RNC 2020 organizers commit to Black business inclusion

Black leaders are developing a directory of Charlotte's Black businesses to ensure diverse vendors involved with the 2020 Republican National Convention.

A group of Black leaders are developing a directory of local Black-owned businesses to present to the Charlotte 2020 Host Committee for the Republican National Convention set for Aug. 24-27, 2020.

John Lassiter, Charlotte 2020 Host Committee CEO, recently told Black Enterprise Magazine that it’s too early in the process to discuss specifics but said, “The Charlotte 2020 Host Committee is working to create a workforce and vendor opportunity strategy with a focus on local and regional spend, inclusivity and diversity. We want diverse residents and businesses, including Black-owned businesses, to help showcase our community and realize the economic benefits of this major event.”

Charlotte City Council member James Mitchell, chair of the City’s economic development committee, said that Charlotte 2020 should dedicate 30 percent of vendor contracts to minority and women-owned businesses. Over the summer, he began working with a group of community leaders and organizations including the local NAACP chapter, Urban League of Central Carolinas and Black Political Caucus to identify Black-owned businesses to present to the Host Committee.

“What they won’t be able to do, is say that they can’t find the Black businesses,” said Mitchell. “It’s a little embarrassing that a city as large as Charlotte doesn’t have a [comprehensive] Black business directory.”

Shanté Williams, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce (CMBCC) chair, expressed concerns about how the RNC’s interest in minority businesses will be communicated.

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“While I am happy they are considering some inclusion for Black-owned businesses, what’s going to be critical is how we actually reach Black businesses within our community,” Williams said. “We often see these types of hurdles put out there — not great dissemination of information or a lack of access to be able to obtain or achieve requirements to participate in these conventions.”

Mitchell said his group is building out the list of businesses and will reconvene in January. Once complete with their recommendations, the team will share it with the Host Committee. Meanwhile, interested businesses can sign up for vendor opportunities and updates through the charlottein2020.com website.

According to Lassiter, the Host Committee is on track to raise $70 million for the convention.

Kallan Louis is a writer and consultant for qcitymetro.com. He does a lot, but never feels like he’s doing enough. His life can be described as a Venn Diagram: News media, Black culture and sports. He’s always on TV, but rarely seen.

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