John Carney is Delaware's 74th Governor.

On a recent visit to AgroLab in Harrington, I watched robots test soil samples while staff analyzed data that would allow farmers to improve their crops and increase their yield.

Here, at the intersection of agriculture, Delaware's largest industry, and high-tech, the future of Delaware's economy, is an impressive small business helping to strengthen our state.

It was another opportunity to do one of the things I find most rewarding about being Governor – meeting the men and women who have turned their passion, vision and hard work into small businesses. These companies put food on the tables of nearly 220,000 Delawareans and have accounted for more than half of the state's net job growth since the Great Recession.

I love to hear the inspiring stories of their successes and how the creativity and enthusiasm they have for the work they do has enabled them to build successful companies despite all the challenges that come with starting a business.

The same day I saw AgroLab, I also spent time at O'Connor Belting International in Newark, one of the only firms in America capable of fabricating custom conveyor belts used in an array of industrial processes around the world. I was there not only to see the great work of OCBI's 23 employees but also to unveil the state's new EDGE Grant program.

Since my time as lieutenant governor and congressman, it has been clear to me Delaware could be doing more — and needed to be doing more — to support small business. As your governor, I have been looking for innovative ways to address that issue.

EDGE (Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion) is one of the most important results of that effort.

Time and time again I hear from business owners about their challenges related to affordable health care, availability of talent and access to capital. EDGE directly tackles the third concern and answers a question that has long existed but has not been addressed until now: how can state government help promising early-stage companies obtain the financing they need to succeed at the early stages of growth?

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Through a competitive process, we intend to award multiple rounds of matching grants of up to $100,000 to five science- and technology-based companies, and up to $50,000 to five other companies across a wide range of sectors – from manufacturing to retail to hospitality. 

We designed EDGE to be as flexible and nimble as the entrepreneurs we hope it will help.

Instead of dictating exactly how the money must be used, we are largely leaving it to the business owners to make proposals to us about what would best help their businesses grow.

The Delaware Division of Small Business, an agency of the Department of State, will run the program as part of its mission to put a direct focus on serving the state's 25,000 companies with 100 or fewer employees, which account for 98 percent of all Delaware businesses.

The Division was one of two major outgrowths of a process I initiated on my first day as your Governor to reimagine how state government supports and helps grow the economy. From that also came the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, a public-private organization that leads our efforts to attract, grow and retain business.

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New organizations, along with new programs, are spurring growth in the state's private sector.

Delaware's Angel Investor Tax Credit, which my administration worked with legislators to create, provides a 25 percent refundable tax credit on investment in high-tech companies in a host of industries, including financial technology, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy.

Delaware also participates in the federal Opportunity Zones program that gives favorable tax treatment for investment in designated economically-distressed areas. 

More information on these initiatives is available at the Division of Small Business's website, www.delbiz.com. Visit the website to learn more about other services the state offers to help start or grow a business – including the division's Regional Business Managers, dedicated staffers working one-on-one with companies to across Delaware to navigate government processes, connect with partners and find access to capital.

The creativity of our entrepreneurs and the determination of their teams have helped to make Delaware a better place. As your governor, I will continue to work to find ways to support their success and make sure all of our citizens reach their fullest potential. 

It is my hope that programs like EDGE will do just that.

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