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Mitchell tapped to lead Division of Small Business

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Regina Mitchell  Delaware Division of Small Business DSB

Regina Mitchell was named the new director of the Delaware Division of Small Business this month. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney removed the acting title from Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell’s title earlier this month, making her the third person to officially lead the state office that supports the growth of state small businesses.

A Bucks County, Pa., native with a master’s degree in public administration, Mitchell moved to Delaware with her husband six years ago and first joined Carney’s Office of Management and Budget. She transitioned to the Division of Small Business (DSB) as business finance director in 2018, where she oversaw grant and loan applications and research. In 2021, Mitchell was promoted to deputy director under then-Director Jordan Schulties and took on the acting director role after her predecessor left to join the state Department of Technology and Information.

“Regina has the work ethic, experience, and leadership skills to lead the division through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” Secretary of State Jeff Bullock, who oversees the division, said in a statement announcing Mitchell’s promotion. “Regina’s ability to identify solutions to meet the needs of the small business community from Claymont to Delmar will be critical in getting Delaware even closer to the goal of being the No. 1 state in the nation for starting and growing a small business.”

On Wednesday, Mitchell told Delaware Business Times that the division’s unique focus on the state’s smallest businesses was the reason she vied to lead the office.

“I really like the focus on small business because I think they tend to get lost a little bit in the larger economic development picture,” she said, noting that more than half of all Delawarean workers are employed by small businesses.

Delaware EDGE grant recipient February 2023

Gov. John Carney (center) and Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell (left) pose with the February 2023 EDGE grant recipients. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSB

Mitchell is well-acquainted with the office’s programs, having worked for DSB since its launch in 2018. It is responsible for supporting small businesses through a network of resources, including the taxpayer-backed state grant program known as Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) grants. It awarded a round of those grants in February.

As director, Mitchell also leads the Delaware Economic Development Authority, which manages and administers taxpayer-backed grant funding to businesses of all sizes. Its programs include the most well-known, including the Strategic Fund, Site Readiness Fund and Lab Space Development Fund.

Looking back at her tenure to date, Mitchell said that she was proud of the aid that DSB was able to get to small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, which totaled more than $200 million to more than 4,000 businesses.

“We heard from a lot of them that it really did make a difference and let them continue to stay in business,” she said.

While the crisis forced the then-nascent state office to put its marketing into overdrive to reach residents, Mitchell said the DSB now has greater roots in the community.

“We were pretty new when the pandemic started and then we kind of had to shift our focus to ‘rescue mission’ for a couple years. So now it feels like we have an opportunity again to reset,” she said.

Small businesses by virtue of their small staff often don’t take advantage of resources they would be eligible for because they don’t have the time to seek them out.

Mitchell said that one of her goals is to ramp up non-grant-related programming that could assist small business owners in growing their businesses. She cited free webinars the DSB ran last year during Small Business Week on social media marketing, and a tool on its website called “Size Up Delaware” that is an industry benchmarking tool, as examples of the types of things they could undertake.

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