Local & State
|RNC Charlotte organizer to black vendors: We're open for business|
|John Lassiter pledges inclusion for 2020 convention|
|Published Wednesday, July 25, 2018 10:42 am|
|Republican National Convention Charlotte organizer John Lassiter says African American vendors will be included in the 2020 national meeting, which is expected to generate at least $100 million in local economic impact.|
African American business interests want a piece of the Republican National Convention.
City Council member James Mitchell, who supported Charlotte’s winning 2020 bid, is pushing stakeholders to organize an inclusion strategy with the convention’s local organizers. The goal is to alert political, social and business leaders to economic opportunities ahead.
“We need to clearly articulate what African American companies we have to participate, if they can do catering, if they can do security, if they can do promotional events,” Mitchell said on The Post’s In Other Words podcast. “I want to deliver to John [Lassiter, chair of the local RNC committee] input from our African American community …companies that we would like to participate and we have vetted them already. The worst thing we can do is give them 20 companies and the RNC goes through another vetting process and only three people get the contract.”
There’s no shortage of black entrepreneurs in the Charlotte region, which has an estimated 13,000 African American-owned businesses. In the city of Charlotte’s 2017 data base of 873 certified minority and women vendors, 356, or 40 percent are African American – the largest demographic group in its director.
White women account for 23 percent (202 vendors) while white men make up 21 percent (184). Latinos own 83 certified companies, or 10 percent of the total.
Seventy-five percent of city-certified vendors are in Mecklenburg County.
Lassiter, a former council colleague of Mitchell’s, said the Republicans will do their part to expand the vendor tent.
“We do have a very clear direction to do a couple of things,” he said. “One is to try to buy local whenever possible, so [we’re] utilizing the broad range of small- and medium-size businesses in our market for the wide variety of services and activities that will be needed for a successful convention. But within that group of businesses, we want to aggressively attract quality, high-performing diverse businesses that can be the core of what we do.”
Although there are no hard and fast requirements for small business participation, Mitchell said city leaders and the GOP should be held accountable for ensuring everyone has an opportunity to participate in convention-related business. The national gathering is expected to pump a minimum $100 million into Charlotte’s local economy.
“We made a vote, the citizens put confidence in us and told us to go represent them,” Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, we have to take that responsibility. If the RNC is doing things we don’t accept, I think we have to discuss with them that this is not acceptable.”
GOP organizers will use the city’s MWSBE database as a starting point for bringing in vendors, in addition to using its own website, www.charlottein2020.com.
“We plan to use a variety of sources to make that happen, so the city has developed a strong list of minority and women-owned businesses,” said Lassiter, a former chair of the North Carolina Economic Development Board. “Similarly, there has been a list developed for the NBA All-Star Game and other major events that are held in our community, so we’re going to look to a growing list of high-quality, high-performing diverse businesses that are going to be needed for a good convention.”
Mitchell is banking on it – especially for historically underutilized businesses.
“If James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell does not create opportunities for African Americans to receive contracts,” he said, “then you all have the right not to vote for me.”
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