We've all met someone in life whose job title defies description. That's probably the best way to describe William “Citi” Medina.
Entrepreneur and businessman. Check. Consultant and adviser. That, too. Not to mention unofficial ambassador of culture and community for Newark.
He's now adding “incubator” to that list.
The 33-year-old Medina, who has spent the past five years growing his marketing and media consulting firm in the Brick City, is now creating Newark's first permanent co-working environment. Known as =Space (Equal Space), the new facility will operate alongside the new headquarters for his firm, MEDINA=CITI, in a newly restored three-story home in the city's historic Lincoln Park section.
It's a move aimed at fostering startups and young businesses, in part by offering them the services of MEDINA=CITI and its five employees.
“We take new innovators under our wing and we substantially lower our price point to help them brand themselves, network and really help them build up what their dream is,” he said.
The company is splitting the nearly $1 million investment with its partner, Community Asset Preservation Association (CAPA). They're seeking to complete the project by October, with plans to accommodate about 100 people in its business event space and 44 in its “share space.”
The move comes five years after Medina relocated to Newark from his hometown of Brooklyn, where he founded his firm less than a year earlier. Since coming to the Brick City, he has seen the entrepreneurial community — and his company — expand.
MEDINA=CITI's five core employees consult companies in the fields of print and Web design, multimedia production and marketing strategies including social media management.
Medina said the planned opening of =Space further signifies an effort sets its roots deeper into the city. It also comes as Newark continues efforts to establish itself as a technology hub.
With the opening of =Space, Newark will have its first permanent co-working space. It's an important investment in the city's future as a potential East Coast technology hub.
Emily Manz, a real estate and business attraction associate at Brick City Development Corp. (BCDC) — a nonprofit founded to attract, maintain and support businesses in Newark — says Medina is on to something.
Manz feels there is a growing need for a common ground that would allow techies and entrepreneurs to engage one another, she said. Already, the city has groups such as Brick City Tech Meetup, Startup Newark and Innovation Technology Meetup.
“So there's a lot of tech meet-up groups, but we wanted to open up a space to allow them to host their events,” Manz said. “That way you're working throughout the day, but there's social as well as educational events throughout the evening.”
Medina recognizes this same growing need and the potential within it — and how =Space can bolster that going forward.
In the meantime, he'll continue to wear his many hats in Newark — including that of the city's unofficial ambassador.
“Everybody who comes in contact with me always laughs and says, 'Medina will get you to sign a lease in Newark the next day that you visit,' ” he said. “Either by showing my studio space or showing them the local restaurants, I will convince you that Newark is really the place to live and to establish your dream as an entrepreneur and business owner.”
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THE BIZ IN BRIEF
Executives: Sean Hairston, CEO; Rafael Roman, COO; William Medina, creative director
One More Thing: Medina’s name is Arabic for “The Radiant City.”