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Business

Investment firm Bright Hope Capital buys RJ Leeper Construction
Financing for BIPOC companies in region
 
Published Monday, January 4, 2021 7:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

PHOTO | LUQUIRE GEORGE ANDREWS
An artist's rendering of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where RJ Leeper Construction is a renovation contractor. RJ Leeper has been acquired by Bright Hope Capital LLC, an investment firm co-founded by EY Charlotte managing partner Malcomb Coley, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl and Duke Energy executive Lloyd Yates.

Three Charlotte business leaders have launched an investment firm to establish and bolster Black and Hispanic-owned businesses in the Charlotte area.  


Bright Hope Capital LLC includes primary investors Malcomb Coley, EY Charlotte managing partner, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl and Duke Energy executive Lloyd Yates. Today they announced the firm’s first acquisition, with Charlotte-based RJ Leeper Construction, a full-service construction management and general contractor company. Ron

Leeper founded RJ Leeper in 1993, three years after meeting with McColl to discuss the lack of representation for Black Charlotteans in the construction industry. The company focuses on commercial construction projects and is licensed in North and South Carolina. Under Leeper, it has completed over 150 projects with a total value surpassing $650 million.

RJ Leeper Construction is working with Holder Construction and Edison Foard on renovating the Charlotte Convention Center and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Leeper will retire, but remain involved with the company as a consultant for Bright Hope Capital.


“This acquisition represents a significant and exciting milestone for our company,” Leeper said in a statement. “I’ve come full circle with Mr. McColl first encouraging me to enter the construction business, and now, leveraging his team’s expertise to grow the business I’ve poured my heart into for more than 25 years.”


Charlotte native and at-large City Council member James Mitchell will serve as RJ Leeper Construction’s president.


“Ron has been a friend and teacher to me for over 30 years, preparing me to be a good public servant and introducing me to the construction industry,” Mitchell said. “I’ve learned so much from him that I affectionately refer to him as ‘Mentor,’ and I’m humbled to take the baton from him and lead the organization he has built. I’ve met one-on-one with the entire Leeper Construction team, and I’m impressed with the talent we have and excited by what we can accomplish together.”


Bright Hope Capital is designed to acquire and operate minority-owned businesses, providing them with financial resources to expand to create more jobs, and to help local communities build wealth. They intend to offer 401Ks, as well as healthcare and education reimbursement plans.


“Too often we see promising Black- and Hispanic-owned companies that lack the financial and social capital necessary to grow to the next level,” Coley said in a statement. “With the support, experience and passionate leadership of this partnership group, we hope to help entrepreneurs create economic opportunity for themselves, their employees and the community.” 


Their target is 12 acquisitions.


“For each of us, this is not just about a return on investment. It’s about impact,” McColl said. “We want to be a force for good so businesses that have historically lacked the necessary resources can thrive and create the kind of economic impact that will benefit the Charlotte community, which we all love so dearly.”


The investors represent more than a century of combined experience in business and investment. Coley is the U.S. central growth market leader and Charlotte managing partner for accounting, auditing and consulting firm EY. His experience lends itself to helping companies expand.


 McColl oversaw Bank of America’s growth 50-fold before retiring in 2001. He is co-founder of McColl Partners, a middle-market merger and acquisition advisory firm, and Falfurrias Capital, a middle-market private equity firm.
 
Yates, who worked in the energy industry for over 35 years, retired as executive vice president of Duke Energy and president of Duke Energy’s Carolinas region in 2019.


“I am excited to be part of this innovative team of doers and look forward to investing and creating value in even more minority-owned companies such as RJ Leeper Construction,” he said. “We hope this will serve as a model for other cities who are looking to improve economic opportunity, equity and access for people of color.”
 

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