Friday, April 20, 2012

Rocket Pitch

Chairs squeaked and heads bobbed and weaved, each straining to identify the curious source of disruption among the quieted crowd.

The culprit? A wicked-smart robotic camera, whose technical mastermind will be used for pipe inspection services.

I almost choked on my ornamental polenta bite as I watched the robotic whippersnapper navigate down the meeting hall. Only slightly smaller than a 1989 boom-box, the little guy emitted a confident whirr and engrossed the entire audience…so much so you would have thought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just walked in.

Then again, displays like this never cease to amaze me. It was after all, a Rocket Pitch Event.

Jonathan Rowe, director of the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center and creator of the semi-annual Rocket Pitch Event, alongside Chancellor Gary Miller, welcomed attendees to UNCW’s Burney Hall on April 19th.

The room was filled with representatives from academia, entrepreneurship, start-up companies, media, businesses, students, angel investors, nonprofits, and many more. Attendees noshed on elegant cuisine and sipped their cocktails as they listened to five companies “pitch” their respective product, business plan, and growth model.

PipeView Technologies kicked off the series. The founders behind the cost saving, pipe failure-fighting venture and the aforementioned robot technology are locally based and well-known across the community: Meredith Sullivan and Kristen Beckmeyer, co-owners of Coastal Cupcakes.And that was just the beginning.

The companies that followed were equally impressive.

Dan Tomkins presented his company, The Teacher Registry, which is an incredible online resource for teachers. Many educators supplement their own hard earnings for supplies that school systems cannot provide due to budget constraints. The Teacher Registry, akin to a wedding registry, allows teachers to create a profile where they can post their registry for school supplies. These supplies can then be purchased by parents, friends, and visitors who can search for the teacher by name through this portal.

Myo Med, LLC is a Wilmington based company that specializes in Myotonology®. The company’s president, Elizabeth Logan, explained how the patented microcurrent, noninvasive facial treatment focuses on toning facial muscles and increasing skin circulation. This proven product has enjoyed great success and Logan predicts Myo Med will continue to considerably expand its market share.

Terry Linehan of UNCW’s film department presented his company A Bunch of Us Productions, LLC. His pitch outlined his plan for producing an independent film shot in North Carolina. Using financial comparisons to Hollywood production costs, Linehan’s funding needs are modest. The preview of snapshots sent chills throughout the crowd…it is no surprise he has already secured significant capital for this project.

Cloudwyze, founded by Shaun Olsen, uses cloud-based technologies to provide users with more efficient, flexible (no contracts!) and affordable internet, phone, hosting, and IT services. I’ll admit, I don’t really understand the inner workings of the digital network, but I do understand the advanced, and largely untapped market in which they have infiltrated and the exponential growth they will soon encounter.

Time and again I am humbled by the creativity, drive, and determination exhibited by our area entrepreneurs. The Rocket Pitch Events are no exception. What’s more, three of the presenters Wednesday night are UNCW alumni…we are literally growing entrepreneurship and business in our back yard. UNCW and the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center deserve accolades for the strong academia, programmatic support, and effectiveness in recruiting mentors and existing business representatives to the process.

To visit individual company websites and for more information on the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center’s Rocket Pitch Event please

Monday, March 12, 2012

Second Southeastern Sustainability Symposium & Expo: “Explore the Business of Sustainability”

This one day event will bring together businesses, industries, government agencies and individuals to provide the opportunity to network, promote resources and learn about sustainable business practices and certifications.

The Keynote Speaker is Eric Henry, President of TS Designs. TS Designs is an innovative, full-service apparel domestic manufacturing and screen printing company. The mission of TS Designs is to build a sustainable company that simultaneously looks after the people, the planet, and profits. Mr. Henry recently received the NC Sustainability Champion Award from Sustainable North Carolina. This award recognizes people whose efforts are advancing sustainable “triple bottom line” approaches through creative leadership and dedication. TS Designs is run on a triple bottom line business model, one that strives for social justice, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity.

The event will be held on March 16, 2012, 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM at:
Brunswick Community College Leland Center for Economic and Workforce Development
2050 Enterprise Dr. NE, Leland, NC 28451
(910) 755-8084

For more details and to register, please visit:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Public Weighs in on Riverfront Park

Interested parties gathered February 23rd at City Hall for a public input workshop on the revitalization of Wilmington’s Downtown Riverfront Park. ColeJenest & Stone the land planning/urban design firm selected to develop a schematic plan for the waterfront space, welcomed attendees with great enthusiasm.

