Kenosha has been identified as the next location for gener8tor’s gBETA program.
The city has been awarded $990,000 as part of Gov. Tony Evers’ Workforce Innovation Grant Program. gBETA is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with local, early-stage startups so they can gain early customer traction for their product or idea. The program also helps startups establish metrics to become competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment. The gBETA program in Kenosha will work specifically with startup founders of color and women.
Abby Kursel, partner with gener8tor and managing director of gBETA, said this was important to both the city and the gBETA program because they’re hoping to build the community back up following the 2020 riots that left many Kenosha business owners reeling.
“We’re strong believers that talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Startups and innovation can really transform a community in terms of importing more venture capital and jobs into those communities. As we’ve seen, things have not necessarily been easy within the community in Kenosha for the last year and a half,” Kursel said.
The grant funding will cover the costs of running the Kenosha gBETA program for three years. There will be two gBETA programs running each year for three years. The funding will also cover the costs of hiring a full-time director who will be based locally to support the startups and other expenses related to setting up shop. Kursel said the city and gBETA are hoping they can move into the former Brown National Bank building at 2300 63rd St.
“Our goal is to have a full-time director hired and trained up so that we can launch our first program in the summer (of 2022),” Kursel said.
She added that while people might not initially think of Kenosha as a hub for innovation, that’s simply because local entrepreneurs have yet to be discovered.
“I think a lot of the places that gBETA brings our program to… on the outside it might not look like there’s a ton going on, but once we actually put boots on the ground and get to start meeting people in the community, you realize how much activity is actually going on,” Kursel said.
There are also gBETA programs in Milwaukee and Madison.