CHARLOTTE – In the aftermath of the 2016 police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, three co-founders, Sherrell Dorsey, Enovia Bedford, and Freda Hendley, launched a discussion about equity in the city’s innovation community.  Later, the trio founded the technology training hub BLKTECHCLT, which announced this week that it has been acquired by the Charlotte-based nonprofit City Startup Labs.

“We’ve spent the last four years building one of the most substantive ecosystem support companies in Charlotte that focused on data-driven programming and support to the most overlooked group in the city: well-educated Black techies and budding high-growth tech entrepreneurs,” said Sherrell Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of BLKTECHCLT, in a statement shared with WRAL TechWire this week.  “We’re beyond excited to transition the body of our work to the City Startup Labs team.”

City Startup Labs, runs an accelerator program for aspiring African American millennial entrepreneurs and also assists returning citizens, who were formerly incarcerated, in launching businesses through its ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program.

“This acquisition now makes it possible for us to focus our activities with young entrepreneurs within technology fields – especially advanced technologies,” said Henry Rock, founder and CEO of City Startup Labs.

When Dorsey, Bedford, and Hendley launched their first event, interest was high, and they went on to organize additional events, attracting speakers and attendees from companies across the region, and connected entrepreneurs and talented technologists with firms like Google Ventures, Impact America Fund, Airbnb, and Twitter, according to a statement issued by the company.  The organization also developed partnerships with AvidXChange, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, and Flatiron School, and was named the 2018 Tech Champion of the Year by Black Enterprise.

The organization also participated in the City of Charlotte’s Mayor’s Youth Employment Program, where selected high school students received training, then completed internships in the region, and its founders worked to launch a $100k fund for entrepreneurs to start and grow their business, the statement noted.

“The acquisition is special to us, we made a point to leave an impact that will last for our community,” said Freda Hendley, co-founder and community relations director of BLKTECHCLT, in a statement.  “We built the first black business and innovation library, housed at Sugar Creek Library, introduced hundreds in the community to unrealized tech access through tech talks and events, and over the past year we provided free virtual tech events and classes.”

“It is critical that the work continues, I believe it will, with City Startup Labs,” she noted.