Businesses across North Carolina boost local economies by bringing goods and services to their communities, adding jobs and building wealth. These businesses of various sizes and industries contribute in meaningful ways to the economic potential of the region, counties, and neighborhoods. The pioneering minds that create, shape, and lead these enterprises add significant value to their communities by expanding economic opportunity while enhancing well-being. Business ownership provides entrepreneurs the creative freedom and independence to transform their talent and aspirations into real economic benefit  not only for themselves but for the people they employ and the investments they pour into the communities in which they live, work, and play.

In spite of enormous barriers, many entrepreneurs of color have proven that business success can uplift entire neighborhoods and communities. Enterprises such as the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, incorporated in 1899 in Durham, have stood as shining examples of ingenuity, perseverance, and innovation. Businesses of color, inspired by the legacy of North Carolina Mutual, Wheeler Airlines, and Mechanics & Farmers Bank, continue to employ, empower, and serve a diverse set of communities in the midst of changing conditions and uncertain times.

As North Carolina considers the work of building long-term resiliency, the role of businesses owned by people of color should be a central consideration. This BTC Report details the potential to support the economic growth of the local economy and drive wealth to communities through a focus on supporting businesses owned by people of color. The expansion of businesses of color underscores enormous potential for the broader economy in North Carolina. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of businesses of color saw an increase of nearly 40 percent leading to new jobs and wealth, a boon for all North Carolinians. However, persistent barriers mean that businesses owned by people of color could be falling short of their full potential contribution to overall economic growth. The institutions that are proven to address persistent and unique barriers faced by these businesses are critical in supporting the acceleration of existing businesses owned by people of color to expand their operations, employment base, and ability to engage with larger markets.