Governor Carney and Legislators Announce Bill to Spur Investment in Innovative, Delaware-based Small Businesses

Bipartisan Angel Investor Job Creation and Innovation Act establishes 25 percent tax credit for investments in innovation

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney and legislators in the Delaware House of Representatives on Friday announced new legislation – the Angel Investor Job Creation and Innovation Act – that would establish a refundable tax credit for qualified investors in innovative, Delaware-based small businesses, to spur job creation and innovation.

The bipartisan legislation, House Bill 170, was filed on Wednesday and is sponsored by Representative Michael Ramone. Additional House sponsors include Representative Bryon Short, Representative Melanie George Smith, and Representative Dave Wilson. Senate sponsors include Senate President Pro Tem David McBride and Senator Cathy Cloutier.

“We should do everything we can to support Delaware’s innovators and entrepreneurs who are leading Delaware’s new economy,” said Governor John Carney. “This legislation would encourage investments in innovative, Delaware-based small businesses and connect our most talented entrepreneurs with the resources they need to be successful. Thank you to all the members of the General Assembly who are leading this important initiative.”

“If we in the state are serious about fostering economic development in Delaware, and I believe we are, then the Angel Investor Job Creation and Innovation Act must take effect sooner rather than later,” said Representative Michael Ramone. “The funding that would be available through this legislation is critical in helping scientific or technology small businesses get off the ground and begin operating. This will be the second time we have tried to enact such a measure. I introduced a similar bill last year and I am hopeful, that with the Governor’s support this year, we can enact this important bill.”

“Startup and fledgling businesses often face difficult times in their early stages. An infusion of capital can be the difference between a company thriving and closing up shop,” said Representative Bryon Short. “By encouraging angel investors through a tax credit program, we could be opening an avenue that gives new businesses that shot in the arm they need at a critical time. This is just one more step we can take to help revitalize Delaware’s economy.”

“Our future rests with people whose names we probably don’t even know, who are creating new breakthroughs in science and technology,” said Senate President Pro Tem David McBride. “But those brilliant innovators need help to take their ideas from the drawing board into our homes and businesses. I think this bill creates an avenue to spur that growth and help keep Delaware’s place as a home of innovation and invention.”

“Government doesn’t create jobs, but it can provide incentives to build the businesses that do. I am very excited about this Angel Investor Job Creation and Innovation Act that could give that extra boost to so many of our promising startup companies,” said Senator Cathy Cloutier. “I’m happy to put my support behind it.”

The Angel Investor Job Creation and Innovation Act would establish guidelines for awarding a tax credit worth up to 25 percent of the investment in a qualified, Delaware-based small business. Businesses receiving the investment must pay decent wages, employ fewer than 25 employees, and engage in innovation in one of several areas as its primary business activity.

Qualified business activities include:

  • Using proprietary technology to add value to a product, process, or service in a qualified high-technology field
  • Researching or developing a proprietary product, process, or service in a qualified high-technology field
  • Researching, developing, or producing a proprietary product, process, or service in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing, wildlife preservation, environmental science, financial technology, or transportation
  • Researching, developing, or producing a new proprietary technology for use in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing, financial technology, or transportation

The Angel Investor Job Creation and Innovation Act has been assigned to the Economic Development Committee in the Delaware House of Representatives.

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Downtown Development Districts (DDD) Program Expands

Governor Markell designates new districts in Smyrna, Milford, Harrington, Georgetown and Laurel

• Governor Markell made the expansion announcement during an event on Wednesday in Downtown Smyrna
• Since last year, $14 million in Downtown Development Districts grant funding has leveraged more than $200 million of private investment in Wilmington, Dover and Seaford.
• Smyrna Mayor: DDD designation will “ignite even more progress.”
• Funding round for large projects is scheduled to begin in early September
• Lawmakers unanimously approved the DDD program in 2014

Smyrna, DE – Governor Jack Markell on Wednesday announced a statewide expansion of Delaware’s Downtown Development Districts program, significantly building on the state’s efforts to redevelop Delaware’s commercial business districts and drive private investment in towns and cities.