Representatives from ColeJenest & Stone and Halvorson Design Partnership (Boston based firm providing their design expertise of waterfront parks), presented a wealth of information, but the session was mostly dedicated to generating feedback and an overall community vision for how the project should materialize moving forward.

The presentation was organized and resourceful, as it gave an overview of the current status of the park, park program opportunities, and potential park designs and features. Each segment included a variety of images and illustrations from similar parks in other cities which were eagerly discussed and critiqued by participants. In one exercise, images were arranged on the walls, and attendees were even given green stickers to mark those items they would like to see incorporated in the design of Wilmington’s park. Features included lawns, gateways, shade structures, water features, signature design elements, public art, and pavilions.

The meeting then scaled down the 3000 foot view of “what could be” and a more personal conversation surfaced. What defines our park’s character? What does it currently represent? History and heritage? A celebration of the waterfront? And, more importantly, what do we want to it to be moving forward?

Public input sessions like these are crucial to public works projects. It is vital to engage people, to give them ownership and a chance to make the park authentic to the community… to make the space reflective of both Wilmington’s heritage and her future.

ColeJenest will use this feedback, coupled with input from previous stakeholder meetings, to create a master plan for all three phases of the park. Because phases two and three are dependent upon future negotiations by the City, their energies will mostly focus on the first phase. They predict that by April, the conceptual plan will be ready to present to City Council, which, upon approval, will initiate construction.

The meeting was both powerful and productive. In a way, the atmosphere and sentiment in that room was analogous to how I imagine our park to be. I was thrilled to see the number of young parents present, their young ones in tow. It was easy to envision them enjoying a Saturday afternoon…children playing in a creative fountain, ducking shoots of water soaring toward the sky, shrieking with delight. Single and married couples of all ages were also at the meeting…again, my mind wandered as I imagined Frisbees soaring next to the river, couples nuzzled on benches gazing out at the water, and passersby watching as they meander along the cobbled bricks of Water Street…makes me want to grab a double fudge ice cream cone and join them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Riverfront Park Stakeholder Meeting and Public Input Session

The city is looking for your input regarding the redevelopment of Riverfront Park. Two meetings will be held on February 23. You are encouraged to attend one or both if you would like to have a voice in the future of Riverfront Park. The stakeholder meeting will be from 10 am to noon and the public input workshop will be from 5 – 7 pm. Both meetings will be held in the City Council Chambers in City Hall.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Hanover County Schools Announces 2012 Science Fair Winners

The New Hanover County Science Fair was held on Thursday, January 26, 2012 on the campus of Murray Middle School. Nearly two hundred students in grades 3-12 participated. Among the event judges were representatives from Old River Farms, Cape Fear Museum, Airlie Gardens, the Cape Fear River Watch, the New Hanover County Soil and Water Conservation District, University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW), and the City of Wilmington Storm Water Services.

Several projects in each category will represent New Hanover County Schools at the Southeast Regional Science Fair to be held on February 11, 2012 on the campus of UNCW.

(*indicates selected for regional competition)

Elementary School Winners
Nina Hahn, Murrayville*
Elizabeth Kinsey, Anderson*
Layth Mansour, Sunset Park*
Caleb Marshall, Castle Hayne*
Caitlin Parrish, Blair*
Gavin Sokolinsky, Pine Valley*
Aeris Tinkler and Khalia Murray, Freeman School of Engineering*
Elyssa Hall, Codington*
Kendall Shaw, Wrightsboro*
Holland Baynard, Bradley Creek
Summer Marshburn-Teneyck, Gregory School of Math and Science
Maeson Morgan, Bellamy
Colby Styers, Codington
Daton West, Pine Valley
Nicholas Hildreth, College Park
Eric Powers, Pine Valley
Andrew Wise and William Caglarcan, Eaton
John Gizdic and Shaun Gizdic, Parsley
Scott Hightower, Pine Valley
Sandro Pantano, Ogden

Middle School Winners
Biological Science
1st- Dane Scull, Roland-Grise *
2nd- Savannah Clary, Noble*
3rd- Macy Austin, Trask

