A public-private sector initiative will provide funding and office space in Bailey Power Plant for local minority- and women-owned businesses.

Wexford Science & Technology LLC, developer of much of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, said Monday it will provide $200,000 over two years toward the initiative, as well as between 1,400 and 1,600 square feet in the recently renovated facility off Patterson Avenue in downtown Winston-Salem.

The initiative will be operated by an independent local nonprofit or government agency. The aim is “to encourage, support and accelerate local small businesses and start-ups” founded by women and minorities.

An independent advisory council will review all applications based on the merits of each response and the council’s assessment of each group’s business acceleration opportunities.

Will Partin, senior director of development for Wexford, said the council expects to have the organizational manager in place by mid-September, and then determine how many businesses it initially will assist.

“Our community must be intentional about creating inclusive spaces and opportunities for the entire city,” Montgomery said. “When the city council incentivized the re-development of the Bailey Power Plant, it did so with the caveat that there was a need for space to be created to foster minority-owned business within this new creative ecosystem. This incubator space is but one step in that direction.”

The program will be housed in the Innovation Suites in Turbine Hall, which opened in February. The space now houses several startups, as well as the operations and Thursday gatherings of Venture Café Winston-Salem.

“Wexford has worked to develop strong, collaborative relationships with the city of Winston Salem, Forsyth County and the Innovation Quarter,” Partin said.

“We believe initiatives which support a more inclusive economy are crucial both in our community as well as across the country, and we are excited to do our part to encourage that here in Winston Salem.”

Interested parties can email [email protected] for more information.

Partin said one option is for participating groups to take space for six-to-nine months at the power plant, and then move to space with groups, such as Winston Starts, that help accelerate the growth of startup businesses.

Winston Starts is a key nonprofit element of the $10 million former GMAC Building revitalization, which also dedicates 90,000 square feet of office space to Flow Automotive Cos. Don Flow is the visionary for the entire renovation project.

Winston Starts’ tenants will be able to stay in the leased space for up to 30 months. The goal is to have up to 50 tenants at one time, based on one to three employees per company.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal by Richard Craver  |  July 31, 2018