Governor Markell officially designated five new Downtown Development Districts – in Smyrna, Harrington, Milford, Georgetown and Laurel. Investors who make qualified improvements to residential, commercial, or industrial properties in those districts now may qualify for state and local development incentives, including 20 percent state grant rebates.

“The Downtown Development Districts program already is driving major investment in our cities, from Market Street in Wilmington to the banks of the Nanticoke River in Seaford,” said Governor Jack Markell. “More Delawareans than ever want to live and work in walkable, urban areas. This expansion will help meet that demand by encouraging private development of downtown areas statewide.”

Since early 2015, the Downtown Development Districts program has helped finance major new private development in the original districts in Wilmington, Dover and Seaford, with $14 million in state grant funding leveraging more than $200 million of private investment. Governor Markell made the expansion announcement in downtown Smyrna on Wednesday morning, joined by local officials representing the new districts.

Quotes from new DDD representatives

“We are excited about the transformation that will occur in the next few years in Downtown Smyrna. Smyrna has been working hard to grow our Downtown, and the Downtown Development District designation will help ignite even more progress and at a quicker pace,” said Smyrna Mayor Joanne Masten. “The grant program will open doors for our wide range of developers and business owners with opportunities to further strengthen our town. We’re grateful that Governor Markell has made this initiative available to so many wonderful downtowns in Delaware.”

“We are extremely excited about our selection as a Delaware Development District partner with the State of Delaware,” said Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe. “The Downtown Development District application process has been a great experience for the City of Milford. It has allowed us to explore and evaluate the public and private, commercial, and residential assets within the downtown district.

“Determining an overall economic development strategy that encourages private investment from existing businesses and home owners as well as prospective investors, the City of Milford has created a series of incentives that rewards individuals and businesses that enhance the quality of living within the district,” Shupe said. “The benefits created by the State of Delaware DDD program, including the potential for grants up to 20 percent of hard costs for private investments, will create a vibrant economic environment where public-private partnerships can create jobs and further economic opportunities in downtown Milford.”

“Harrington is very honored to accept the Governor’s Downtown Development District Designation and I feel this is exactly what Harrington needs to jumpstart its Downtown Revitalization,” said Harrington Mayor Anthony R. Moyer. “The City recently adopted a Downtown Development District Plan with input from the community, various organizations, downtown businesses and a Downtown Task Force with support from the City Council and Planning Commission. The Plan would not have been possible without the Neighborhood Building Blocks Grant Fund.

“A special thanks to our City Manager, Teresa Tieman, and her staff, as well as Debbie Pfeil and Lauren Good of KCI Technologies, Inc. for leading the efforts with these initiatives and the very competitive designation application,” Moyer said. “The City recently approved five District specific incentives and ten other citywide incentives, created several development resources, and ensured infrastructure was in place. With this designation, our Downtown is certain to prosper, maintain its character, and be the center of our community.”

“The Town Council and I are committed to the revitalization of our downtown and firmly believe this designation, combined with significant local incentives, will help kick start both residential and commercial investment within our main commercial district,” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West. “Initial efforts will be to complete our implementation plan, communicate the designation to all properties within the district boundaries, and invite new and existing projects to take advantage of this opportunity. We appreciate the continued support from both the Office of the Governor and the Delaware Legislature for this worthwhile program. We look forward to the positive impact of this designation on the Town of Georgetown.”

“The development district designation will give Laurel a very important new tool to stir new development along broad creek to support eco tourism, establish new businesses and revitalize homes in our historic area,” said Laurel Mayor John Shwed.

DDD Background

The DDD program, administered by the Delaware State Housing Authority, was created by legislation proposed by Governor Markell and passed unanimously in May 2014 by the General Assembly. In January 2015, Governor Markell designated the downtown areas of Seaford, Dover and Wilmington as Delaware’s first three Downtown Development Districts.

To incentivize development, applicants receiving DDD grants are eligible for up to 20 percent of their construction costs in the form of a rebate. Grants are awarded only when projects are complete. Local incentives also are available for qualifying projects.

