Small veteran-owned businesses get a visit from Sen. Carper and SBA, discussed much needed help

SEAFORD, Del. – U.S. Senator Tom Carper and officials from the Delaware Small Business Administration took a trip to Stargate Diner in Seaford Friday afternoon for a sit down with small veteran-owned businesses, and it wasn’t just to thank them for their years of service.

“We never really look for any personal recognition, we just go to help the community and help ourselves and make sure we all do the best we can,” says Mike Soules, Co-owner of Lewes, Delaware Jiffy Lube, and Army veteran.

At the meeting, they addressed the struggles caused by the pandemic on small businesses and a plan of action for moving forward.

“Immediately it was like bam, almost 70% of your business was gone, so many things shut down, the panic with what’s going to happen in the near months,” says Mike.

Senator Carper and SBA officials both agree they must help small businesses get back on their feet.

“This is a good opportunity for me to hear what is working what have we done in the pandemic through our federal assistance program that is helping to make a difference,” says Senator Carper. John Fleming, DE District Director for SBA adds, “We wanna hear about things we’re hearing on the news, things like supply chain things like retaining employees or finding employees.”

Despite assistance from state officials in the past year, we’re told many of these businesses are still struggling. The owners of Jiffy Lube tell 47 ABC, the amount of help they’ve already received made a tremendous difference, but there’s still more work to be done.

“Just continued support for the businesses which bleeds back to the employees and bleeds back to the communities and customers,” says Mike’s wife, and Co-owner, Sara Soule. Mike adds, “Anything that can help there and help maybe in some of the other programs that are out there to help our employees themselves, that’s what we’re going to be looking for.”

Sara tells us, being a military wife was a challenge within itself, and then owning a business became another hurdle. However, the resources and efforts to help support other businesses like theirs, are empowering. “It’s always good to know what someone else is experiencing, good, bad, or indifferent, you can learn from it.”

Meanwhile, Jean Dowding, a Retired Army Sgt. Major who is also a realtor and educator tells us, for her, the day was more about honoring veterans’ transition into the community, and commemorating them for how much they all continue to contribute to Delmarva.

“Basically, it’s important, all of us veterans are realtors, educators, we’re teachers, we’re engineers, we’re cooks, we’re mothers and fathers really.” She adds, “The pandemic has taught us all we may not always be meeting in person but our hearts and our spirit to serve has got to be there.”

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