City Council member Malcolm Graham speaks at event outlining a new initiative for Black-owned businesses in Charlotte. Photo: Jalon Hill/QCity Metro

The City of Charlotte will partner with a nationwide program to support and grow local Black businesses, officials announced Tuesday.

The 1 Million Black Businesses Initiative plans to “start, scale, and grow” one million black businesses by 2030 across the nation.

Why it matters: Nearly 80% of Black-owned businesses in Charlotte shut down due to the challenges during the pandemic, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Chambers of Commerce.

Through Operation HOPE, the city will launch “opportunity hubs” throughout Charlotte’s Corridors of Opportunity.  

These hubs will host classes, workshops and camps to connect black business owners to tools such as:

  • Financial education and 1:1 coaching to help meet personal financial goals
  • Business education and coaching services
  • Shopify and Quickbooks Subscriptions
  • Access to a pool of expert volunteers

iHeartMedia affiliates will also provide social media support and advertising to a select group of entrepreneurs in the future.

Councilman Malcolm Graham said the goal of the program is to build “generational wealth.”

“We want to do our fair share in Charlotte to make sure [Black businesses] they have the resources and connections necessary to scale out,” councilman Malcolm Graham told QCity Metro.

The initiative launched in 2020 through a $1.5 million donation from Shopify, a multinational e-commerce company. Atlanta, New York City and Memphis, TN, are among several major cities in the initiative. 

So far, the initiative has connected with over 169,000 Black businesses nationwide.

Joann Massey, senior vice president of the initiative, said the program will serve as a necessary resource for Black entrepreneurs who often face racial discrimination when seeking support.

“At the end of the day, there is no savior coming,” she said. “If we don’t do it for ourselves, it’s not going to happen.”

The program is free of charge. Participants can register by contacting the city of Charlotte.

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Jalon is a general assignment reporter for QCity Metro. He is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and an avid sports fan. (

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