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New center to support entrepreneurship in Dover

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U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester discusses the impact of the new Center for Urban Revitalization and Entrepreneurship (CURE) at Delaware State University while pointing to a rendering of the future building in downtown Dover. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSU

DOVER – The city of Dover is undergoing “an extraordinary revitalization and renaissance,” and soon to contribute to that is the new Center for Urban Revitalization and Entrepreneurship (CURE), according to Delaware State University (DSU) President Tony Allen.

CURE was conceptualized by the National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor Research Fund (NCALL) — a nonprofit focused on creating affordable housing opportunities and encouraging community development — in collaboration with DSU’s Center for Enterprise Development. 

The center will serve as a small business incubator, in addition to housing NCALL’s Restoring Central Dover program and a collaborative business space operated by DSU. It will be built on an empty lot at 225 W. Division St. near the former Wesley College campus now known as the DSU Downtown Campus.

“This is really what holistic community development looks like,” NCALL Executive Director Karen Speakman said at a Tuesday press conference.

The project was awarded $1 million in federal earmarks backed by U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) in April. Of the 150 project applications received by the congresswoman’s office, only 10, including CURE, were able to be submitted to her Congressional committee for consideration, Blunt Rochester said.

The goal of the project is to build upon community investments already taking place in Dover and in Delaware more broadly.

Every year, DSU and its programs make an $80 million economic impact on the city of Dover, part of a $260 million impact in the state as a whole, Allen said.

NCALL has also made significant developmental headway in the area. Over the years, the organization has leveraged more than $15 million into Dover projects, as well as assisting nonprofits in building 1,300 units of rental housing, originating $158 million in loans for affordable housing and community development, and educating and counseling 9,800 Delaware households in homeownership. 

NCALL’s partnership with DSU combines nearly 75 years of community development experience and will make a lasting impact, according to Blunt Rochester. 

“It is really about curing our communities, our families, our state,” Blunt Rochester said. “The investment we’re making today is a seed that will bloom and blossom for generations to come.”

Visiting the site for CURE, it is evident that the facility’s location will allow it to be an accessible and collaborative space, Blunt Rochester told Delaware Business Times.

“It’s one thing to talk about a project. It’s another to see the ground,” Blunt Rochester said.

Securing a location in the midst of the community was essential to the project, Speakman told Delaware Business Times.

This will make it easy for locals to access CURE’s services, particularly as it relates to its role as a small business incubator. NCALL will incorporate its launcher program, which offers support and resources to entrepreneurs, into the facility downtown.

Entrepreneur Tina Hudson Beamer opened her own business, Tina’s Timeless Threads, in 2019 in downtown Dover after participating in NCALL’s launcher program.

“The program…will be great for entrepreneurs to find great resources to be able to open their own businesses, whether it’s financial, to find real estate, or just an ear to talk to,” she said. 

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