UD hires new director for West Dayton incubator

Whitney Barkley,  director of the Greater West Dayton Incubator, an initiative to support Black, woman and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. COURTESY OF WHITNEY BARKLEY

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Whitney Barkley, director of the Greater West Dayton Incubator, an initiative to support Black, woman and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. COURTESY OF WHITNEY BARKLEY

The Greater West Dayton Incubator, a University of Dayton collaboration that helps launch small businesses in underrepresented communities, has a new director.

Whitney Barkley, an area small business owner, started her new role on Oct. 11. Karlos Marshall was the first person to lead the incubator as a manager, but left for another position in the community, a UD spokesperson said. When Barkley was hired, the university elevated the job title to director to better reflect the position.

The GWDI is aimed at providing a connection for neighborhood entrepreneurs and innovators to the university and its resources, as well as a pathway into the region’s startup ecosystem, according to a press release. The organization has been in place for more than a year.

The GWDI offers micro-lending services, networking opportunities, training and education, consulting services, and additional resources to startups and underrepresented firms.

GWDI, with a main location is at 1105 W. Third St. in the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood and an office in The Hub at the Dayton Arcade, works with women, Black people and other underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship.

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The Hub is a 100,000 square foot portion of the Arcade that UD and The Entrepreneurship Center operate together to give entrepreneurs space to develop innovations.

Barkley is a Columbus native who graduated from Wilberforce University, located in the city of Wilberforce.

“Whitney’s energy and enthusiasm about the Greater West Dayton Incubator is evident, and makes even people who have been working on this initiative for over a year more excited,” said Stacy M. Thompson Speare-Hardy, senior vice president and West and Midwest region manager for KeyBank and incubator advisory council chairwoman. “Combined with her experience working with stakeholders in minority business development, she will serve the incubator and community well.”

Barkley said people do not have to be in West Dayton to take advantage of the program, which will help with small loans and coach people who want to start small businesses as they begin.

“What we’re doing is to work with underrepresented business owners and entrepreneurs to help them access the resources that exist inside of the Dayton ecosystem,” Barkley said.

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Barkley launched Speakerazzi, a content marketing services business, in 2015, and she’s been running it full-time since 2018.

“One of the things I’m excited to bring to the table is — because I understand the struggles of small business ownership — figuring out the right product, the right services to offer, how to connect with your target audience; those are all things that I still do in my businesses,” she said. “And I’m so excited to be able to relate and to bring my experiences to the entrepreneurs as well.”

As a college student, Barkley said she worked as a parks ranger and learned about Dayton’s history of innovation. She believes the ingenuity is still in the city.

“I’m just excited to help bring out those untapped entrepreneurs to show people what the city of Dayton is truly made of, and I think they’re made of great entrepreneurs with great ideas who are really and truly ready to take on the world,” Barkley said.

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