James Mitchell quietly exits R.J. Leeper Construction

Mitchell assumed the top role at R.J. Leeper Construction earlier this year after a Charlotte-based investment firm acquired the company. 

James Mitchell is out as president of R.J. Leeper Construction, less than six months after joining one of the region’s largest Black-owned companies.

A call to Leeper Construction on July 16 confirmed that Mitchell’s last day was July 2, although no further details were shared. He was still listed on the company’s website as of the writing of this report. 

Mitchell did not respond after repeated attempts to contact him.

In January, Charlotte-based investment firm Bright Hope Capital LLC purchased Leeper Construction for an undisclosed price and named Mitchell as president — taking over from his longtime mentor and the company’s founder, R.J. Leeper, who announced his retirement as part of the agreement.

Mitchell also acquired a 25% ownership stake in the deal. The percentage of his ownership raised conflict-of-interest concerns, with the potential of his dual roles as a public official and leader of a company that did business with city government. North Carolina statute 14-234 prohibits elected officials from personally benefiting from public contracts, which included owning more than 10% of an entity involved in government contracts.

Mitchell, a Charlotte native who served on Charlotte’s City Council since 1999, resigned from his at-large position days after the acquisition announcement. 

“I was not aware of NC-14-234,” he told reporters during a Jan. 11 virtual press conference. “And so that really had about a 30% impact on my decision to resign.”

Mitchell previously worked for JE Dunn Construction and Barton Malow. On July 1, he began a four-year term as a board of trustee at his alma mater, North Carolina Central University.

Katrina Louis
Katrina covers Charlotte's Black business scene for QCity Metro. She's a Miami transplant, pescatarian and lover of the arts. She earned a public relations degree from the University of Florida. Got a news tip? Email her at katrinalouis@qcitymetro.com.

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