In Laurel, for example, local incentives include property tax relief and coordinated cross-agency efforts to help investors build homes, promote homeownership and rehabilitate vacant properties. Smyrna is offering business consulting services, discounted utility charges and assistance from a Revolving Loan Fund for Downtown Development District investors.

Downtown Development District Incentives

In early September, the Delaware State Housing Authority will launch a new funding round for large projects in each of Delaware’s Downtown Development Districts. Nearly $8 million in funding will be available for projects statewide. Applications to fund small projects – defined as investments of less than $250,000 in a designed downtown district – are accepted on a rolling basis.

“We’re thrilled to work with homeowners, developers, and small business owners to drive investment in all of the newly-designated districts,” said Anas Ben Addi, Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority. “This program is working, and we’ve seen the proof in Wilmington, Dover and Seaford. We look forward to even more progress statewide.”

Governor Markell announced in March that the DDD program would expand through new district designations. Delaware’s Office of State Planning Coordination led the process to review the applications and designate the new districts. Applications were scored based on the town or city’s need for Downtown Development District incentives, the jurisdiction’s downtown revitalization plan, and the creativity of its incentive package.

“All of Delaware’s towns and cities are unique, and I am so pleased that we were able to expand this program to the five diverse communities being recognized today: Laurel, Harrington, Smyrna, Milford and Georgetown,” said State Planning Director Constance Holland. “The best part of this program is that it supports such a wide range of redevelopment activities so each town can thrive. This program demonstrates that the state supports all of our local governments and their visions of economically vibrant, healthy, and complete communities.”


Governor Signs Legislation that Supports Delaware Entrepreneurs, Builds on Record-Setting Job Growth

Enacts Governor’s State of the State proposal to improve access to capital

Wilmington, DE – Today at the coworking space The Mill in downtown Wilmington Governor Markell signed legislation that will give entrepreneurs across Delaware increased opportunities to access capital to grow their businesses.

Sponsored by Representative Bryon Short (D-Highland Woods) and Senator Brian Bushweller (D-Dover), HB 327 permits the use of online crowdfunding platforms and allows Delaware residents to be investors in Delaware start-ups and small businesses, expanding the potential pool of investment capital while also giving Delawareans the chance to be early stage investors in these ventures. The measure enjoyed broad bi-partisan support and was passed unanimously in both houses of the General Assembly last month.

“At a time when small business and entrepreneurs have a bigger stake in our state’s economic future we want to make sure that those with ideas to start new businesses and expand their employment have the opportunity to succeed right here in Delaware,” Governor Markell said. “By demonstrating support across state government for Delaware’s growing entrepreneurial sector, we’re taking another step to build on Delaware’s record-setting job growth in the years to come.”

The Governor highlighted the crowdfunding initiative during his State of the State address earlier this year and it follows action by the Congress, through leadership from Congressman John Carney, which gives states the flexibility to permit citizens to more easily invest in startups. Around the world, crowdfunding allows companies to raise billions of dollars, and this year for the first time this amount of investment is expected to exceed funding provided through traditional sources like venture capital.

“We need to make sure our laws keep pace with technology so that our small businesses have access to new methods of raising much-needed capital,” said Representative Bryon Short, the bill’s prime sponsor in the House. “Delawareans have a strong sense of pride in locally owned and operated businesses. This law takes steps to help new companies by enabling Delaware residents to invest and participate in the success of homegrown Delaware start-ups.”

Through the legislation the Governor signed into law today, Delaware-based companies will be permitted to offer equity stakes to Delaware residents or other Delaware businesses over internet platforms. (Due to Federal law, Delaware cannot permit investment from residents of other states.) While the new statute requires certain disclosures to ensure the validity of the offerings, it does not require issuers to make detailed financial disclosures that might be prohibitively costly for many small businesses and start-ups. It permits a business to raise up to $1 million over a 12-month period and an individual to invest up to $5,000 in any one offering.

“We must strike the right balance between protecting the public from fraudulent activity and making sure our small businesses can access investment capital, and this bill accomplishes that,” said Senator Bushweller, the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this into law.”

