Small Business

Senator Tom Carper chats with Ginny Rodgers of Studio One Eleven in Wilmington

Within just a few blocks in downtown Wilmington, one can find craft brewers, at least two creative studios, a pop-up holiday-themed bar and Delaware's only day spa for men.

As Small Business Saturday nears, Senator Tom Carper (D- Delaware) visited several downtown businesses accompanied by Wilmington Alliance Executive Director Renata Kowalczyk. The Wilmington Alliance, a non-profit organization, formed several months ago out of a merger between the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation and the Wilmington Leaders Alliance.

While she is pleased with what's happening downtown, Kowalzcyk would like to see other neighborhoods realize their potential for small business growth and start-ups.

"We are now expanding our efforts and looking at what can we do for all the neighborhoods to make sure that the entire city is lifted up," Kowalczyk said. "I think that's really important."

Cost of living, quality of life and walkability are significant attractions in Wilmington, according to Kowalczyk.

Ginnie Rodgers, owner of Studio One Eleven, has managed to grow business especially since locating the men's spa inside the Hercules building several years ago.

"We continue to grow... new customers every day," Rodgers said.

Carper said the downtown area is also starting to draw more residents, and whether or not they work in Wilmington they'll want to shop locally and take advantage of services that are nearby.

What are would-be entrepreneurs looking for?

"They tell us they need workforce. They need to have people who are able to do the work, trained to do the work and be reliable. They also need access to capital," Carper said.

"The other thing they need is certainty and predictability, sort of a steady hand from our government, national and state," Carper added.

"That's a work in progress."