GWDI names advisory council, chooses temporary location

The Greater West Dayton Incubator, an initiative envisioned by and developed in partnership between the University of Dayton and community leaders of Greater West Dayton with the support of the Entrepreneurs’ Center, has named an advisory council; identified a temporary location; begun building stronger connections between entrepreneurs and opportunities on campus and at the Dayton Arcade; and developed plans for a micro-loan program expected to begin taking applications in the coming months.

“Our goal is to be a catalyst for an equitable startup ecosystem by supporting Greater West Dayton entrepreneurs with resources including space, funding, consulting, contracts, entrepreneurial training and student support,” said Karlos L. Marshall, manager of the incubator.

The advisory council — which includes company founders, owners and CEOs nominated by fellow Greater West Dayton entrepreneurs and community members as well as representatives from local development organizations, the University and other groups— will help foster community impact.

“As an entrepreneur and a business advisor, I’m excited to add another layer of accessibility and support to entrepreneurs in West Dayton,” said LeKeisha Grant, Small Business Development Center advisor at the Entrepreneurs’ Center. “As a Greater West Dayton resident, I can tell you that the talent is present and ready, and this commitment will bring support and resources even closer.”

The advisory council also is key in aligning community resources and ensuring equitable opportunities for community members. Opportunities include the chance to win funding through the University of Dayton Flyer Pitch competition sponsored by PNC Bank in both the Greater West Dayton social venture track as well as the startup track. Greater West Dayton startups and organizations also can receive business solutions in partnership with University students through capstone courses that have worked with entrepreneurs like TJ Cartwright and her What’s the Biz with TJ, which highlights stories of local Black-owned businesses.

They also can take advantage of the incubator’s connection to The Hub Powered by PNC Bank at the Dayton Arcade. The incubator has already assisted Black-owned companies in securing project bids at The Hub, in addition to planned coworking scholarship opportunities and a café that will source food and drinks from underrepresented firms in Greater West Dayton.

The incubator also has selected a temporary location, at 1105 W. Third St. in the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood, while it seeks a permanent home.

“I think it will be a game-changer,” said Tae Winston, Greater West Dayton entrepreneur representative for the incubator and owner of neighboring The Entrepreneurs Marketplace that offers space for pop-up shops, as well as two other businesses serving local entrepreneurs. “It’s giving hope to more entrepreneurs. It’s what the city needs to provide resources and more support to small businesses.”

Plans are progressing on the incubator’s micro-loan program, which will provide Greater West Dayton entrepreneurs with up to $20,000 in capital with low-barrier requirements. Local partners including banks also will provide comprehensive financial wellness education.

The incubator is run through the University’s Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and with a donor gift and funding from the state’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider Program through the Entrepreneurs’ Center. The incubator aligns with the University’s strategic vision to create deeper community partnerships with greater local impact, and provides students with transformational learning opportunities related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

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