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10 local start-ups get a boost from the state

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
The winners of the first round of EDGE grants were announced Wednesday

The State Division of Small Business announced the ten winners of its first round of EDGE grants Wednesday.


The grants went to five science and technology companies, including a Harrington-based CBD oil extractor and a Wilmington-based agricultural biotech company, as well as five entrepreneurial companies, including a Greenville hair salon and a Seaford-based sign company. 

A total of more than $700,000 was awarded in the first round of Encouraging Development, Growth & Expansion (EDGE) grants, which is being matched by more than $300,000 in investments by the businesses.

The EDGE grant program provides businesses that have been in operation less than five years and have 10 or fewer employees with a three-to-one match on business funds for expenses like equipment, advertising or building infrastructure. 

Damian DeStefano of the state’s Division of Small Business says early capital is essential for businesses. “I think a lot of times you look around the country, entrepreneurs who otherwise could be very successful, fail at an early stage because they don’t have money to make their idea a reality.”

Gov. John Carney paints the program as part of a larger effort to make Delaware a business-friendly state. “To specifically help small businesses has proven to be difficult,” he said. “What we can do is create incentives like this program to promote entrepreneurial activities and to support small businesses.”

Tomeka Crawford is the owner of Tomeka’s Homestyle Eatery, currently a mobile vendor selling mac and cheese and other soul food at locations such as the farmer's market in Dover. She received a $50,000 EDGE grant to outfit her first brick-and-mortar restaurant with a commercial kitchen. 

“I outgrew my space as being a vendor. I would sell out every week, so I’ll better suit my customers by going into a brick-and-mortar, and this is something that the EDGE grant is going to make come true for me.”

Crawford plans to lease a formerly vacant space on Loockerman Street, within the Dover Opportuntiy Zone. She says she expects the new space to triple her capacity, with fifty to sixty seats. 

"I plan to bring a breath of fresh air to the community that I serve, and also give back to the community," she said. "Like the homeless shelter, I often feed them quarterly. So I plan to keep doing that. And also, I'd like to cater to some of the worker that work downtown, and also those who visit. I want to bring them into the downtown area."

The state is currently accepting applications for the second round of EDGE grants until Oct. 11. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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