Henry Rock to Speak at the BB&T Center for Free Enterprise Education Lecture on March 23

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WILSON, N.C. —March 9, 2017 — Executive Director and Founder of City Startup Labs Henry Rock will alter preconceived notions about entrepreneurship, especially as it relates to inner-city America, when he speaks at the Barton College’s 2017 BB&T Center for Free Enterprise Education Lecture on Thursday, March 23, at 11 a.m. The event, to be held in Hardy Alumni Hall and hosted by the College’s School of Business, will be open by invitation only.

Established in 2008 by the BB&T Charitable Foundation, Barton College’s BB&T Center for Free Enterprise Education supports the College’s commitment to excellence and innovation as the School of Business prepares future leaders for the global business environment of the 21st Century.

City Startup Labs is a non-profit organization dedicated to stimulating and supporting entrepreneurial activity and innovation from within inner-city America. In January 2014, City Startup Labs launched its first initiative in collaboration with the Urban League of Central Carolinas, an academy designed to provide accelerated entrepreneurial education for African-American male millennials.

“City Startup Labs (CSL) grew out of an idea to do something thoughtful and of real value to address the issue of the employability of young men of color,” Rock explains on the City Startup Labs website. “African American men, in particular, have a difficult time getting and keeping jobs. They consistently lag behind their white and Hispanic counterparts. According to a Princeton University ‘Discrimination in Low Wage Labor Markets’ study,  ‘Even without criminal records, black applicants had low rates of positive responses, about the same as the response rate for white applicants with criminal records. Hispanics also faced discrimination by employers, but were preferred relative to blacks.’ So rather than rely on others to define and write their future, it’s time [for] these young men to be empowered to write or rewrite their own script, by becoming a new class of entrepreneurs.

“In the late Summer of 2011, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg announced the Young Men’s Initiative to address the harsh present and future facing many young men of color from the ages of 14-24 years,” Rock added. “The intention of the initiative is to focus on education, the criminal justice system, employment, and health care. What was missing from this puzzle, in my estimation, was attention on self-employment and entrepreneurship.”

Rock summed up his explanation, noting, “As a result, CSL was created to provide an academy of instruction, training, mentoring, and coaching to prepare these young men to become viable entrepreneurs, thereby contributing to not only themselves, but their families, communities, and the country in a fundamentally positive way.”

City Startup Labs continues to move forward in its mission, and, in 2016, it established a Center of Excellence for Entrepreneurial Competency, Innovation, and Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Rock has over two decades of experience in media sales, advertising and marketing, in addition to business development and strategic planning for small black-owned and operated businesses, including his own ventures. In 2013, he was featured at a TEDx Talk in Charlotte about re-imagining young black men as a new class of entrepreneurs. He has studied economics at Rutgers University and marketing at the Keller Graduate School of Business Management.

For additional information about City Startup Labs, visit www.citystartuplabs.com.

For more information about the BB&T Center for Free Enterprise Education, please contact Dr. John J. Bethune, Center Director and the Dorothy and K. D. Kennedy Chair in Business at (252) 399-6422 or at jbethune@barton.edu.

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