The Bailey Power Plant at Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest Innovation Quarter continues to increase its footprint as an economic driver for new and small businesses.
Innovation Quarter has partnered with accelerator Venture Café Winston-Salem, Piedmont Business Capital and Wexford Science & Technology LLC, a Baltimore-based financial and real estate company, to create a minority- and women-owned business accelerator at Bailey Power Plant.
Wexford will fund the endeavor through a $200,000 grant and donated office space from 1,400 to 1,600 square feet. Venture Café will administer the program, which will help spark small business startups founded by women and minorities.
“Venture Café Global has excelled at advancing inclusive innovation across the country, and we are extremely fortunate to have Venture Café Winston-Salem carrying that flag in our community,” said Will Partin, senior director of development for Wexford Science & Technology. “This partnership will provide truly impactful services, mentorship, and opportunities to entrepreneurs and businesses run by women and people of color.”
An independent advisory council led by former Winston-Salem City Councilman and N.C. Rep. Derwin Montgomery picked Venture Café Winston-Salem to facilitate the accelerator.
“This initiative for minority and women-owned businesses is another step to ensure that the economy of the future in Winston-Salem is an inclusive one,” said Montgomery.
Karen Barnes, executive director of Venture Café Winston-Salem, paints the partnership vision for the new space as a center, not a program.
“We want minority- and- women-owned businesses throughout our community to consider this their center, and for them to co-create it with us,” Barnes said.
Barnes said there is not yet a timetable in place for when the center will open, likely in January or shortly thereafter.
For the time being, Venture Cafe and Piedmont Business Capital are still in celebration mode and will have to begin at the beginning, she said. That includes figuring out how they will furnish the space, she said.
Barnes said the center will be somewhat like a public library, but with a concierge service and support in place for people of color and women in business who want to come by and connect with resources, get certification training, explore financial opportunities, and more.
“We are supremely honored and humbled to be asked to do this work,” she said.