New initiative provides resources to businesses and entrepreneurs

Members of New Castle County’s administration are hoping a new website and program will help attract – and keep – entrepreneurs and small businesses eager to open up shop in the county.

On Thursday, Aug. 30, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced the formation of the NCC Innovates business web portal that provides “customer, market and industry information, workforce data and help identifying available commercial property,” according to a press release.

It also provides information on incubator grants awarded to promising startup companies through partnerships with local pitch competitions, like the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Swim with the Sharks” video pitch event.

Meyer said there is a lot of attention in New Castle County paid to larger companies with respect to economic development.

“There’s nothing more important that we do than making sure that the great ideas become companies, and the existing companies decide to grow here in New Castle County,” Meyer said. “This is an attempt to make sure that all the resources needed for an entrepreneur are at their fingertips.”

Last month, NCC Innovates awarded its first incubator grant to D150 Fueling, a company founded by four individuals from various other states.

The award comes with office space and amenities at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center, one-on-one business mentoring, business growth workshops and a one-year membership in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. 

County spokesman Jason Miller said NCC Innovates was created to support homegrown innovation and entrepreneurship to create sustainable local jobs.

“The big businesses are great, but the small businesses are the ones providing the most jobs, and that’s also where so much innovation is happening,” Miller said.

County Director of Economic Development Tamarra Morris said that the first glimpse of what the county needed to support small businesses came from the innovation and entrepreneurship transition committee formed by County Executive Matt Meyer when he took office in 2016.

“What stuck out was a lack of a combined database of resources and services, and a lack of support in general in terms of researching data and analyses to help companies start, and confirm that New Castle County was supportive,” Morris said.

The goal of NCC Innovates, she added, was to support the development of an entrepreneurship ecosystem in New Castle County, as well as supporting small business in general.

The program is more proactive in terms of making resources available to small businesses to show that the county is supportive, and a great place to grow your business, Morris said.

Morris said when she is asked what makes the county more attractive than other locations, including out of state, she points out that they can save businesses money and time, and have the workforce to fulfill their employment needs.

“One of the top points we point out to companies is that you will get a larger reaction in the county as opposed to a big city,” she said. “Here, 50 jobs is a big deal for us.”

They also stress the fact the cost of doing business in the county is low, as well as the county’s “Fast Track” development review process.

According to Miller, that program triggers a deliberate, coordinated review by the land use department for job-creating projects.

“That speeds up the time that job-creating projects get their review completed in,” Miller said.  

“In the past, we’ve lost companies to other areas … just because our processes needed some work,” Morris said. “We took a look at what we could fix right away, and then we began to develop a plan for how we go back and create a plan for opportunities to help businesses that are already here.”

Check out the NCC Innovates business web portal at nccde.ecdev.org.