DOVER — Downtown Delaware and the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) have launched Project Pop-Up 2015. Now in its fourth year, the project lets entrepreneurs apply for three months of rent-free commercial space during the holiday season and the assistance of a business adviser from the move-in phase, to the grand opening and beyond.
The program also aims to stir economic activity by locating early-stage businesses in properties that were once vacant, but are now ready for occupants.
This year, DEDO is partnering with seven communities throughout Delaware to feature 13 commercial properties. The property “portfolio” includes some unusual spaces in several towns new to the program including, five commercial properties located near or along Broad Creek in Laurel; a unique retail space in the newly renovated historic Central Hotel in Delaware City at the origin of the Mike Castle Trail, a new eleven-mile walking/biking path that connects Delaware City with Chesapeake City, Md.; and several individual office suites at the Executive Center in downtown Seaford, where renovations will be completed just in time for a mid-September move-in. (For details and photos of properties, visit www.dedo.delaware.gov/popup.)
Communities include Delaware City, Dover, Laurel, Milford, Seaford, Smyrna, and on Union Street in West Wilmington.
“Small business is crucial to Delaware’s economy,” said Bernice Whaley, director of DEDO. “The Pop-Up program provides selected small business owners with a unique opportunity to expand their footprint and has proven to be a very effective strategy for vacancy reduction.”
For select small businesses, Project Pop-Up continues to offer an opportunity to gain business advisory support, increase business visibility, and generate revenue opportunities in the marketplace.
“We have found that Delaware’s downtown locations are a perfect place for small businesses to launch in ‘brick and mortar,’” states Ken Anderson, Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support Director for DEDO. “The best candidates are currently generating revenue and have an established customer base. The three-month time frame offers them a running start toward a successful long term lease in the Pop-Up location.”
Of the 14 businesses selected since 2012, 13 are still in business and nine are still in their original Pop-Up location. Two Pop-Up business owners have launched new businesses in addition to their original Pop-Up business.
Amy and Mike Perfetti of Delaware Branding Company in Milford expanded off-site to a T-shirt printing facility, and Karen Gill of Royal Treatments in Smyrna launched a new business, Smyrna Cards and Gifts, with her husband Woody.
Deadline for applications was Aug. 10. A panel of representatives from DEDO, Downtown Delaware and participating Main Street and affiliated towns will review applications to select the best qualified applicant for each space. Selectees will be notified by Aug. 28 and announcements will be made prior to Labor Day.
In preparation for opening the business, winners will participate in one-one consultations with a business adviser in September and strategically throughout the Pop-Up season to ensure likelihood of a successful launch of the business by Oct. 1, and beyond the initial three-month period, which ends Dec. 31.