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Genesis Block Targets Jobs, Investment For Minority Businesses

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Nov 3, 2020
Genesis Block, co-founded by Tracey and Girard Newkirk, will open its doors to companies starting Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of Genesis Block)
Genesis Block will officially open its doors later this month with a jobs and investment strategy to help grow the minority-owned and women-owned business community in the Cape Fear region.

The community collaborative is focusing on a three-year goal to help spur companies that will create 400 jobs and add $13 million in investment in the area, said Tracey and Girard Newkirk, co-founders of Genesis Block located at 20 Wrights Alley in Wilmington.

The Newkirks, through the firm, are taking an economic development role for the advancement and enrichment of the local minority business community, launching Genesis Block as a business development company.

"We have three very clear strategies as far as our three-year goals, and that is to graduate 120 minority and women-owned businesses, through them create 400 jobs, and drive $13 million in revenue for the community through those businesses. So we want everyone to understand this so that they can understand that they're not just supporting Genesis Block exclusively; that it's about supporting minority and women-owned business development in the community," Girard Newkirk said.

The Newkirks aim to take a three-vertical approach to the impact of Genesis Block through its new co-working space, entrepreneur academy and minority accelerator and ANZA Technology platform, which is a still-developing mobile application and website that will be built to promote minority businesses in the Wilmington area.

The business is hosting an invitation-only ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 19, with an open house from 1 to 4 p.m., which will include tours of the new co-working space. The firm will be maintaining social distancing and other practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tracey Newkirk said. 

The firm hosted a soft launch (right) in October during the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s annual Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week

"We ultimately will have some of our companies with products here to demonstrate some of the things they have going on. And we plan to have information about our ANZA application, which is our Black business listing," she said. 

Girard Newkirk said there will be an unveiling of the new ANZA platform. tekMountain incubator, part of Wilmington-based Castle Branch, is working on this application as well, joining in on a partnership with Genesis Block for this technology and local initiative. 

"We're going to be showing ANZA for the first time," Girard Newkirk said. "ANZA is our technology platform that consists of a website and a mobile application. It's going to be a searchable database for Black-owned businesses in the Cape Fear region and it's also going to serve to pair Black-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses with contractors and anchor institutions in the area to help address the disparities with minority participation in government contracting."

Genesis Block is in phase three -- out of four phases -- of its ANZA platform, he said, adding that there will be enough of that platform built digitally that attendees on Nov. 19 will be able to browse through the application and click on some of its functions. 

The organization hopes to launch the application in early 2021, and is in talks with the city of Wilmington to do a pilot program to help reach the city's minority participation goal in its contracting jobs, Girard Newkirk said.

On top of the technology platform to generate more business for the minority companies in the community, Genesis Block also offers various levels of memberships, including community and corporate memberships, to utilize its co-working and office space. 

In addition, the Genesis Block Entrepreneur Academy will help provide resources and education for businesses and ideas to grow, Tracey Newkirk said.

The Newkirks are also calling for participation from those interested in providing sponsorships for the organization's work.

"We're still looking for community support," Girard Newkirk said. "We have very ambitious goals over the next three years, so that will require more community investment and support."
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