First State Manufacturing leads in small business enterprise

Owners selected as Persons of the Year by Small Business Association

Published on May 23, 2012 by Molly MacMillan
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Photo by: Molly MacMillan First State Manufacturing owners(l-r) Ashley Wolfe, Eli and Sher Valenzuela join Milford Mayor Ronnie Rogers, Dr. Michael Casson, Delaware State University President Dr. Harry Williams, SBA Director Tony Leta, Dr. Shelton Rhodes, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Dr. Nanda Viswanathan and Dr. Alton Thompson as they gather to formalize their business agreement.


MILFORD — The owners of First State Manufacturing of Milford were recently honored as Small Business Persons of the Year as the company announced a partnership with Delaware State University and the city of Milford to develop a small business accelerator.

Representatives of Delaware State University joined company representatives in announcing a partnership to open of a job-training campus at the plant.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am to see this future home of Delaware State University’s job and business accelerator campus,” said Delaware State University President Dr. Harry Williams. “When you have a vision, it’s amazing to see the things that can happen.”

Providing students with real job skills is just one part of the vision, Williams said, expressing hopes for continued growth and collaboration in the public and private sector in the future.

“We are a state university, and when you are a state university you have a responsibility to the state,” he said. “We wanted to be a part of invigorating the state and Mid-Atlantic recovery.”

At the May 4 press conference, First State Manufacturing co-owner Sher Valenzuela said, “We have grown our small business from small beginnings. My husband started this from a mail-order course.”

She said the company has used the gold mine of resources available through the Small Business Administration to grow the business into what it is today.

First State Manufacturing hires locally and manufactures and stitches items such as airplane seats and bulletproof vests for the armed forces. The company has been in business in Milford since the start of the century, she said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said four major aspects of the economy would help spur recovery in Delaware: manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and healthcare. He thanked small businesses for increasing job opportunities in those sectors.

“It is important to retain manufacturing jobs, and they are again coming back into our economy,” Carper said. “This is a different kind of economic recovery, and it is being led by manufacturing and agriculture. We are again making things and growing things in the United States that the rest of the world wants to buy.”


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