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Genesis Block Names 10 Companies Selected For Minority Business Accelerator

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jan 25, 2021
Tiffany Cripps aims to grow the reach of her self-care products and services business with a stand-alone location and additional retail locations. 

Health Begins From Within is a one-woman company run by Cripps, who is working out of her Wilmington home. She said she hopes to take advantage of local resources being offered for Health Begins From Within as one of 10 businesses recently selected to participate in Genesis Block's minority business accelerator.

The first round of Genesis Block's Back on the Block Minority Accelerator will begin Thursday, said Girard Newkirk, co-founder of the business, which he started with his wife, Tracey Newkirk.

The accelerator includes a 16-week intensive entrepreneur skills program, mentorship, shared workspace, professional networking and access to capital upon completion, according to a news release.

As she participates in the accelerator in the coming weeks, Cripps said she hopes to "gain the knowledge to scale. My products are currently in Blue Moon Gift Shops and so I hope to expand where the products are placed.

"I definitely want to be in a few more locations with the ultimate goal of having a ... location for people to come and have that place for education, purchase the retail products ... and I know that Genesis Block is going to be able to provide me with that foundation that I need to be able to move forward."

To bring the program to fruition, Girard Newkirk said Genesis Block has worked with several anchor institutions, development and strategic partners in the Wilmington area, including CastleBranch, Live Oak Bank, Monteith Construction, Truist Bank, the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Cape Fear Collective and NC IDEA.

Genesis Block has partnered with NC IDEA on the minority business accelerator program, which has received a $50,000 award as part of a round of NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grants, as well as a $25,000 economic incentive from New Hanover County.

Jermaine Kemp, a Marine Corps veteran and owner of Poseidon Elite Athletics, a youth sports training business, also has a plan to get his own location for the business. He and his business partner, ​Marlon Ramos, train children as young as 6 years old in several types of youth sports. There are nearly 40 kids signed up for its monthly training, Kemp said. 

Currently, Poseidon Elite Athletics is in the Hampstead area working out of a couple of gyms, including CrossFit Reignited ILM. But the programs and membership are starting to outgrow the club's ability to use and maximize times in the gyms, he said. 

"I'm going to seek anybody I can see in order to make myself 100% legitimized, to get my own facility strictly for the kids and my own piece of land strictly for the kids and their athletic development," Kemp said. "That's where we are at now. We are in that phase where the honeymoon is over with the gyms and in order for us to continue to grow we have to find our own place and do our own thing."

The call from Genesis Block to participate in the program was a blessing, he said. Kemp is hoping to work through the accelerator to fine-tune his business plan, grow the current business and grow as a businessman.

"Genesis Block is proud to serve as the anchor institution for the economic and business development of minority and women-owned businesses in southeastern North Carolina," Girard Newkirk said in a release. "We are proving that Wilmington is a diverse, open and inclusive community working collaboratively to build the entrepreneur class."

Other businesses that were selected for the accelerator are: Genesis Block, 20 Wrights Aly in Wilmington, is a business development services company, which includes the minority business accelerator, a co-working space and an entrepreneur academy, and is also developing a mobile application and website to promote minority businesses.
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