Vacant to Vibrant project gets initial funding

From Delaware Public Media  WMPH 91.7 Wilmington | Delaware’s Source for NPR News

Wilmington’s Creative District is getting a financial boost through a new $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) oversees the development of the Creative District.

Managing Director Dr. Carrie Gray said the grant will fund the planning of a project called Vacant to Vibrant. Her team plans to turn two vacant lots and two under used alleyways into artistic spaces.

The WRC’s Managing Director Dr. Carrie Gray says those alleys and lots are blank canvases and her team is still deciding on how to fill them.

“We’re expecting everything from a very serene, tranquil park-like setting to food truck rallies or arts and crafts festivals happen on that space or any kind of special event use that might be possible,” said Gray.

Gray adds the spirit behind the Creative District has always been creating spaces for gatherings and building an overall sense of community, and so before they start planning anything, WRC needs to involve the community.

“That will be part of the process, determining with the residents in the neighborhood and with artists and creatives in the creative district, on how they would like these lots to be used and function,” Gray said.

The spaces could be anything from quiet parks to spaces for local food trucks to gather, she said.

The WRC will likely have to apply for more grants to construct the projects. The planning and design deadline is winter of 2017.


Makerspaces: Fostering a 21st century business model

From Dr. Carrie W. Gray, Managing Director of  WRC, Special to the News Journal

I’m not surprised that Wilmington was recently named by DataFox as No. 5 on the list of 2015’s Best Cities to Found a Startup Outside Silicon Valley and New York.

Why should I be?

In the last five years, Wilmington’s start-up community has skyrocketed. Growing from hacking sessions and Meet Ups hosted at The coIN Loft (Wilmington’s first co-working space for tech-minded startups), to two more co-working/start up incubators, a second successful Tech2Gether conference, the launch of Delaware Innovation Week, Zip Code Wilmington and a chapter of Girl Develop It – it’s clear that Delaware’s tech community is only going to get bigger and better.

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Wilmington Renaissance Corporation, Creative District Wilmington and partners announce: NextFab New Addition to Wilmington’s Creative District

NextFab Studio, LLC, d.b.a. NextFab (“NextFab”) will soon expand operations south of Philadelphia and open a makerspace in downtown Wilmington with assistance from a $350,000 Delaware Strategic Fund grant recently approved by the Council on Development Finance.

“Known for our willingness to embrace change and foster growth, Delaware welcomes NextFab’s pioneering business model, bringing with it a focus on entrepreneurship and product development,” Governor Jack Markell said. “The company’s creative approach to making much-needed technological resources and education available, as well as its commitment to reinvigorating American manufacturing, makes NextFab a perfect addition to Wilmington’s downtown Creative District.”

Founded in 2009 by Dr. Evan Malone, NextFab’s mission is to foster personal fulfillment, innovation, and economic development through providing broad-based awareness of, access to, competence with, and commerce enabled by Next-generation digital design and Fabrication technologies and services. Like a gym for exercising your creativity, there are no prerequisites to joining NextFab as a member, and NextFab’s member community includes more than 650 individuals from every conceivable background. NextFab members have direct access to state-of-the-art equipment, software, training, consultants — everything they need to master new tools and techniques, and turn an idea into a product and product into a business. NextFab’s instructors and consultants span an enormous range of disciplines and experience, including engineering, arts, business, and science. NextFab currently operates two facilities in Philadelphia, and plans to open its latest 3,500 square-foot facility in Wilmington’s Creative District in the first half of 2016

“It has been more than a year since Dr. Carrie Gray of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) brought a stakeholder group from Wilmington to visit us in Philadelphia. Since that time, my colleagues and I have made frequent trips to Wilmington, and have been warmly welcomed into the community and inspired by champions of the past, present, and future of the city,” recalled Dr. Malone. “NextFab is honored and humbled that Governor Markell, Director Whaley, and the Council on Development Finance have entrusted to us some of the resources of the taxpayers of Delaware. We look forward to transforming those resources into tools, training, and technology in the hands of the innovators of Wilmington’s creative economy.”

“We are thrilled that NextFab has identified Wilmington’s Creative District as the right location for their expansion,” said Dr. Carrie W. Gray, WRC Managing Director. “NextFab’s makerspace will be the first of its kind in Wilmington and represents an integral next step for the Creative District. Not only will NextFab complement and enhance our existing tech, maker and entrepreneurial community, but it also represents a unique opportunity to create a key intersection between the arts and tech worlds that NextFab fosters so well.”

“We’re excited that NextFab chose to expand here in Delaware,” commented Delaware Economic Development Office Director Bernice Whaley. “In addition to creating jobs, NextFab will directly support our innovative entrepreneurs, as well bolster indirect job growth through its variety of services.”

