Sometimes, even United States senators have to have fun.
That was the case for Sen. Chris Coons, who took advantage of his visit to Rehoboth Beach's Rehoboth Toy and Kite Company to shoot rubber band guns and try on silly hats. He also took the opportunity to shop for a gift for his daughter, Maggie.
Coons was in town, along with officials from Rehoboth, the Small Business Administration and Delaware Economic Development Office to see how small businesses in Rehoboth have used SBA loans to fuel their success.
Rehoboth Toy and Kite co-owner Rachel Webster told Coons she and business partner Bee Linzey learned about the SBA from their bank. Working with Bill Pfaff, Webster said they used the loan to launch their first store on Virginia Avenue and the Boardwalk. Rehoboth Toy and Kite, celebrating its 20thanniversary this year, later opened a second store at 67 Rehoboth Ave.
“I’m a huge advocate of it,” Webster said.
“The SBA is one of the strongest tools in our tool kit as we continue to grow the economy through real partnerships between the federal, state and local governments,” Coons said.
Asked how Coons could help small businesses, Webster suggested more affordable healthcare and having college students, who make up much of the summer work force, go back to school after Labor Day.
Also on the tour was Modern Mixture at 62A Rehoboth Ave. where owner Leo Cabrera took Coons on a tour of the two-year old restaurant before he moved on to Mariachi Restaurant, 14 Wilmington Ave.
John Fleming, the SBA’s Delaware District Director, said the SBA helped Mariachi’s through a 20-year fixed-rate loan for its building, a loan not available on the market that provides flexibility for the borrower.
Mariachi owner Yolanda Pineda said the loan process was very easy, with loan officers readily available to help.
“I would do it again,” she said.
Coons said businesses like the ones he visited promote steady job growth, and keep Rehoboth as an appealing, family-friendly destination.
As for what he can do to help, Coons said the Senate is considering extending an accelerated depreciation provision to incentivize business owners, especially restaurant owners, to buy new equipment, start a business or expand.
Fleming said, “Typically our loan customers look like what we have today. A lot of retail and restaurants. You can see our fruits here. It’s always gratifying.”
Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, said, “I look around and I see that they’re ready.” He said his office can help small businesses by streamlining and eliminating regulation and making it easier for businesspeople to do business.
In addition to Fleming and Levin, the tour included Rehoboth Mayor Sam Cooper, City Manager Sharon Lynn and Bill Hinz of SCORE Delaware.
“This is a great opportunity for us, on a beautiful day, before the full, summer season starts, to highlight for Delawareans the opportunities here in terms of job growth, business growth and upcoming family fun for the whole summer,” Coons said.