New Downtown Dover program helps merchants 'reap' rewards

By Logan B. Anderson
Posted 11/1/22

DOVER - The Downtown Dover Partnership has launched a new program to assist existing merchants to reap success in the downtown business district. 

The program – literally called REAP …

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New Downtown Dover program helps merchants 'reap' rewards

Posted

DOVER - The Downtown Dover Partnership has launched a new program to assist existing merchants to reap success in the downtown business district. 

The program – literally called REAP – Retention/Expansion Assistance Program was created to help downtown businesses stay and grow. Small business owners that have been established and operating successfully in downtown for at least a year are eligible.

Otis Brooks, owner of Caribbean Cuisine, and now Tastee’s Chicken and Seafood at 147 S. New Street, is the first recipient of REAP funds. 

“I used the funds to purchase food and even to pay salaries. The grant came at a good time,” said Mr. Brooks.

He sells chicken, shrimp, crab, calamari and many varieties of fish seven days a week. Mr. Brooks opened the new food establishment shortly before a fire at the corner of New and W. Loockerman streets occurred, and this has created a significant reduction in foot traffic due to the sidewalk closure.

DDP Executive Director Diane Laird said, “Three businesses have launched through the Unlock the Block program which focuses on recruitment of new businesses. But until now, a similar small grant program for local merchants that had already made an investment in a downtown location did not exist.  That’s why we initiated REAP.”  

REAP provides grants of up to $2,000 to downtown Dover business owners that meet eligibility requirements and expand in one of several ways, including enlarging an existing sales footprint or moving their business into a larger downtown location, expanding a product line to gain a new customer audience, or launching an entirely new business in a separate downtown location.    

In addition to business expansion, REAP also addresses retention of existing merchants. Funds can be used for critical needs such as physical and digital improvements, new equipment, technology, and training to support growth. 

REAP funds can be coupled with other grant programs.

“We keep merchants well informed of the many different resources available to support their growth.  We also offer one on one advisement to small business owners, explaining incentives available in Dover and how to successfully apply for them,” said DDP Operations Manager Tina Bradbury who works with business owners. 

Applicants of the REAP and Dover Revolving Loan Fund are also required to complete advisement and technical assistance provided by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or other subject matter experts focused on topics that are intended to advance the knowledge, skills, and profitability of the business owner that receives funding. 

Downtown business owner eligibility and application requirements for REAP, along with many other incentives offered through the DDP, City, County and State, may be found here.

The Downtown Dover Partnership is committed to driving an improved quality of life for the residents and visitors of Dover, Delaware, through collective collaboration, economic development and promotion of downtown Dover’s unique historic properties.  Call 302-678-2940 or visit: www.DowntownDover.com.

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