 About NextFab
NextFab Studio, LLC d.b.a. NextFab, is a for-profit social enterprise focused on building diverse collaborative communities empowered by direct access to advanced manufacturing technology, and providing the training, consulting, and startup company incubation services required to turn ideas into products, and products into businesses.

About Creative District Wilmington
Wilmington’s Creative District is a part of a national wave of creative placemaking initiatives that seek to transform urban areas. This community revitalization project encompasses the area bounded by Fourth, Ninth, Market and Washington Streets and is driven by a strong collaboration from a variety of partners: Chris White Community Development Corporation, Christina Cultural Arts Center, City of Wilmington, Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware, Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association and Wilmington Renaissance Corporation. The Creative District is generously supported by Bank of America, Delaware Division of the Arts, Delaware State Housing Authority, Delmarva Power, JPMorgan Chase, Longwood Foundation, TD Bank Foundation, United Way of Delaware and WSFS Bank.

About Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC)
Founded in 1993, WRC is a privately funded, nonpartisan nonprofit organization. WRC’s mission is to invigorate downtown Wilmington through strategies and projects that stimulate the city’s economy and vitality, solidifying it as a center of educational, cultural and social activity and an exciting place to live, work and visit. Some of WRC’s groundbreaking projects include: establishment of the Downtown Wilmington Business Improvement District; rejuvenation of the LOMA neighborhood; creation of the innovative Delaware College of Art and Design; attraction of a world-class cycling competition; and the implementation of a highly successful four-year public art program. Currently, WRC’s core strategic initiative is facilitating the implementation of the vision for Wilmington’s Creative District (CD) as Wilmington’s creative center, focused on innovative production and consumption, where creative entrepreneurs – artists, musicians, designers and tech innovators – and neighborhood residents thrive and where locally designed goods and original works are made and consumed.

About the Delaware Economic Development Office
The Delaware Economic Development Office is an executive state agency responsible for attracting new investors and businesses to the state, promoting the expansion of existing industry, assisting small and minority-owned businesses, promoting and developing tourism and creating new and improved employment opportunities for all citizens of the State. Visit

WRC’s June Creative Chat: Dream Streets

WRC held its fifth Creative Chat on Wednesday, June 10, at the Chris White Gallery that featured special guests Margaret Winslow, Associate Curator for Contemporary Art of Delaware Art Museum, Michael Kalmbach, Executive Director of Creative Vision Factory, and accomplished artist Rick Rothrock. Winslow moderated a discussion with Kalmbach and Rothrock about the history that informed the exhibition Dream Streets: Art in Wilmington 1970-1990. Kalmbach and Rothrock described motivations and processes behind past art projects and how they engaged the Delaware community. Specific projects mentioned include Kalmbach’s involvement with the Kalmar Nyckel mural and Rothrock’s creative projects displayed throughout the Brandywine Zoo.

Photo by Brian Wild Photography

Photo by Brian Wild Photography

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Artist Mixer: The Business of Art

Thursday, July 30th, 5:30pm
Chris White Gallery, 701 N. Shipley Street, Wilmington

Creative District Wilmington teams up with SCORE® and Delaware SCORE as they present a free workshop on how to help artists and arts entrepreneurs choose the right path forward in developing their business. The presentation will provide an overview of SCORE’s services and how they can help individuals make strategic decisions about their business. An artist who has been working with SCORE will also share their experience of this kind of support and how it has impacted their work.

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You’re invited! First Artist Housing for Homeownership in Wilmington’s Creative District Kick-off Event

PLEASE NOTE LOCATION CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER FORECAST: This event will now be held indoors at the Friends Meetinghouse, 401 N. West Street, Wilmington.

(WRC) and Creative District housing partner, Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware (ICHDE) will host a kick-off event to announce the renovations of the first artist’s housing development for homeownership entitled, Willing Street Artist Village to be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 3pm on Friends Meetinghouse, 401 N. West Street, Wilmington. Governor Jack Markell, Mayor Dennis P. Williams, Delaware State Housing Authority Director Anas Ben Addi, Rick Gessner ICHDE Chair and Capital One 360 Vice President as well as Glenn Moore WRC Chair and Delmarva Power Vice President will be among the guests speaking at the event.

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WRC’s 2015 Annual Meeting: Placemaking: Why it Matters

WRC’s 9th Annual Meeting, “Placemaking: Why it Matters,” took place on Tuesday, May 5 at World Cafe Live at The Queen. Attendees were updated on the continuing development in Downtown Wilmington as well as provided a presentation on WRC’s core strategic project Wilmington’s Creative District (CD), a vibrant city center, focused on innovative production and consumption, where creative entrepreneurs – artists, musicians, designers and tech innovators – and neighborhood residents thrive and where locally designed goods and original works are made and consumed.

Photo by Alessandra Nicole

Photo by Alessandra Nicole

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