WASHINGTON — A business incubator in Georgetown is growing entrepreneurs that could change the world.
It’s all happening at the historic Halcyon, which is almost as old as the country itself. One of the neophyte companies has a plan to bring a new conversation to the table for gentrification.
If you're not familiar with business incubators, they are a fairly recent creation. The business or nonprofit helps young ventures climb the ropes of industry.
"You get lawyers, Deloitte consultants, everything you need to scale a vision to a fully fledged venture," Halcyon Chief Executive Kate Goodall said.
The Halcyon Incubator is just one of four programs happening at the Halcyon House. Incubator staff chooses about a dozen entrepreneurs for an 18-month fellowship that includes a place to work, mentoring, leadership coaching, the consultants and a stipend to help with living expenses while they develop their dreams.
Halcyon House also has an arts fellowship, an annual publication that looks at changing topics and speaker series that focuses on visionary women entrepreneurs.
The fellows in the business incubator even live in the house for the first five months.
Unlike most incubators, Halcyon sponsors only businesses aimed at changing society.
The problem he saw: investment in poor communities.
"What happens when a whole bunch of money from outside comes in?" Whalen-Robinson said. "Gentrification. Displacement. Forced evictions."
There's that word — gentrification.
Whalen-Robinson's business wanted to change how gentrification affects urban neighborhoods. The idea is to get small investors with local ties involved in the development to create affordable housing.
"If you get 10 of you, if you get 20 of you, 100 of you, 1,000 of you, then you can pool that money and be impactful in the developing you do," he said.
► JUNE 2018: Ohio chocolatier goes national with business incubator help
► OCTOBER 2017: Virginia business incubator gets $500K grant
So far, investments in Baltimore and Atlanta have created layers of affordable housing in neighborhoods that otherwise might have seen new money come in with luxury condos, forcing the community out.
He just finished up his time at Halcyon and now is ready for Southbanc to take off.
"Without Halcyon guiding me to these people, without that straight line, we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are now," he said.