CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) spent some time at Johnson C. Smith University for an Entrepreneurial Summit. It was the first of its kind event at the Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The SBA is targeting HBCUs to create more business owners.
“We recognize that there are some very, very sharp students who graduate from these HBCUs,” U.S. SBA Deputy District Director Michael Arriola said. “And we sort of find it incumbent upon us - on ourselves to tap into those talents to sort of connect them to our resources to take them further.”
The SBA and other business leaders told the students about the free resources and counseling that are available to students. Resources like the Women’s Business Center of Charlotte and Small Business & Technology Development Center were all present.
During the panel discussion, students were also told of the successes and mistakes of some small businesses. SBA believes the more small businesses that can be created - the better.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy,” Arriola said. “Small businesses create two thirds of net new jobs in this country today.”
Another reason for this education about opening new businesses and instilling the entrepreneurial spirit into students is to address Historically Underutilized Business Zones known as HUBZones. JCSU is in the middle of a HUBZone.
“This is one of the gems of the area,” JCSU Assistant Director of Career Readiness Sonia Youngblood said. “But people just don’t know - some people don’t realize they can start businesses here and some people may be afraid of the area.”
Students walked away from the summit encouraged and excited about starting a business possibly near their Alma Mater. Ambre’Nasia Williams is a graduating senior. She says she has an idea about a business concerning natural hair. She already has a name for her business. She is ready to take advantage of the information she learned at the summit.
“It is such a breath of fresh air to hear this in a city of Charlotte,” JCSU Student Ambre’Nasia Williams said. “Especially here at my HBCU - that is just amazing to hear a lot of information and a lot of resources I did not know that was available to us.”
Williams says she wants to open a business to help others. She also wants to open a business so she can be an example.
“If a young black child or anyone of any ethnicity sees me on TV or sees me out here doing everything I can for my business,” Williams said. “It’ll give them that inspiration and that hope that I can do that.”
JCSU has an entrepreneurial hub at the school library. That is a place where students and the community can use to explore their business ideas and possibly get a business started.
The other HBCU the SBA is working with is Shaw University.