Mr. Dwayne Wilkins grew up knowing he wanted to create opportunities for businesses and residents of New Jersey. His grandfather was one of the first African American police officers in Montclair, and his grandmother led efforts to enforce compliance with affirmative action in the construction industry. They also played a prominent role in the community and civic life of Essex County—together, these two influences taught him the power of politics from a young age. But while civic duty was part of his upbringing, he did not consider the potential for offshore wind to provide the opportunities he sought for his state until 2022.
A string of events and his extreme curiosity led Mr. Wilkins to the offshore wind industry. As Operations Manager at a small carpentry firm in Newark, Wilkins was eager to help the minority-owned business scale up. Attending a luncheon, he heard leaders from New Jersey’s Governor to Newark’s mayor detail the opportunities for businesses in Atlantic City. A few days later, he received an email from the NJ Economic Development Authority highlighting business opportunities in Atlantic City, specifically in offshore wind. The rest is history.
Within a few months, General Electric selected Mr. Wilkins to attend the Business Network for Offshore Wind’s annual IPF conference in Atlantic City. He had started his own firm—The Wilkinz Group, a Newark-based consulting firm focused on business development and community engagement in underserved communities in NJ. In 2023 he returned to IPF, this time leading a panel.
As Mr. Wilkins sees it, the offshore wind industry provides a “soup of opportunity”: bringing together developers, government agencies, and small businesses who can support these major projects. The industry will need the support of local businesses and their workforces, and cities like Newark are primed to provide exactly the inputs required. Wilkins, a lifelong Newark resident, is keenly aware of all that his state and city have to offer. From colleges like Rutgers and NJ Institute of Technology; to the busiest seaport in the country; to a rich cultural diversity across each neighborhood, Wilkins stands poised to stir this soup and serve up opportunities in Newark and beyond.
When asked about what success looks like for his business, Wilkins barely pauses. For him, it looks like helping other people and creating a healthy ecosystem for the next generation so that they grow up seeing opportunities like those available in the renewable energy sector. Longer term, his dream is even more specific: imagine a rich grandpa sitting on a porch (surely in NJ) and sharing his connections, opportunities, and knowledge with anyone who stops by to ask for help.
At the end of the day, Mr. Wilkins is a connector. As he continues to teach business owners and locals about opportunities to join the emerging offshore wind industry, he will inevitably reach his goal of helping others through the opportunities he opens up. Learn more about Wilkins and his work at thewilkinzgroup.com.