DURHAM – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, announced today the formation of the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC). Establishing the NC BEC to serve the entrepreneurial aspirations and economic potential of North Carolina’s Black community, further supports the Foundation’s previous commitment that no less than 50% of programmatic and funding resources be in service to underserved, under-resourced and underrepresented communities, notably minorities, women and rural constituencies.

“We are encouraged and humbled that our announcement of the Council drew an overwhelming response from accomplished individuals, affirming community support for this vital work,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO and President of NC IDEA. “The Council will focus on economically empowering Black people with entrepreneurship, thereby combating economic inequality that perpetuates racial disparities,” Ruhe added.

The following twenty-five individuals are members of the inaugural North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council:

  • Nikita Allen, GROWMETIX (Charlotte)
  • Shannon Baylor-Henderson, Carolina Small Business Development Fund (Elizabeth City)
  • Katrece Boyd, Small Business and Technology Development Center (Raleigh)
  • Spencer Disher, Charlotte Angel Fund (Charlotte)
  • Jerry Edmonds, Vance-Granville Community College (Henderson)
  • Ijeoma Emeka, Bank of America (Charlotte)
  • Perry Harker, Carteret Community College (Beaufort)
  • Patricia Harris, UNC Chapel Hill, School of Education (Chapel Hill)
  • Mark Little, UNC Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill)
  • Tonya Lynch, The Black Light Project (Greenville)
  • Alyssa Martina, Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Elon)
  • Gerry McCants, McCants, LLC (Greensboro)
  • Dee McDougal, Pacific Western Bank (Durham)
  • Rosanna Mulcahy, City of Asheville-Office of Economic Development (Asheville)
  • Dana Newell, BentonNewell Communication (Greenville)
  • Kevin Price, NC Institute of Minority Economic Development (Durham)
  • Karl Ricanek, Lapetus Solutions Inc. (Wilmington)
  • Doug Speight, AnnexTech Partners (Greensboro)
  • Kristi Tally, KD7 Enterprises Inc. (Raleigh)
  • Terik Tidwell, Smith Tech-Innovation Center at Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte)
  • Iesha Usher, Smiile (Greensboro)
  • Desmond Wiggan, BatteryXchange (Charlotte)
  • Calvin Williams, Freeman Capital (Charlotte)
  • Natalie Williams, The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte (Charlotte)
  • Allan Younger, Forsyth Technical Community College (Winston-Salem)

The NC BEC will be supported by NC IDEA staff, Andrea Cook, Daisy Magnus-Aryitey and Thom Ruhe.

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The NC BEC will help guide the Foundation in its programmatic and grant making ambitions in furtherance of North Carolina’s Black community. Council members will work closely with the Foundation to identify, recommend and support partners and programs with the expressed purpose of elevating Black Entrepreneurship in North Carolina. Service on the Council will also include input on the Foundation’s funding decisions, specifically grants awarded to partner organizations through the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM program. The formation of the Council coincides with a recent commitment by the board of directors that the Foundation will manage operating budgets for the next two fiscal years of at least 10% of net assets; namely, twice the minimum amount required by law. The resulting increase in programmatic spend will provide a minimum of $500,000 in funding under the auspice of the newly formed Council with the hope that other organizations, companies and individuals may wish to likewise add funding to these activities.