BY CECE NUNN, POSTED OCT 29, 2021
A growing Wilmington company attracted a powerful partner as it aims to provide business development services to underrepresented entrepreneurs.
Bank of America is investing $15,000 to support Genesis Block’s efforts for Castle Street workforce development. Genesis Block founders Tracey and Girard Newkirk plan to create an innovation corridor on Castle Street through incubator space and other facilities.
“Bank of America is focused on helping create pathways to employment by supporting a range of workforce development opportunities like those offered by Genesis Block,” said Bank of America Coastal NC President Derek Cohen, in an email. “These efforts are part of our $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity for people and communities of color.”
Girard Newkirk, CEO of Genesis Block, said he hopes the investment is the start of a long-term relationship.
“We are so excited about this opportunity to partner with Bank of America to lay the foundation for the innovation corridor on Castle Street,” he said.
Asked if the bank might invest more in Genesis Block in the future, Cohen didn’t say yes or no, but stated, “Bank of America has a longstanding commitment to supporting workforce development in the Cape Fear region, and this partnership represents a unique opportunity to address systemic, long-term gaps for underserved communities and provide the change necessary to achieve sustainable progress.”
Genesis Block is currently headquartered at 20 Wrights Aly in downtown Wilmington and is expected to need more space in the future.
“We have 55 companies that we provide business development services for and all of them are in the stage where they’re going to need employees,” Girard Newkirk said.
Genesis Block is part of a proposal that could allow the company to convert two former Wave Transit facilities at 1110 Castle St. to include a food incubator, headquarters space, and more.
The Wilmington City Council is expected to consider whether they want to continue with the larger 1110 Castle Street development proposal by Hipp Architecture & Development PC at a council meeting in January.
Regardless of the city council outcome, the Newkirks expect to proceed with efforts focused on Castle Street.
Girard Newkirk said, “We’re committed to the innovation corridor concept at Castle Street and this [the Bank of America investment] further gives even more hope that this is something that we can make a reality.”