The City, PDFF and Wilmington Alliance select “Bringing informal entrepreneurs into the formal economy and providing them with resources to grow their businesses” as the yearlong project focus.” 

WILMINGTON, Del. (September, 17 2020)To support small businesses citywide and to develop a system that levels the playing field for access to resources, Mayor Mike Purzycki and City Council President Hanifa Shabazz are announcing a partnership with the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation, and Wilmington Alliance to participate in the National League of Cities (NLC) City Innovation Ecosystems [] program (CIE).

The City Innovation Ecosystems program asks city leaders to commit one year to creating the right policies, programs, and practices to ensure their communities can thrive in the global, innovation-driven economy. In the program’s inaugural year, 50 cities ranging from rural townships, to college towns, to major metros and linked with over 200 local partners to deploy over $100 million in regional and national resources to support young business, leverage technology, and expand STEM education for all.

On September 18, the team from Wilmington will participate in the NLC Mayor’s Conference on Entrepreneurship [] and announce that Wilmington has selected “Bringing informal entrepreneurs into the formal economy and providing them with the resources to grow their business” as  the yearlong project focus. Entrepreneurs come from every background and are growing businesses in every industry. While they all have the potential to succeed, many do not have access to the resources or support they need.

“Wilmington is an innovative and creative City because our residents and businesses are committed to working together to ensure our City’s growth and to spread prosperity to all who live and work in the First City of the First State,” said Mayor Purzycki. “We accept the challenge offered by the City Innovation Ecosystems program to create the right policies, programs, and practices to ensure that our community can thrive in the global, innovation-driven economy, and we are ready to do the work to bring informal entrepreneurs into the formal economy and provide them with the resources to grow their businesses.”

“I have been involved in the National League of Cities for many years and have brought other best practices back to Wilmington.  As a member of their Advisory Council, I am extremely proud that we are moving Wilmington on to this national stage as a leader in equity and entrepreneurship,” said Council President Shabazz.  “To continue moving Wilmington forward, we need a thriving small business sector.  I appreciate Wilmington Alliance and the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation and their willingness to partner with the City on this essential community-based economic development initiative.”

Wilmington Alliance and the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation will lead the project through the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Wilmington. [] E3 Wilmington’s mission is to build a citywide strategic coalition of partners designed to identify, vet, incubate and accelerate the launch of new businesses, with targeted focus on Black and Brown entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs will receive a comprehensive needs assessment and will receive a customized acceleration plan with coaching and guidance in business planning, marketing, and promotion, technology infrastructure as well as optimizing space planning (virtual offices, co-working space, or dedicated offices). Finally, when appropriate, the E3 ecosystem partners will help increase access to funding opportunities.

“Our work at the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation has demonstrated that great ideas can come from anyone, regardless of background or economic means,” stated Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation Executive Director Stephen Sye. “However far too often we see that without critical supporting resources, connections and capital many entrepreneurs struggle to succeed. Our E3 program aims to provide the type of support that will allow the best ideas to flourish while leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs of color who often are unable to begin on equal footing as others. I’m excited that the City of Wilmington is elevating its commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“Since the establishment of the Wilmington Alliance in July of 2019, we have put every aspect of our work in the city through the lens of equity and inclusion,” said Wilmington Alliance [] CEO Renata Kowalczyk. “Like the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation, the Alliance views entrepreneurship as a key path to prosperity.  We need to make this path more accessible and equitable for entrepreneurs and I am thrilled that the Mayor has approved our participation in this national program.”

The program year will include technical assistance from nationally recognized program experts, quarterly peer-learning conference calls with other commitment-making cities, quarterly webinars on innovation and entrepreneurship topics, as well as opportunities for public recognition of the work Wilmington is doing.



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