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NHC Commissioners To Consider $25K For Genesis Block's Accelerator

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jan 18, 2021
County commissioners are considering a proposal to give funds to Genesis Block for its business accelerator program. (File photo)
Genesis Block, which recently opened its doors in downtown Wilmington, could receive $25,000 in county funds geared toward economic development.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider on Tuesday approving the funds to assist businesses participating in the company's business accelerator program, according to the board's agenda.

“The program supports the effort to increase the minority business presence and creates jobs in the community,” states the agenda.

Should the funding meet commissioners' approval, the county's funding, along with a $50,000 state grant, would to go Genesis Block's accelerator program, and "will be used to provide technical assistance, educational resources, training, networking opportunities and access to capital that companies can use to strengthen their venture," said Girard Newkirk, co-founder of the company.

Sixty-seven businesses have applied in an "overwhelming response" to the accelerator application process. Only 10 will be selected, he said, adding that the selection process will wrap this week.

Recently, Genesis Block received the $50,000 grant as one of eight businesses in the state to receive an NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grant, which was created through a partnership between NC IDEA and the N.C. Black Entrepreneurship Council.

Genesis Block has partnered with NC IDEA for the "Genesis Block Back on the Block Minority Accelerator to advance Black entrepreneurship in Southeastern NC," he said. 

This state grant, however, was independent and did not require local government matching, Girard Newkirk said.
 
A public hearing about the $25,000 in county funding is being held before commissioners' consideration for approval.

“The source of funding for this appropriation and expenditure will be from the General Fund,” states the agenda. “The purposes of economic development and economic incentive agreements are to increase the population, taxable property, agricultural industries, employment, industrial output, or business prospects for New Hanover County.”

The money has been recommended by county staff for appropriation in this fiscal year’s budget.

“This is a clear demonstration that New Hanover County understands that entrepreneurship provides ladders of social upward mobility for community prosperity. It says that we are redefining our community by working together collaboratively to create comprehensive solutions,” Girard Newkirk, co-founder of the business, said in an email about the potential incentive from the county.

“This shows that we are aligned in our commitment for economic development in our community as a whole and if there are gaps in services that need to be filled, the community is open to addressing them,” he added.

Newkirk co-founded Genesis Block Labs with his wife, Tracey. The business officially opened at 20 Wrights Aly in Wilmington in November. The company has set some big goals for economic development with an aim at growing the area's minority- and women-owned businesses.

The business includes a coworking space, entrepreneur academy and minority accelerator, and is developing a mobile application and website to promote minority businesses.

“Our business model includes offering a shared workspace environment, however, our mission aligns with a much broader solution for economic development in underserved communities,” Girard Newkirk said.

“Genesis Block is more of a business development services company. The coworking space is one of the resources that we provide for entrepreneurs, small business owners and early-stage entrepreneurs,” he added. “Our aim is to be the anchor institution for business and economic development for minority-  and women-owned businesses in southeastern North Carolina.”

New Hanover County Commissioners will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse at 24 N. Third St. in Wilmington.
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