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Mar 15, 2024

Food is the Foundation for Prosperous Communities

Sponsored Content provided by Girard Newkirk - Co-founder & CEO , Genesis Block

Food is the foundation of healthy living and the key to building prosperous communities. Food and prosperity are intricately linked making it imperative to establish and cultivate community based food systems. 
This begins and ends with entrepreneurs and their commitment to sustaining the food system. Farmers and food producers are at the front of the food supply chain providing the raw fruits, vegetables and meats. The food is then processed and stored before distribution to grocery stores, local food distributors and restaurants. Critical to each part of this process is food entrepreneurship and it’s important we identify the components to enable a sustainable community based food system.
Block Eatz was launched with a mission to to support local food entrepreneurs, from ideation to commercialization with quality training, food production space and brand development. The broader vision of Block Eatz is to establish a network of food production facilities, food hall incubators, kitchen commissaries, local food producers and food startups committed to delivering quality food experiences. Since its grand opening on September 19, 2023, Block Eatz has serviced over 6200 customers on the north campus of Cape Fear Community College and the surrounding Castle Hayne community.
Genesis Block has three desired outcomes that guide our strategy in developing infrastructure to advance food entrepreneurship while helping the region build a resilient community based food system.
Low Cost Business Models
One of the biggest hurdles facing early stage food entrepreneurs is finding permitted commercial kitchen space to legally produce their product. The only path to growth for food entrepreneurs that produce goods is to have access to a licensed production space in order to scale their venture. The rising costs of food, labor and operating expenses contribute to the financial challenges entrepreneurs face in the food industry. Block Eatz establishes shared used models that significantly lower the operating costs for food entrepreneurs in the region. This drastically reduces the financial barriers that are contributing factors to the failure of food businesses.
Speed to Market
The typical costs to open a small restaurant is between $750,000 — $1.2 million dollars and could take anywhere from 12–18 months to open. The length of time it takes to generate cash flow negatively impacts restaurateurs and makes profitably a longer process to achieve. Block Eatz food network model significantly reduces that time and positions food entrepreneurs to immediately have their products in the market contributing to higher success rates. Within days food vendors can be integrated into the Block Eatz network with access to production space and new customers. 
Flexible Commercialization Opportunities
Whether it’s developing a new food concept at Block Eatz McKeithan, providing meals through catering, accessing food production space at Block Kitchenz or establishing your food truck in the area, Block Eatz offers flexible food service models to support the commercialization of food entrepreneurs. Block Eatz combines flexible product to market models along with quality training, food production space and brand development to increase the success rate of food ventures.
Central to the core values of Block Eatz is to establish business models that are designed to correlate with the success of the food entrepreneurs. The Block Eatz ecosystem works to establish business models that not only ensure the sustainability of the brand but also provide a profitable model for the entrepreneurs.
Here are the services that operate under the Block Eatz brand.
Block Eatz at McKeithan Center
Block Eatz is a launchpad for culinary entrepreneurs, offering a comprehensive support system encompassing various aspects of restaurant operations. Genesis Block in a groundbreaking partnership with Cape Fear Community College, established Block Eatz to foster innovation and support for aspiring local entrepreneurs in the culinary industry.
The food hall incubator provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to test the viability of their restaurant concepts. This incubator is the first of its kind in our region and is an initiative to encourage small business owners and boost economic growth within our community. Since its grand opening on September 19, 2023, Block Eatz has serviced over 6200 customers on the north campus of Cape Fear Community College and the surrounding Castle Hayne community. Students, faculty, staff and community members enjoy a wide variety of meals from local chefs and aspiring food entrepreneurs.
In addition, the food hall incubator serves as a pathway to CFCC’s Culinary Program. By providing a shared space where aspiring chefs, entrepreneurs, and food enthusiasts can come together. Chef’s Vision, is a monthly meetup hosted at Block Eatz that provides a casual 
 for food industry students, professionals and chefs to connect and collaborate.
Block Kitchenz
Block Kitchenz is the latest offering from the Block Eatz brand.  The mission of Block Kitchenz is to support local food entrepreneurs and businesses with licensed food production facilities, leasing space, food service options and quality training.  Block Kitchenz is part of the broader vision to build a network of food production and distribution hubs that support local food businesses and create sustainable local food systems.
Block Kitchez will serve as a kitchen commissary/ghost kitchen/take out food service. The concept is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2024 in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. 
Block Truckz
Block Truckz is a network of food trucks that supports the Cape Fear region. Food trucks have become very popular and provide a great balance of affordability, local cuisine and intimate interactions. Block Eatz partners with local food trucks to integrate their concept into its network of construction sites, off site facilities, events and outdoor activities.
Chow Now
Block Eatz partnered with Chow Now to establish a mobile application for the restaurants at Block Eatz. Customers can now order Block Eatz online and have it delivered to their residence or at the office. This provides entrepreneurs in the Block Eatz food network, mobile and delivery capabilities for their food ventures providing even more cost efficient revenue streams.
What is the next step in the development of the Block Eatz Food Entrepreneurship Ecosystem?
Food Innovation Campus
North Carolina has the 9th largest agricultural output state in the U.S. over $14.9 billion in receipts and the Cape Fear region is home to the states largest port. Genesis Block is working to build a collaborative to develop a Food Innovation Campus in Wilmington to serve as a regional hub for food innovation. The Cape Fear region needs a food innovation campus to support space for food businesses to grow, production facilities for testing and development and consumer packaging goods processing environments for businesses that support port operations. 
North Carolina’s Southeast region, long known for its productive land and innovative agricultural companies, has several of the top farm income producing counties in the nation. With more than 26,000 people employed in food processing and 12,000 employed in agriculture and farming, the area’s well-trained workforce continues to meet the needs of existing businesses within this sector.
The Port of Wilmington is ranked as the most productive port in North America according to the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI). The Food Innovation Campus could serve as the physical infrastructure to support the integration of these existing economic assets to build a sustainable food system for business growth and community prosperity. 

For information on how you can become part of the Block Eatz Foodiez network as an entrepreneur or if you need any of our food service offerings contact us at [email protected].

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