New Hanover County November 2022


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

Our visit to New Hanover County began in the Wilma Daniels Gallery on the campus of Cape Fear Community College. New Hanover County has a population of nearly 230,000 as of the last census. The county’s population has grown significantly in the last two decades, creating both opportunities and challenges for the community according to leaders and residents we met with over the course of the day.

Our time at the Wilma Daniels Gallery was focused on creating a culture of entrepreneurship in the county. Several local leaders joined us including Tracey Newkirk, the Co-Founder and President of Genesis Block; Girard Newkirk, Co-Founder and CEO of Genesis Block; Aariene Hansley, the Education Coordinator for Genesis Block; Heather McWhorter, Director of UNC-Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Jerry Coleman, the Director of the Cape Fear Community College Small Business Center.

Genesis Block is a social entrepreneurship organization focused on bolstering a diverse class of entrepreneurs in New Hanover County through providing coworking opportunities, events such as Conversations to Contracts that focus on connecting minority-owned businesses to major companies and educational efforts including partnerships with Cape Fear Community College.

“We want to create a Wilmington where my two sons would want to work, live and play together,” declared Tracey Newkirk. “Including a Wilmington where our leaders and success stories reflect the diversity of our community.”

Following our lunchtime conversation, we proceeded to Channel – a co-working space focused on providing a space to serve minority entrepreneurs in Wilmington – for a roundtable discussion with Cape Fear Collective. Cape Fear Collective is a social impact organization focused on sparking system change in southeastern North Carolina through collaborations focused on the intersection of leveraging local assets, data and social impact investing around issues such as housing and health care.

Cape Fear Collective was born out of Live Oak Bank in 2019 to bring together data, capital investment and supporting organizations that are addressing “poverty, racism, poor health and educational outcomes, and socio-economic disparities” according to Collective CEO Meaghan Dennison. Dennison walked us through their community-data platform to showcase their datasets around health across North Carolina.

In the evening, we had dinner with William Buster and Lakesha McDay of the New Hanover Community Endowment to discuss philanthropic efforts in their community. The Endowment was funded by the sale of the county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health. Buster and McDay walked us through their inaugural grants and the long-term vision for the Endowment to spark change around education, equity, public safety and community development.

Meet Dr. Algie Gatewood

Dr. Algie Gatewood is only the fourth President to lead Alamance Community College (ACC) since it opened in 1958. During Dr. Gatewood’s tenure at ACC, the college won its largest ever bond referendum – nearly $40 million – in 2018 to fund a number of major capital projects and expansions. The college also secured $16 million in county funding in 2014 to build the Advanced Applied Technology Center. Other notable accomplishments include creating a Biotechnology Center of Excellence, introducing an Early College, facilitating an apprenticeship program, and introducing nearly two dozen new academic programs and articulation agreements with state universities.

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U39702, 2/23