This past fiscal year was one of growth for the Division of Small Business (DSB) as a resource for Delaware’s small business community. The Division worked to turn its vision of making Delaware the best state for starting and growing a small business into concrete programs that are benefiting Delawareans.
The Division’s Regional Business Managers, Business Finance Unit, and Tourism Office worked to find new ways to support small businesses, including helping companies connect with potential customers, showing them how to market in the digital age and finding new sources of funding.
These initiatives are increasing DSB’s ability to help companies and reinforcing Gov. Carney’s vision of an approach to economic development that puts a direct focus on small business.
Delaware’s 25,000 small businesses are the life blood of the state’s economy. They account for 98 percent of all businesses in Delaware and span the full range of industries, from beauty parlors to manufacturers to start-up biotech firms and everything in between.
Nearly 140 of those companies sent in applications as part of the Division’s most high-profile project of the fiscal year – EDGE (Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion) Grants. This program aims to help early stage businesses level the playing field against larger, more-established competitors.
The idea for what became EDGE was sparked during a trade mission to Ireland. I saw first-hand the positive results of government helping to address the issue of providing capital to small business.
Beyond EDGE Grants, the Division continued to offer other sources of capital for businesses, including through the Delaware Strategic Fund.
DSB also worked to connect small businesses with new markets. Launching Make Me a Match networking events, with help from multiple partners, provided a place for small businesses to pitch their products or services to purchasing agents from larger companies.
The Delaware Tourism Office continued to do a great job marketing Delaware as a destination for out-of-state travelers. Efforts, such as Firefly Music Festival shuttle service and a partnership with the Leipsic Oyster Festival, helped boost the state’s $3.4 billion tourism industry and enhance everything else we are trying to do in economic development. Simply put, more visitors mean more customers for small businesses.
The upcoming year promises to bring even more opportunities for the Division to work with businesses from Claymont to Delmar, to strengthen the state’s economy and to bring Delaware even closer to the goal of being the number one state in the nation for starting and growing a small business.
Jeffrey W. Bullock, Delaware Secretary of State