Economic Gardening grants program available to blossoming businesses in Sussex

GEORGETOWN – Sussex County is offering a crop of cash grants to help cultivate economic success among blossoming businesses in southern Delaware.

Sussex County officials this summer are promoting a first-of-its kind offering in the First State, called Economic Gardening, that offers growing businesses the opportunity to tap information, resources, and capital to reach a new level of success.

The county’s Economic Gardening initiative will identify and assist second-stage companies located in Sussex County by delivering customized data that addresses their strategic growth issues, and, in turn, provides grants to those second-stage companies that have moved beyond the start-up phase but not yet reached maturity.

Five grants of $5,000 each are available to qualified businesses that apply and are selected.

Second-stage companies are sometimes referred to as scaling or emerging growth companies that typically employ 10 to 99 workers, with annual sales revenues of $1 million to $50 million.

Sussex County Council has authorized up to $25,000 for the initiative, with a maximum of $5,000 per second-stage business in the first year. Once businesses are chosen to participate in the program, an information analysis will be provided in key areas such as core strategies, market dynamics, innovation and qualified sales leads, said William Pfaff, Sussex County’s Economic Development Director. Within these areas, each business will be assigned a national strategic research team, Pfaff added.

William Pfaff

“The teams will leverage sophisticated corporate-level tools and skills, from commercial databases and geographic information system mapping to search engine optimization and digital marketing,” Mr. Pfaff said.

Economic gardening, a nationally-known program developed by the Center for Economic Gardening, was founded in 2001, but has never been deployed in Delaware. During its nearly 20-year history, the center has demonstrated increased job growth in numerous communities. Through economic gardening, participating businesses have tripled sales tax revenues from $6 million to $21 million without incentives, recruiting or tax rebates.

Mr. Pfaff also noted that economic gardening is “not a program established for companies that are in trouble or companies that need specific assistance, such as an inventory type of process. Rather, this is really for companies that are beyond the start-up phase and have the desire to grow to the next level.”

Applications are available by calling the Sussex County Economic Development Office at 855-7770. Once received, applications will be ranked based on interviews with the company’s CEO or equivalent and evaluated by the county, as well as the National Center for Economic Gardening.

Agreement awards will be based on the company’s ability to grow and bring new money and jobs into the county. Application deadline is Aug. 26, 2019.

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