“This law is a recognition of the changing landscape of how businesses are conceived and financed in the 21st Century,” said Representative Lyndon Yearick, R-Dover South. “There are many examples of businesses that got their start through online crowdfunding. It’s time we allow Delaware entrepreneurs to tap into a resource that could help them turn a dream into a viable enterprise.”

“Any advantage we can give our home-grown companies is a benefit in the new economy,” said Senator Greg Lavelle. “It’s important to give Delaware companies access to Delaware investors, and any time we can do that in a safe and responsible way, we should.”

The Delaware Attorney General’s Investor Protection Unit will maintain oversight of sale registration and equity offerings.

“It has never been more important to maintain a nurturing and supportive economic environment in our state that will encourage growth for small businesses,” said Congressman Carney. “I am proud that I was able to join a bipartisan effort in Congress to make it easier for small businesses to access needed capital through new, innovative platforms, which has paved the way for our state to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“This bill represents an economic development opportunity for small businesses in Delaware and encourages Delaware citizens to engage more directly with businesses they want to support,” said Rich Heffron, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce President. “This is exactly what we need to encourage growth and to expand Delaware’s entrepreneurial culture.”


50 Graduate from Innovative Workforce Employment Program

State’s partnership with Generation USA Youth Employment Program prepares young First Staters to succeed in new economy

New Castle, DE – Governor Markell today joined hundreds of friends and family members who celebrated the graduation of 50 Delawareans who have recently completed the Generation USA Youth Employment Program, a partnership with the McKinsey Social initiative, and are on the path to securing employment in a variety of in-demand fields.

This evening’s ceremony in the Clarion Hotel’s Belle Golden Ballroom recognized individuals who have completed training through the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program and the new customer service program, which prepares participants for a range of customer-facing roles, including in hospitality and retail companies. Additionally, the CNA program is currently holding classes and Generation is recruiting 50 students to begin the customer service training program in May.

“We’re working hard to give every Delawarean the opportunity to succeed by acquiring the skills to compete in today’s knowledge-based economy,” Markell said. “The graduates who have completed Generation employment programs have embraced the opportunity to earn meaningful employment and proven that when they’re given encouragement and the tools to succeed, they have the ability to meet that challenge. I am grateful for the commitment that McKinsey Social Initiative and Generation have made to Delaware and am proud to support our growing partnership.”

In his 2015 State of the State address, Markell announced the launch of the initiative as part of a multi-pronged effort to ensure all Delawareans have access to the education and job training necessary to thrive in today’s fast-changing economy. With the state’s backing, Wilmington was selected as a pilot city for Generation, a workforce employment program of McKinsey Social Initiative that targets young workers, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are either unemployed or underemployed, offering career-building training in fast-growing professions. In August, 15 graduates completed the first program, which offered accelerated CNA training. Seven more nursing students and 43 customer service graduates were honored tonight.

“Generation’s graduates inspire us through their success. We offer our warmest congratulations to the latest Wilmington graduates, and we are thrilled to have them join the growing numbers of program alumni in the region,” said Dr. Mona Mourshed, Executive Director of Generation. “Generation’s success would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our students and graduates, as well as the strong partnerships we’ve forged over the past year with Governor Markell and the many wonderful local organizations who continue to help us deliver and expand the program.”

Students are selected through a competitive application process, receive 6-8 weeks of intensive training, pass necessary industry certifications, and receive individual assistance from instructional and support staff to secure interviews and employment. Generation works in Delaware with a range of local partners, including nearly a dozen employers who make a commitment to hiring program graduates. The Delaware Department of Labor has provided grants to help support these efforts.

Generation Wilmington classes have been offered in conjunction with the Wilmington campuses of Delaware Technical and Community College and Springfield College.

“Prior to joining the Generation program, I saw no way to earn a better education or jump start my career,” said customer service program graduate Ronné Robinson. “Generation made me see that I was capable of doing class work at the college level and could achieve even more in life through my consistent efforts and hard-work.”

“I had lost my job and had tried for months to find employment on my own. I found myself frustrated, stressed, and on the verge of losing hope,” said Shyla Rosa, who also just completed the customer service course. “Generation showed us that none of us are above growth and putting our best foot forward is necessary if we want success for ourselves and family. Today I hold a mid-level position with the opportunity to join a management training program.”

