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Downtown Dover Partnership launches new program to assist existing merchants

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

The Downtown Dover Partnership (DDP) launches a new program to assist area business owners regain and sustain profitability and attract customers.

The new Business Retention/Expansion Assistance Program (REAP) provides grants up to $2,000 to qualified downtown Dover business owners with an existing store in the Dover Central Business District.

Downtown Partnership executive director Diane Laird explains why the program was created.

"The Downtown Dover Partnership typically helps businesses through retention measures, events and promotion through Capital Queue and other programs to bring them into stores," she said. "But we found that through our recruitment programs we were fairly satisfied and successful but we were not providing grants to our existing merchants.” 

Laird notes those existing merchants have already made an investment in downtown Dover - and REAP is an effort to to help them expand, move to a new location or open another location - anywhere in the business district.

Otis Brooks, Owner of Tastee’s Chicken and Seafood.
Submitted photo
Otis Brooks, Owner of Tastee’s Chicken and Seafood.

Otis Brooks, the owner of Caribbean Cuisine, and now Tastee’s Chicken and Seafood on S. New Street, was the first recipient of REAP funds.

“I used the funds to purchase food and even to pay salaries. The grant came at a good time,” Brooks said.

To qualify for a REAP grant a business must be in good standing, have operated for one year in their current space and provide a well thought-out plan for expansion.

Laird says $10,000 is set aside for REAP grants this year. If the program is successful, she says they have additional resources to replenish that funding.

Business owners can download a REAP application here.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.