Physical Science
1st- Noelle Hoehn, Trask*
2nd- Mackenzie Williams and Emma Nelson, Murray*
3rd- Finn Sweetz, Murray

Earth Science
1st- Nathan Kinsey, Murray*
2nd- Lindsey Williams, Myrtle Grove*
3rd- Sam Scarborough and Jacob Harris, Holly Shelter

1st- Drew Cummings, Holly Shelter*
2nd- Eli Wilson and Scott Perry, Noble
3rd- Ryan Dunwoody, Holly Shelter

High School Winners
Biological Science
1st- Re’Onna Crawford and Talpha Everette, Isaac Bear Early College*
2nd- Garrett Leatherwood, Isaac Bear Early College*
3rd- Eli Myer, Isaac Bear Early College

Physical Science
1st- Brittany Williams, Laney*
2nd- Kevin Frink, Isaac Bear Early College*
3rd- Marissa Morrison and Erika Brigantti, Isaac Bear Early College

Earth Science
1st- Matthew Stanbury and Christine Chow, Isaac Bear Early College*
2nd- Casey Wenner- Isaac Bear Early College
3rd- Brooke Hoehn- Isaac Bear Early College

1st- Richard Everhart, Isaac Bear Early College*
2nd- Anna Dyches, Isaac Bear Early College

In addition to the winners, Chloe O’Briant, Parsley Elementary, and Emma Bingham and Quinton Juliano, Isaac Bear, were also chosen to represent NHCS at the regional level.

Several students received special awards by local businesses for their outstanding projects. The award recipients include:

· Nathan Kinsey, Murray Elementary School, Airlie Gardens Award
· Taylor McMillon, Parsley Elementary, Cape Fear Museum Award
· Elizabeth Kinsey, Anderson Elementary, Cape Fear Museum Award
· Lindsey Williams, Myrtle Grove Middle, New Hanover County Soil & Water Conservation District Award

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Verizon Call Center Hosts Electronic Recycling Rally March 8

Verizon Wireless is hosting its second public recycling rally at the company’s Wilmington call center on March 8, 2012, at which electronics, as well as glass, plastics and aluminum will be collected. Everything Verizon collects is then shared with a recycler who disposes of the items in strict adherence to Verizon’s zero-tolerance landfill objective. The zero-tolerance policy requires that all materials are reused or recycled with some components stripped down to their essential materials and metals which are then distributed for re-use. “Verizon’s objective with our Recycling Rallies is to provide an easy and convenient way for our employees and the communities we serve to dispose of electronics in an environmentally friendly way. In 2011, Verizon was able to offset the equivalent of 562 tons of Co2 last year through multiple recycling events. This will be our third event in 2012 and we are looking forward to achievement more amazing results for the environment this year,” said Verizon’s Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer James Gowen.

Verizon’s sustainability office has travelled the country hosting e-recycling collection events in at least ten cities a year since 2009. They hosted a rally in Wilmington last July, collecting more here than at any other stop in their three year program. “We expected to fill two tractor trailers in Wilmington by the end of our collection event. We filled them in three hours,” commented John Dorn, of Verizon’s Sustainability Group, adding “By the end of the day, we had called three additional trucks to the site to pick up everything Wilmington’s citizenry recycled that day. It was amazing!”

Items that will be accepted include laptop and desktop computers including all monitors, televisions, computer cables, mice and keyboards, gaming consoles, telephones and answering machines, stereo and audio equipment, paper shredders, alarm clocks, printers, cameras, conferencing equipment, remote controls, earphones, small electronic appliances (such as coffee makers, toasters, toaster ovens and can openers), and electronic toys, without batteries. Standard glass, plastic and aluminum materials will also be accepted. Hard drives will not be wiped.

  • Verizon’s collections guarantee a zero-tolerance landfill

  • Businesses encouraged to drop off computers, monitors, office equipment televisions and all e-waste

  • Drop off on Converse Drive at Call Center, 3/8/11, from 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM

Contact: Margee Herring at 910-233-2466

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dropout Prevention Coalition Issues First Newsletter

The Dropout Prevention Coalition (DPC) was initiated in 2011 by the Watson School of Education with the goal of bringing together a broad audience, representing schools and various community organizations to help students stay and succeed in school across Southeastern NC.

Follow the link below to view the DPC's Newsletter: