Sussex County is expanding its economic development efforts with a new small business loan program supported in part by a $250,000 donation from the Discover Community Development Fund, managed by the Delaware Community Foundation.
The ExciteSussex Loan Program is a public-private partnership with Sussex County, Discover Bank and the National Development Council that’s designed to help companies grow their businesses in Sussex County.
It allows qualifying businesses located within three targeted zones of Sussex County to borrow money for building, expansion or adding new equipment. The economic zones are focused on western and central Sussex County, and loans range from $250,000 to $1 million.
The $4 million loan program is funded by a $750,000 contribution from Sussex County, with Discover Bank providing $3.25 million, $250,000 of which came from the DCF fund.
Discover has partnered with other communities in the state, including the city of Wilmington, to expand these kind of economic development opportunities, said Amy Walls, assistant community reinvestment act director for Discover Bank.
“We launched the program in partnership with the City of Wilmington and we are excited to now be able to bring it to Sussex County which is where our branch is,” Walls said.
William Pfaff, Sussex County economic development director, said county officials saw an opportunity to expand the existing loan program it had operated since 2004 and target development in a part of the county that has been economically underserved. The program provides low-interest loans up to 25 years for construction and building improvements and 10 years for major pieces of equipment.
Through the partnership, Discover provides 75 percent of the capital with municipalities offering the remaining 25 percent. Sussex County had $750,000 from its previous loan program, and Discover contributed the remaining $250,000 as a grant to bring the total to $1 million.
“The county is a great place to do business,” Pfaff said. “We’ve done a good job marketing it as a tourist attraction. This is also a great place to expand your business. We want you to stay here.”