Nia McAdoo hopes a new partnership between the city of Charlotte and a group that hopes to start, grow and scale 1 million Black-owned businesses nationwide by 2030 will make things easier for future entrepreneurs like herself.
McAdoo was working full time as an associate director of UNC Charlotte’s Student Activities division in 2008 when she started Amped Events, a printing business that made signs and other banners, mostly for colleges and universities across the country.
While she would eventually take advantage of several city programs to help small
businesses, in the beginning she says she had little more than a laptop to help her as she juggled a full-time job and her new venture.
She “Googled” everything, she says, to help start and then grow a business that over 15 years would come to have more than a dozen employees. She sold Amped Events last year to another Black female entrepreneur.
“Can you imagine if I started that business with a mentor or access to capital or a desk,” she asked Tuesday.
McAdoo shared her success story on the day Charlotte officials announced it would partner its small business resources with Operation HOPE’s 1 Million Black Businesses initiative. The city wants to connect Black entrepreneurs with mentors, training and resources with a focus of creating a pathway to generational wealth.
“I’m hoping other entrepreneurs have it easier than I did,” says McAdoo.
Atlanta-based Operation Hope began in 1992 to provide financial literacy and education programs to low-income Americans. The group launched its 1 Million Black Businesses initiative in 2020 and has since partnered with other cities including Atlanta, New York and Memphis, Tennessee.
At no cost to either the city or participants, the nationwide program will provide Black entrepreneurs with business coaches already in Charlotte or available through virtual meetings. Those coaches will help Charlotte entrepreneurs learn how to gain access to capital, mentorships and other tools and resources needed to grow a business, says Joann Massey, a senior vice president based in Memphis with HOPE’S 1 Million Black Businesses.
She says the program works.
“If we don’t do it for ourselves today, it’s not going to happen and tomorrow is too late,” Massey told a group of more than 100 that met for the announcement at Shiloh Institutional Baptist Church. “We won’t be talking about this 20 years from now. We won’t be talking about this 50 years from now. We will have Black millionaires in the city of Charlotte from businesses that have grown.”
A donation of $1.5 million from Shopify has helped 1 Million Black Businesses connect with 155,000 unique businesses since its start three years ago. The group also has built partnerships with corporations, colleges and professional sports teams, says Massey.
People gain access to the one-on-one coaching and other tools through the city of Charlotte’s small business programs, Massey said.