Charlotte becoming a destination for minority businesses

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The kitchen of a Fourth Ward restaurant offers an active stage where desires of a local chef are carried out.

Cliff Freshwater was lured to Charlotte like many minority entrepreneurs now setting up shop and taking advantage of a growing economy.

"I felt good here, and I wanted to bring my business back home. So that's what we decided to do," he said.

Freshwater, a North Carolina native, and his wife, Sharon, opened the uptown restaurant three years ago after spending nearly three decades running a similar eatery in Plainfield, New Jersey.

"So far, Charlotte has been showing us a lot of love," Freshwater said.

That kind of love that may be attracting more than 1,200 to a national African-American business conference underway in the city this week.

Earl Butch Graves Jr is the president and CEO of Black Enterprise publications, who is sponsoring the entrepreneurs' summit.

"It's the right business environment, and there's a lot of construction going on and growth in the city itself," Graves said.

Those who call Charlotte home, like City Council member James Mitchell, see new doors opening.

"We've got a strong focus on our disparity study of making sure minority and women-owned companies get contracts," Mitchell explained. "We're talking about doing more small business initiatives. We're talking about doing initiatives in our corridors."

One of the corridors Mitchell speaks of is Graham Street, were Freshwater continues to chase his passion.

"There's more people here willing to help you out," Freshwater said. "There's more people willing to show you the way."

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