James Mitchell goes from at-large city councilman to co-owner/president of Black business

Mitchell says in December he got a call from former chairman and CEO of Bank of America Hugh...
Mitchell says in December he got a call from former chairman and CEO of Bank of America Hugh McColl about an exciting opportunity.(Dedrick Russell/WBTV)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 8:32 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC WBTV) - A 20-year politician, James Mitchell has now decided to resign his job as Charlotte city at-large councilman.

His resignation went into effect at 5 p.m. Monday.

Mitchell says in December he got a call from former chairman and CEO of Bank of America Hugh McColl about an exciting opportunity.

Business leaders Malcomb Coley and Lloyd Yates were also on the call. They are owners of a new company called Bright Hope Capital, LLC. Mitchell says what was offered - he couldn’t refuse. He liked the conversation.

“About joining an investment firm,” former city councilman James Mitchell said. “Main focus was on acquiring African American businesses to uplift them.”

The first business that was acquired was RJ Leeper Construction. Mitchell was offered to be co-owner and president of the Black-owned construction company. Mitchell considers the owner of RJ Leeper - Ron Leeper - as a father figure.

“To me - it was the perfect situation to take over a company that has a great branding,” Mitchell said. “Great employees and to be able to learn from my mentor on the business side.”

The new co-owner says he thought about doing both jobs but realized he couldn’t be great at being a councilman and president. He believes it is important to concentrate on Black businesses.

“You’re talking about generational wealth,” Mitchell said. “And we don’t have a lot of generational wealth in our community.”

Mitchell says he wants to grow the company and hire more people. RJ Leeper construction is currently working on projects at the Charlotte Convention Center and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. He says his priority is safety and to let workers know he wants the best for them. He’s already had a talk with each employee about the vision going forward.

“I heard them talking about their career goals,” he said. “Sending their kids to college, taking a vacation and so now as president - that responsibility kind of falls on my shoulders to get enough work so our employees can accomplish those things.”

Mitchell gave employees a bump in pay and some company swag to show they are appreciated. As Mitchell is now focused on his company - he is grateful for the work he has accomplished while on the city council.

He was passionate about the city creating jobs and economic mobility. He says there is much more work to do in Charlotte when it comes to police reform, affordable housing, creating jobs for people who deserve a second chance, and increasing transportation.

“We are going to be at almost over a million people in a year and a half,” Mitchell said. “And I don’t know how you are going to be able to move a million people through the city if we don’t have good public transportation, so I am looking for this Council to continue to rally - talking about the good benefits of passing sales tax in November.”

Mitchell’s term is up in December. He says he didn’t plan to run again for re-election. Somebody will fill the seat temporarily until December.

The former councilmember who will now be a citizen has advice for the person who will be voted in as the next at-large city councilman.

“Looking for someone who can bring a balance,” Mitchell said. “Looking for someone who understands economic development - passionate about minority businesses.”

Mitchell’s philosophy is if people don’t love Charlotte more than they love themselves - they shouldn’t run for office.

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