At the CIAA - Is it still a priority to keep minority businesses - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

At the CIAA - Is it still a priority to keep minority businesses in the game?

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This is the ninth year the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (C.I.A.A.) is having its tournament in Charlotte. Nine years ago there was a big push to make sure minority businesses got a piece of the profits and the CIAA had contracts with those businesses. 

Some say things have changed.

"I don't see the push now," Dave and Fran's Owner Dave Cook said.  "And in all fairness to the CIAA, maybe they have met their targets."

Last year the tournament pumped about $47 million into the local economy. The question is how much of that money went to minority businesses.

Cook says the new CIAA commissioner is tightening things up when it comes to people using the CIAA brand. The rules were relaxed when the tournament first came to Charlotte.

"But now there's a structured program," Cook said. "Whether you have to buy and get a license to use CIAA logo and as a result that has hurt smaller businesses. Lot of the minority businesses don't know the route to take or can't afford it."

CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter says this concern is something she wants to focus on but she knows she can't tackle this by herself.

"That's not just the conference," Carpenter said. "But the city or the host have to help bridge that gap."

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) has a list of all the business it contracted out with the CIAA.  WBTV requested a list to see what companies are on the list, but officials said it would take some time to compile it. In the meantime, Eric Watson, CEO of Minority Supplier Development Council hopes there are plenty of minority business doing work for the CIAA.

"It's important that we as minority businesses," Watson said. "Support HBCU's and it's also important for HBCU's to support minority businesses.

They should work hand in hand, because at the end of the day the benefit is students and if we are not working together, we are working against each other."

State Senator Malcolm Graham is also concerned.

"It's just making sure we capture where the money spend is," Graham said. "And ask the conference the question: to what are they doing to promote the utilization of black businesses as they promote the conference."

Cook understands why CIAA is making things strict to preserve its brand, but at the same time he just wants to make sure African American businesses are still getting a fair shake when the profitable tournament comes to town.

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