Delaware Grows: Homegrown Popcorn And Tech Startups

Fisher’s Popcorn will invest nearly $5M in to expand its manufacturing and wholesale operations in Frankford, DE. Plus, 15 up-and-coming tech companies earn grants in Startup302 competition.

Fisher’s Popcorn will continue to grow in Delaware, with a new $4.85 million facility in Frankford that will more than quadruple space for its manufacturing and wholesale operations. The company, which has produced hand-crafted gourmet popcorn in Delaware for 40 years, currently has a 2,000-square-foot production facility in Fenwick Island.

Fisher’s new production facility will be almost 10,000 square feet, located on a 17-acre site just off the U.S. Route 113 corridor. The new space will allow the company to utilize new equipment – including two kettles and a large packaging machine – that will increase production capacity many times over. For example, bag-packing capabilities will rise from eight bags per minute to 30 to 35 bags per minute.

Fisher’s Popcorn Delaware Grows
(Source: Delaware Prosperity Partnership)


Fisher’s Popcorn of Delaware currently has 22 full-time employees staffing its manufacturing, retail, wholesale and e-commerce operations, all of which are in Sussex County. The company plans to create 20 additional wholesale jobs at the new site over the next three years.

“Fisher’s Popcorn has been a part of the Delaware beach experience and the Sussex County business community for 40 years, and we’re glad the company has chosen to expand here for its next phase of growth,” said Governor John Carney. “Delaware is a great place for manufacturing. This new facility will enable Fisher’s Popcorn to better serve its existing customers and grow its production and wholesale operations.”

Fisher’s Popcorn officials presented to Delaware’s Council on Development Finance an application for a Jobs Performance Grant of $60,000 and a Capital Expenditure Grant of $145,500 from the Delaware Strategic Fund to support the company’s investment in construction, fit-out costs and new equipment. Distribution of grants from the Delaware Strategic Fund are dependent on the company meeting commitments as outlined to the CDF, which reviewed and approved Fisher’s Popcorn of Delaware’s request for up to $205,500 in total grant funding.

“We’re very grateful for the opportunity to expand our operations while still being part of our local community here in Delaware,” said Vice President Russell Hall, who runs the company’s wholesale and e-commerce divisions. “This expansion will enable us to bring the classic flavors of the Delaware beach resorts to more people around the country while adding quality jobs in Sussex County. The grant assistance from the state is a key component to making this happen.”

Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) began helping Fisher’s Popcorn explore how it could continue to grow in the state in 2022. Bill Pfaff, director of economic development for Sussex County, provided additional assistance throughout the site search and other location processes.

15 Tech Startups Win Grant Funding

After competing with 169 applicants from throughout Delaware and across the U.S. as well as Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Italy, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, 15 tech-enabled startups with at least one team member from an underrepresented demographic will share $198,000 in non-dilutive grant funding from Delaware’s third Startup302 competition. The contest was coordinated by DPP along with partners from throughout the state and beyond.

Delaware Grows startup 302Finalists competed in five primary categories and represented multiple industries in the final pitching round on April 27, which took place in person for the first time in Startup302’s three-year history.

“What an exciting day! Having the chance to recognize innovative startups, both those from Delaware and around the country, at an event here in Wilmington in conjunction with our partners in the community, was an immensely rewarding experience, and a great chance to show off Delaware to our competitors from outside the First State,” said DPP Director of Innovation Noah Olson.

The three finalists in each category, and their monetary awards, are:

Sponsors: Delaware Prosperity Partnership, Discover Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., M&T Bank

  1. KidVestors® of Louisville, KY: $21,000
  2. Stakana Analytics of Seattle, WA: $11,000
  3. Fleri of Columbus, OH: $6,000

Clean, Green and Blue
Sponsors: Delmarva Power, DuPont, FMC Corp., The Innovation Space

  1. Ecotone Renewables of Pittsburgh, PA: $25,000
  2. New Breed Meats of Atlanta, GA: $14,0000
  3. Frontline Waste of Delray Beach, FL: $6,000

Early Stage
Sponsors: Delaware Prosperity Partnership, Delaware State University, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

  1. SomnOSA of Baltimore, MD: $10,000
  2. MiraHeart of Baltimore, MD: $6,000
  3. of Los Angeles, CA: $4,000

Life Sciences
Sponsors: Delaware Bioscience Association, Delaware Prosperity Partnership, Highmark Delaware, The Innovation Space

  1. ReHeva BioSciences of Dublin, OH: $22,000
  2. MyoGene Bio of San Diego, CS: $12,000
  3. GelSana Therapeutics of Boulder, CO: $6,000

Delaware Tech-Enabled
Sponsor: Delaware Division of Small Business

  1. Toivoa of Wilmington, DE: $22,000 + one-year World Trade Center Delaware membership
  2. College Essay App of Bethany Beach, DE: $13,000 + one-year World Trade Center Delaware membership
  3. Rush Roto Studio of Dover, DE: $6,000 + one-year World Trade Center Delaware membership

Uvax Bio To Invest $8M, Expand In Delaware

The early-stage biopharma company will expand its vaccine research, development and commercialization operations, bringing 63 new jobs to Newark over next three years.

Finalists with University of Delaware-affiliated founders also were considered for the Blue Hen Prize, which was sponsored by UD Horn Entrepreneurship. Winners, all with founders/co-founders who are UD alumni, were:

  1. SomnOSA of Baltimore, MD: $7,000
  2. Toivoa of Wilmington, DE: $5,000
  3. Stakana Analytics of Seattle, WA: $2,500

Startup302 competitors must be technology-based or -enabled with at least one founder from an underrepresented group: women; people of color, including African Americans, Latin Americans and Native Americans; and members of the LGBTQ+ community – all of whose ventures are underinvested in relative to their demographic’s percentage of overall U.S. population. Startup302 aims to foster diverse perspectives, promote inclusive and equitable consideration and attract diverse communities of founders to the region, so participants aren’t required to be located in Delaware.

“Delaware is a very inclusive and diverse community with many resources and opportunities to help empower and lift up startup companies,” said DPP Innovation Manager Erica Crell. “To have these amazing startups from all backgrounds converge, engage and network with each other here in the City of Wilmington in this beautiful theater, is what Startup302’s mission has been since the start. Startup302, DPP and Delaware recognize the economic potential in and outside the state by supporting and prioritizing our underserved startup communities. I am proud to say that Startup302 is allowing these communities to have a voice and is leading the charge in Delaware on driving the investments to those that are underfunded.”

Click here to view Business Facilities’ Delaware Location Profile: Economic development news, contacts, targeted growth sectors, and rankings for relocating and expanding companies.


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