WILMINGTON, DE –Delaware Governor Jack Markell, SBA officials, Delaware Byway Management officials, and ‘South Bridge Connects’ Commercial District Affiliate representatives, as well as representatives of Delaware’s Congressional delegation, the City of Wilmington Mayor’s Office, and Wilmington City Council conducted a press conference and small business walking tour through the Southbridge business corridor, a connector segment of Delaware’s ‘Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway’ and important gatewayinto the City of Wilmington, today, March 10, 2015 – ‘Harriet Tubman Day.’ The event announced a Delaware Byway Committee convening with SBA advisory council to promote statewide economic growth by partnering Delaware’s scenic and historic byways with the small businesses lining those routes. This pilot partnership program is slated to launch on the Tubman Byway (a roadway route tracing some of Harriet Tubman’s documented movements through Delaware) with input from byway-adjacent neighborhood groups like ‘South Bridge Connects’ and ultimately expand to all six Delaware state-designated byways. Following the formal announcement, officials visited businesses lining the Tubman Byway’s path through Southbridge, highlighting SBA resources they are using to gear up for growth and designating them as the State’s first officially ‘byway affiliated businesses’ by affixing a byway emblem to their storefronts.
“This pilot program will look at revenue drivers for Byway affiliated businesses like: coupons (known in other states as “Byway Bucks”); tourist discovery areas within businesses; signage and byway improvements; and grant opportunities to entice tourists to visit byways and patronize their businesses,” explains Delaware DOT Byways Coordinator, Ann Gravatt. “Rollout of the first byway business affiliation incentives, Tubman Byway-wide, is slated to begin with the 2015 tourist season. This pilot program aims to demonstrate increased patronage in Byway-affiliated businesses to promote year-round, statewide tourism in Delaware and instill new a sense of neighborhood pride in our byway communities, all while helping First State businesses succeed. This is truly a ‘win-win’ scenario.”
“This, frankly, seems like a good idea on a number of fronts,” agreed Del. Governor Jack Markell, as he addressed the crowd gathered for Tuesday’s announcement. “We all have a stake in homegrown Delaware business’ success,” agreed John Banks, SBA Delaware Deputy District Director. “Small businesses like the ones along the ‘Tubman Byway’ in Southbridge tie communities together. They are what make ‘home’ ‘home.’
“We are proud to support their success by supporting programs like this pilot partnership program for small businesses lining Delaware’s byways; encouraging businesses to start in or relocate to historically underutilized business zones (“HUBZones”) like Southbridge to take advantage of federal government contracting opportunities through SBA’s HUBZone Program; and providing entrepreneurs with financing, technical assistance and federal government contracting support.”
Officials followed the ‘Tubman Day’ announcement with a walking tour of some small businesses along the ‘Tubman Byway’ that are affiliating with the ‘Tubman Byway’ and are working with SBA and its resource partners to gear up for growth. Those businesses were:
Harvest Christian Retail Stores
333 New Castle Ave.
Wilmington, DE 19801
Owner: Suzette Flemming
Opened in 2014, this Southbridge shop offers religious literature and products, as well as custom flower arrangements. Owner Suzette Flemming attended SBDC small business classes and used SBA’s online business classes to help launch her business and will consult SBA-backed business counselors as she grows her business.
Sepia Cleaners Pre-Paid Dry Cleaning
336 South Heald Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Owner: Tyrran Smith
Opened in 1970, family-owned Sepia is one of
Southbridge’s oldest businesses. Sepia is
beginning work with SBA to investigate
growing the business through federal
government contracting and with the SBA-
backed Delaware SBDC to refine its business
Ms. Bonnie’s Savvor the Flavvors Seefood Restaurant
518 New Castle Ave.
Wilmington, DE 19801
Owner: Bonnie White
Bonnie White first built a following for her southern-style seafood menu at her original location near the Port of Wilmington. In 2014, she closed that location to relocate out of state. White returned to her native Delaware in 2014, opened her current New Castle Ave. location, and is eager to expand her restaurant footprint and parlay her recipes into a frozen foods manufacturing business. Currently, she is working with the Delaware SBDC to develop her business plan and take on her business dreams –strategically.