Genesis Block graduates first group of minority and women-owned businesses

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Genesis Block, Wilmington’s community collaborative to advance minority and women-owned businesses, graduated its first group of entrepreneurs Thursday evening.

These were the first nine companies to go through the Back on the Block Minority Accelerator which began in January.

The 16 week training course is designed to provide the knowledge, skills, and strategy needed to successfully grow a business.

“Now it’s getting back to the grind, it’s applying all the tools, all of the education and entrepreneurship training that they learned in the accelerator,” said Genesis Block co-founder Girard Newkirk. “Now it’s time to go apply it in the marketplace.”

One of the graduating businesses is Avonya’s Blends, owned by 23-year-old Emily Dixon.

“I was just starting, I was winging it, and they helped me to give my business structure and to develop my business and to be able to scale it to the next level,” Dixon said.

Dixon says she is thankful to Genesis Block founders Girard and Tracey Newkirk for the opportunity.

“To have a company that is willing to work with minority and women-owned businesses because they actually care and they want us to excel and succeed as well as help the economy, I think it’s an amazing thing that they’re doing,” Dixon said.

Part of the graduation ceremony was a shark tank-style competition where each business owner gave their pitch to a panel of judges. The winner will receive even more resources to grow their business.

“We have five people in our community that volunteered to provide them HR, finance, marketing and sales, technology, and operational support,” Tracey Newkirk said. “So they’ll get a suite of people that’s going to give them an evaluation of their company and give them a go-for-it plan in each of those areas.”

The winner of the competition was Brenda Dixon, owner of Get That Deed LLC. The next group of businesses to go through the accelerator was announced Thursday night and will begin classes next month.

Genesis Block’s goal is to produce 40 companies through the accelerator each year, advancing 120 minority and women-owned businesses over three years. They hope to create 400 jobs and $15 million in economic activity.

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