The Future is NOW

The Future is NOW


Back in the day, before automated vehicles and streaming services, we knew we would live in a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) would help us make important decisions. We always envisioned a time where robots would lighten our work loads and our energy could be used to develop new ideas. That time is here. While it’s not quite what we saw in movies, we are already integrating AI into our daily lives.


Last month, CNBC reported that “employees will need new skills in an AI empowered future”. We argue that those new skills are necessary NOW. As a result, we are transforming our training to reflect these skill-sets in what we call the 21 st Century Workforce Development. This development approach will center entrepreneurial training and will include digital tech services. It will also take into account the 56 Foundational Skills identified by Mckinsey & Company in 2021.

In May, during Charlotte’s Small Business Month, we celebrated Innovation Week. The Re-Entry Entrepreneurship Program (REEP)  kicked the week off with the Build phase of the Learn Earn Build model. In the Build phase, participants applied what they learned throughout the session. They also received their Business- in-a- Box which included $2500 in kick-starter capital. As AI develops and technology becomes more accessible, we believe innovation will only become easier. With support, we believe that small, minority-owned businesses, like those currently being developed in this REEP cohort,  will be able to leverage this accessibility. A huge thank you to our sponsors at Ally Bank and Truist Bank. Stay tuned for updates from our entrepreneurs about their small businesses!

Since 2018, REEP has been working to meet the immediate needs of returning citizens, including employment. In 2021, we had the honor and pleasure of working with Tiffany White. After experiencing a number of losses, Tiffany pushed through and completed the program. She is now a Digital Navigator at the Center for Digital Equity. Learn about Tiffany’s triumphant rise from the ashes:

One of the challenges that all entrepreneurs face is funding their businesses. BLK Tech Interactive hosted our first Fundable workshop this month to address that challenge. Walter Frye, seasoned angel investor, and Greg Brown, President of Cardinal Finance and Administrator of the Charlotte Angel Fund, led us in a conversation about funding your startup with angel investments. It was an awesome and insightful discussion that touched on the ways to position your startup to receive angel investors and how to network with local investors.


This workshop sold out so we encourage you to keep your eyes on this space so that you can be ready to register for the next one. We truly hope to see you there!


Angel Padilla has made such an impact on the team at CSL. As an intern, Angel has demonstrated her commitment to supporting Charlotte’s innovators. She recently graduated from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. She focused her studies on dismantling systemic racism and supporting returning citizens in their efforts to build technical and entrepreneurial skills. She aims to continue her studies and pursue a Masters and a J.D. in Social Work. She is truly an awesome asset to the team!

As you can see, we have quite a bit going on at City Startup Labs, but with each day we gladly “start anew” and count every blessing.

With Gratitude ~

Henry Rock, Founder & Executive Director City Startup Labs

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