site or renovating an existing one. The Site Readiness Fund provides us the opportunity to offer those businesses an added incentive that can give us an advantage over other states,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. “In today’s economic climate where competition among states and globally is heavy, this fund is a critical piece in expanding and sustaining economic growth in Delaware.”

“At a time when there is significant competition from other states, the Site Readiness Fund is an important tool in our economic development toolbox that we can use to stay competitive and incentivize businesses to locate in Delaware,” said Jordan Schulties, Director of the Division of Small Business. “The fund will go a long way in helping our state attract and retain businesses that will create quality jobs for Delawareans.” 

“This measure furthers the efforts of Delaware Prosperity Partnership and its many statewide partners because the improvements it will fund will help businesses choose Delaware for their location or expansion,” said Kurt Forman, President and CEO of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. “DPP is grateful to the General Assembly for its support of this legislation and for its investment in ensuring that sites throughout the state are ready for the kinds of investment and job growth we all value.”

Photos from today’s bill signing can be found here.

Rewatch the bill signing ceremony here.

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Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund Council Makes First Recommendations

The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (TIIF) Council, an initiative announced by Governor John Carney in 2019, has made its first recommendations for project funding to Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan and Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock.

The council has recommended eight projects receive a total of $8.8 million in grant funds that will go toward infrastructure investments providing a public benefit and assist in the creation or relocation of more than 1,300 jobs in the state.

“We greatly appreciate the council’s work in reviewing the merits of each applicant and look forward to reviewing their recommendations,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

“The TIIF is a unique opportunity to offset infrastructure costs that may have prohibited these companies from expanding here in Delaware and is another tool now available to us to support our business community,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock.

State Representative and council member Bill Bush added, “As chair of the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce committee, I continue to advocate for helping businesses grow across our state and I am very pleased with the process we’ve created with TIIF to do just that.”

“The grants provided by TIIF will create a real public benefit and an immediate impact on businesses that are eager to expand and add good jobs in Delaware,” commented Joe Westcott, market president for Capital One and chair of the TIIF Council.

The recommendations put forth by the council are:

APPLICANT RECOMMENDED GRANT NEW/RELOCATED JOBS
CHRF LLC $250,000 18
FMIIV (Project Cape) $600,000 159
RIG Acquisitions LLC (Fort DuPont RV Resort)  $1,350,000  5
Incyte Corporation  $1,092,154 952
Lakeshore Motor Corporation  $521,929.10 25
Miller Metal Fabrication $313,000 6
N.K.S. Distributors  $1,151,816.90 4
Peninsula Regional Health System  $3,570,000 150

TIIF was established to provide economic assistance for renovation, construction, or any other type of improvements to roads and related transportation infrastructure in order to attract new businesses or expand existing businesses in this Delaware, when such an economic development opportunity would create a significant number of direct, permanent, quality full-time jobs.

The members of the TIIF Council appointed by Governor Carney are Rob Book, Martin Nunlee, Cornelia Johnson, Mona Parikh, John Riley, Bill Strickland, and Joe Westcott, who serves as chair. Representative Bill Bush and Senator David Sokola were appointed by their respective chambers to represent the General Assembly on the council.

More information on TIIF can be found at de.gov/TIIF.


DSHA Announces $9 Million in Funding Available for Downtown Development District Project Rebates

DOVER – Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is accepting applications through June 1 for large project rebate reservations through the Downtown Development Districts (DDD) program. Investors who make qualified real property investments in one of 12 designated districts can apply for a rebate of up to 20 percent of eligible costs. The designated districts are: Clayton, Delaware City, Dover, Georgetown, Harrington, Laurel, Middletown, Milford, the City of New Castle, Seaford, Smyrna and Wilmington.

“Community development is central to DSHA’s mission, and we are pleased to be able to offer this funding to support continued economic growth in our downtowns,” said DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi. “We know many businesses and homeowners across our state are grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and we want to remind them that the DDD program can be a valuable resource during this time. Funding is available for restaurants working on renovations, a property owner looking to upgrade office space or the homeowner undergoing an extensive residential rehab project.”

The application period is for large property construction or redevelopment project investments of more than $350,000. Applications for small projects – an investment between $25,000 and $350,000 – are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year based on available funding. During this funding round, $7 million is available for large projects while $2 million is available for small projects.

Investments eligible for DDD rebate funds include capital investments on rehabilitation, expansion or new construction for commercial, industrial, residential or mixed-use buildings within the district boundaries. Rebates are issued after the project is completed. Qualified applicants include property owners, tenants, for-profit developers, nonprofit organizations, businesses and homeowners.

Established in May 2014, the DDD program was created to spur private capital investment in commercial business districts and other neighborhoods; stimulate job growth and improve the commercial vitality of our cities and towns; and help build a stable community of long-term residents in our downtowns and other neighborhoods.

Since the first reservation awards in April 2015, the DDD program has been a catalyst for private investment in Delaware’s downtowns, with $36 million in rebates through the program leveraging $582 million in private investment in designated downtown districts in all three counties.

Applications for large-project rebate funding must be received by DSHA by 4 p.m. on June 1. Additional information and application materials are available at www.destatehousing.com/ddd or can be obtained by calling DSHA at 888-363-8808.


State Treasurer Attends Closing Bell at NASDAQ

Event featured World Trade Center Delaware and the Port of Wilmington

State Treasurer Colleen C. Davis visited the NASDAQ Stock Exchange on Monday with World Trade Center Delaware and the Port of Wilmington. The Treasurer and Delawareans attended the iconic Closing Bell ceremony at the Exchange, which celebrated Delaware’s significant contributions to the global economy.

“Delaware’s unique economic environment was on display to an international audience at the stock exchange on Monday,” said Treasurer Davis. “The collaboration between various industries, nonprofits, and governments makes our business atmosphere one-of-a-kind, and is one of the reasons that most companies are incorporated in our state.”

The Treasurer was interviewed by Nasdaq Inc. Director of Global Accounts, Rob Phillips, along with Carla Sydney Stone, President of World Trade Center Delaware, and Dave Harriss, Commercial VP of GT USA Wilmington, the operator of the Port of Wilmington.

Event participants traveled to New York City to meet with private equity investors and international companies with interest in trade, ports, and logistics, as well as attend the closing bell ceremony.