By Richard Keary
Thomas Wolfe coined the phrase, “you can’t go home again” and after relocating to Wilmington a few months ago, I do not want to go home. I am home. I have made several moves to new states, cities, and companies but have never been so welcomed as by this vibrant coastal city. There was some anxiety about moving during a pandemic; how can I assimilate and contribute to a new community? Then I drove past the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). What a gift.
It was no longer a new city but a whole new world to explore. I read a post on LinkedIn about a Fintech hub in Wilmington and the anxiety was gone. There were things to do. I became a member of the CIE and got a quick glimpse into the amazing start-up companies and the people who are dedicated to advising them.
I visited the Center one morning and despite a Covid induced stillness the vision was clear. Entrepreneurs had a place albeit virtual for now to share, learn, grow, and dream together. It is their dreamer trait that is the most captivating and the Center is their guide from the dream to the reality. Sometimes the vison does not match the market, but the CIE is there to help.
Innovation is a word used often these days as technology is advancing so rapidly that the entrepreneurs have no shortage of ideas. The start-up community here in Wilmington is full of resources and services. Other coastal communities may have beaches, warm weather, entrepreneurial spirit but the individuals that are driving the growth here in Wilmington, they are why you need to be here.
Entrepreneurship is not the only thing coming out of Wilmington, there is also a great focus on economic development. The growing Blue Economy and the opportunities that the oceans provide are still being explored. UNCW’s CIE is promoting and educating on this great resource. Oceans, if properly cared for, can improve our lives. Food security, climate change, tourism all lead to jobs and opportunities for new technologies and services. It is exciting.
Wilmington exceeds all expectations. Yes, the beaches are amazing, the Riverwalk, the historic homes, the movie and television filming and the golf. There are plenty of activities on the periphery, but inside this town they are not looking back, they are forward thinkers. The heart of the city lies in the people and by no coincidence in the middle of town is UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
CIE members come from all parts of the country and landed here willing to share their talents and time. The transplants may be infiltrating Wilmington, but we quickly discover we are welcomed and not alone. Wilmington is a community that knows how to give back, embraces the human spirit, and strives to create a better future for all of us. How can you not call this place home!
Richard Keary is Principal/ Founder of Global ETF Advisors, a strategic advisory and content marketing firm focused on building financial products. Mr. Keary recently relocated from the New York City area and joined the CIE as a member and mentor.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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