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This op-ed originally appeared in The News Journal.
Small business plays an oversize part in Delaware’s economy, accounting for 98 percent of businesses and employing almost 220,000 of our friends, neighbors and loved ones.
The Division of Small Business, an agency of the Department of State, is moving in an exciting new direction to help drive this crucial economic engine. The goal is to make Delaware the friendliest state in the U.S. for small business, and we are already well on our way to earning that distinction.
The Division is leading the effort to provide Delaware small business owners with more of the resources, assistance and guidance they need to grow and prosper.
Each of its five Regional Business Managers covers a specific region of Delaware. They work one-on-one with business owners to customize the help they need at crucial points in the growth of their companies.
One of the managers’ primary responsibilities is to help businesses navigate regulatory processes with state agencies, such as the Division of Public Health, DNREC or DelDOT.
It could be assisting a restaurant owner who needs one last inspection to get the doors open, or helping a new company get certified as a minority- or woman-owned business.
Helping businesses cut through red tape is critical. Delaware entrepreneurs want to spend their time working with their investors, vendors and customers, not the government.
Our Regional Business Managers also act as sounding boards for their clients and knowledgeable advisers who can direct them to the hundreds of programs offered by chambers of commerce, government agencies and organizations such as the Small Business Development Center or SCORE Delaware.
This vision is not self-invented. It is the result of conversations with small business owners from all walks of life and economic development stakeholders throughout the state. The Division asked what they wanted from the new agency, and now it is working to provide it to them.
The Division’s new website, DelBiz.com, is a great example of a how we’ve turned the feedback we received from the small business sector into action.
The site includes the Business Resource Connection, an interactive portal that can search 300 programs offered by more than 80 partner organizations so companies can find the right help at the right time. There is also a comprehensive calendar of events of interest to small businesses from organizations across Delaware, all in a single place.
Delaware’s small business owners already know what people around the country are discovering: Our state is a great place to do business.
Delaware has been recognized as a top-10 state for women and minority business owners. Wilmington is ranked one of the 20 best small cities in the U.S. for starting a business.
And a new report from the Milken Institute ranked Delaware No. 7 in the country for the strength of its science and technology sector.
We’re working to continue that strong momentum.
If you own a Delaware small business, or are looking to start one, visit DelBiz.com to see how the Division of Small Business can help you.
Jeff Bullock is Delaware’s 80th Secretary of State. The Delaware Division of Small Business is an agency within the Department of State.