The Generation program integrates technical training in the classroom and at job sites, along with behavioral and mindset skills, which helps students prepare to overcome both workplace and personal challenges. Social support and mentorship is available to all students throughout the full-time course to enable even the most vulnerable young people to be successful, and students receive stipends to cover basic transportation and other costs. Generation ensures that graduates continue to have access to support and regular follow-up contact for the first six months of their employment.

McKinsey Social Initiative
Founded by McKinsey & Company in 2014, McKinsey Social Initiative applies problem solving expertise to develop innovative approaches to complex social challenges. McKinsey Social Initiative implements individual programs, each of which focuses on a single issue and brings together partners from the private, public, and social sectors to create solutions. It is an independent 501(c)(3). Generation is McKinsey Social Initiative’s first program.

Interested young people or employers can contact generationwilmington@mckinseysocialinitiative.org or visit the Generation website at www.generationinitiative.org to learn more about its training program.


WSFS Announces Small Business Loan Program

WSFS Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:WSFS), the parent company of WSFS Bank, today announced that it has created the WSFS Small Business Loans-for-Job Creation Program. Under this new program, through the end of 2011, WSFS Bank will make available a special pool of $25 million to qualified small businesses located throughout the marketplaces it serves.

“In supporting our mission to strengthen our communities, the WSFS Small Business Loans-for-Job Creation Program will provide loans to help small businesses grow immediately and help fuel the broader economy,” said Mark A. Turner, WSFS President and Chief Executive Officer. “WSFS has been lending to businesses throughout this extended downturn,” continued Mr. Turner. “We also know small businesses are the engine of job creation and they have been hit especially hard over the last several years. Creating this program allows us to do our part to support small businesses right here, right now.”

“WSFS has a long record of helping Delawareans access the credit they need to start and grow a business,” said Sen. Carper. “It’s been tough out there the past several years for small business owners to find affordable access to capital, and I’m proud that a Delaware community bank is helping to extend this much needed credit to Delaware small businesses. I applaud WSFS’s Small Business Loans-for-Job Creation Program, which is another step in the right direction to get our economy moving and help put Delawareans back to work.”

“This announcement from WSFS is exciting news for Delaware’s business community,” Sen. Coons said. “The WSFS Small Business Loans-for-Job-Creation Program is a model for the type of institutional support that businesses need to grow and create jobs, and I’m optimistic that it will give Delaware’s economy a much-needed shot in the arm. This is how communities help get people back to work – by working together to help small businesses grow and create jobs. This program is win-win for Delaware.”

“Helping small businesses succeed is critical to creating jobs and strengthening the economy,” said Congressman Carney. “I applaud WSFS Bank for developing the Small Business Loans-for-Job Creation Program and making resources available that will directly benefit small businesses in our community. This is exactly the type of support needed to grow the economy and help get Delawareans back to work.”

Creditworthy businesses with annual revenues up to $10 million that commit to using the funds for immediate investment (equipment investment, hiring of employees, etc.) will be eligible for loans up to $500,000 with no closing costs or other bank fees and at an attractive fixed rate. Business owners interested in the WSFS Small Business Loans-for-Job Creation Program can call Cheryl Rodriquez at 1-877-WSFSBIZ to learn more about this program.

About WSFS Financial Corporation
WSFS Financial Corporation is a multi-billion dollar financial services company. Its primary subsidiary, WSFS Bank, is the oldest, locally-managed bank and trust company headquartered in Delaware with $4.2 billion in assets on its balance sheet and $9.3 billion in fiduciary assets, including approximately $1.0 billion in assets under management. WSFS has 48 offices located in Delaware (38), Pennsylvania (8), Virginia (1) and Nevada (1) and provides comprehensive financial services including commercial banking, retail banking and trust and wealth management. Other subsidiaries or divisions include Christiana Trust, WSFS Investment Group, Inc., Cypress Capital Management, LLC and Cash Connect. Serving the Delaware Valley since 1832, WSFS is the seventh oldest bank in the United States continuously operating under the same name. For more information, please visit www.wsfsbank.com.