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Opportunity Came Knocking At A New Door In Wilmington

By Staff Reports, posted May 9, 2014
(Jim Roberts)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington and the Wilmington community opened the doors of the new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) facility on Sept. 5 of last year with an overwhelming crowd, and activity at the center has not slowed down since.

We have had events for standing-room-only crowds on 3D printing, crowdfunding with Indiegogo and many more topics the community has found helpful. The CIE has kept the traditional events such as the RocketPitch event but with some new twists such as the addition of the PivotPitch, the chat with out-of-town venture capitalists before the RocketPitch entrepreneur presentations.

One year after being introduced as the new executive director of the new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I am grateful for the support of the UNCW administration and trust of the people who have participated in our events.

We have added some new partners to support our efforts, including Brax LTD, City of Wilmington, Cape Fear Future/BB&T, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Cameron Management and now the Wireless Research Center of North Carolina.

The highly publicized Garner Report, sponsored by New Hanover County, gave the CIE mostly good marks for being the go-to organization for knowledge-based, high-growth businesses. We still have plenty of work to do towards preparing our entrepreneurs to raise capital if that is one of the needs of their business.

The CIE recently hosted our largest event yet, our “Aspirin Event,” which had a full house of attendees who listened to the needs of five of the largest employers in the region. We hope the event in 2014-15 will be a little broader by inviting representatives of five of the largest industries such as tourism, clinical research and film in the region to share their needs.

We hope the entrepreneurs will realize local opportunities aligned with the needs of large local employers and hire local people to create those innovative solutions.
At this year’s Coastal Entrepreneur Awards event, we will introduce the concept of the Opportunity Knocks Awards.

These awards will be given to encourage our members to follow through when opportunities are presented and to encourage opening doors for others by helping them with their needs or making valuable introductions.

Along with the support of the Business Journal, the CIE staff (of two) would like to say congratulations to all the winners and applicants who took the risk to become entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

We are all behind you and eager to support you when you need help growing your businesses that will in turn help grow our community’s economy by creating new jobs for our UNCW graduates and other residents.

As we approach our one-year anniversary, I would like to say thank you to Jonathan Rowe and Fran Scarlett for their leadership of the previous Entrepreneurship Center based at the Cameron School of Business.

I would also like to thank our most vocal supporter, [business school] dean Larry Clark, and I hope you will join me in wishing him well in his new role as the chancellor of Louisiana State University in Shreveport.

Next year, we will continue our efforts to grow as an entrepreneur support organization, be the one-stop shop facility for the needs of emerging companies and prepare our entrepreneurs to present to investors. We will continue our focus on helping our entrepreneurs find new clients, pursue more grants and raise more capital. We will also add more formal education for our participating members and continue to add new partners to strengthen our offerings.

We hope you will feel welcome to participate in future events at the CIE, and please let us know what ideas you have for events or what needs you have as a member of the regional business community.

-Jim R. Roberts
executive director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Judging the Applications
The Coastal Entrepreneur Awards (CEA) is run by the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

CEA’s goal is to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming companies, helping them make connections in the community as well as showcase our region’s entrepreneurial activity.

The competition involves two rounds of judging in which the applicants are judged on two criteria:

Is the organization entrepreneurial?

Of those that are entrepreneurial, which organization is most likely to be financially successful.

For nonprofits, the standard is which is likely to have the most impact.

First, all the applications are evaluated by representatives of area business groups and the competition’s sponsors. This group picks the category winners.

A second round of judges selects the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year.
The first-round judges were:
Scott Czechlewski (Wilmington Chamber of Commerce)
Tom Dodson (First Federal)
Dana Fisher (North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce)
John Gardner (BB&T)
Bruce Holsten (Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce)
Mitzi Kincaid (Kincaid and Associates)
Tammy Proctor (Topsail Area Chamber
of Commerce)
Sara Raleigh (SCORE)
Jackie Reynolds (SunTrust)
Fran Scarlett (SBTDC)
Kelsey Seitter (Burgaw Area Chamber of Commerce)
Adam Shay (Adam Shay CPA)
Reggie Shropshire (ActionCoach)
Don Spry (U.S. Small Business Administration)
Doug Tarble (Cape Fear Community College)
Jason Wheeler (Pathfinder Wealth Consulting)
The second-round judges were:
Kelly Buffalino (Pink Trash, 2013 CEA overall winner)
Adam Burke (Kalabur)
Jim Hundley Jr. (GO2 LLC, 2013 CEA health care category winner)
Tom Janicki (UNCW Cameron School of Business)
Mike Rhoades (Wilmington Investment Network)
Jim Roberts (UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
Dallas Romanowski (Cornerstone Advisory Partners)
The 2014 Coastal Entrepreneur Awards ceremony takes place May 22. The breakfast event starts at 7:30 a.m. at UNCW’s Burney Center where the 10 winning companies will be honored and an overall winner announced. Go to for more event or ticket info.
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