North Carolina

Community Lead

Janet LaBar

President and CEO at Charlotte Regional Business Alliance 

Get Involved

Have questions about how you can help? Click below to contact us.

Lead Community Organization

The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance®

The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance® (CLT Alliance) is the voice of business representing the city of Charlotte and the 15-county bi-state Charlotte Region. Formed in 2018 through the merger of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Charlotte Regional Partnership, today’s CLT Alliance is built on a long-standing history of creating long-term growth and a vibrant economy for all in the Charlotte Region. The CLT Alliance enthusiastically collaborates to promote and advance the Charlotte Region, creating opportunity, economic growth and prosperity for all.

The CLT Alliance is a regional economic development organization that:

  1. Grows the economy through business recruitment, marketing and lead generation
  2. Advocates for business so organizations in the Charlotte region can thrive
  3. Convenes diverse stakeholders to solve difficult challenges.
An image of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance's logo

Charlotte Community Lead

Headshot of Janet LaBar, President and CEO at Charlotte Regional Business Alliance®.

Janet LaBar

President and CEO at Charlotte Regional Business Alliance 

Janet LaBar is leading CLT Alliance in a direction to ensure the Charlotte region is the most vibrant, innovative and healthy economy in the nation. The CLT Alliance is advancing the Charlotte region by creating opportunity, economic growth and prosperity for all.

History of Charlotte, North Carolina

Known as the Queen City, the city of Charlotte has a rich and complex place in fabric of America’s history. Following the revolutionary  war of 1775—1783, Charlotte became an epicenter for gold mining, cotton processing and a railroad hub. The history of racial injustice in Charlotte has been very tumultuous and abounds with well-documented systemic wrongdoings. In the 20th century, school desegregation, accelerated by national landmarks like the Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case, significantly increased educational and occupational achievements, college quality, and adults earnings in the Black community. Today the city is still highly segregated with pernicious levels of racial inequality.

Image of a park in Charlotte, NC with a purple wall lit up at night

Racial Inequities in Charlotte

Black people make up 23% of the population but Black businesses only represent approximately 4% of businesses and approximately 2% of revenues
MBE Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity
To start or scale businesses, Black entrepreneurs often cite access to capital as one of their greatest challenges
Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)
Black people are about 1.4 times less likely as white people to hold a college degree and Black and Brown professionals only represent 10% of executives
Education/HBCU and Workforce Development
About 10% of all Charlotte households are without internet access
Digital Access
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Racial Equity Priorities

Click to explore a priority in detail.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity

Access to Capital (CDFIs/MDI)

HBCU and Workforce Development

Digital Access

Community Snapshot

Explore the dashboard to view demographic stats and key racial equity metrics.

Success Stories for Charlotte

$250M Racial Equity initiative announced to address racial inequities, boost opportunity in Charlotte

The “Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative” looks to invest $250 million to address inequities and remove barriers to opportunity through four key workstreams:

  • Bridging the digital divide and establishing a Center for Digital Equity
  • Investing in Charlotte’s six “Corridors of Opportunity” neighborhoods
  • Transforming JCSU into a top-tier, career-focused HBCU
  • Ensuring organizations commit to racial equity through advancing more Black and Brown leaders within their individual corporations.

Join Us and Get Involved!

If you are interested in partnering with Southern Communities Initiative or wish to volunteer your time, we invite you to explore the different ways you can engage.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity

Creating and Scaling Black-owned Businesses

Southern Communities Initiative focuses on increasing the number and value of MBEs in the region. Southern Communities Initiative specifically aims at raising the economic weight of Black-owned businesses from 2% to 6% of the aggregated value of all businesses in the region.  

Additionally, small businesses in primarily Black communities tend to have lower profit margins and concentrate in industries with less potential for growth.

Black entrepreneurs often face many barriers, including a lack of access to capital, technical assistance, procurement opportunities and more.

Creating and scaling a greater number of Black-owned businesses is crucial to generating employment opportunities for people of color and increasing wealth in the community and economy.

A Black barber adjusts a smock on a young Black boy sitting in a barber chair.


Offer In-Kind FTEs for Supplier Diversity:

Offer 2-5 FTEs to Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA) over 5 years to convene corporate partners, assess their MBE spend, develop pipeline to increase MBE spend to 5-10%+.

Offer Technical Assistance Expertise:

Partner with CRBA to advise/mentor ~200 MBEs on capital/loan access to help them scale from <$10M to $50M+.

Commit to Supplier Diversity:

Increase MBE spend to 5-10%+.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): 3X Increase in MBE Value and ~13K New Jobs, Boosting Black Community’s Net Worth by ~$2B+.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Digital Access

Increasing Access, Affordability and Adoption to Broadband

Digital access is vital for any community to thrive in today’s world. Southern Communities Initiative’s ambition is to increase access to high-speed internet and its affordability for underserved communities. Currently 10% of households in the Charlotte area are without Internet access.

An African American man sits beside a young Black boy while sitting at a table and doing schoolwork.


Support Center for Digital Equity – $25M:

Secure $25M over 4 years for Center for Digital Equity’s longitudinal project on digital access to enhance health efficacy and agency in the health experience lifecycle.

Raise Community Awareness and Adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit:

Increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households.

Drive Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Adoption:

Secure $1-3M (donations or in kind) to drive door to door and community outreach in low income focus zip codes to get ~12K households onto Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) subsidies in Charlotte.

Provide Digital Access and Technical Assistance for Charlotte Households:

Provide 20K laptops, internet subs and broadband for ~35K households + grant writing support and internet adoption centers.

Support Efforts to Increase Digital Access:

Secure $2.2M for ~4K routers, switches and internet backhaul connections for ~80 bldgs.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): ~35K Households Get Connected to High-Speed Internet to Unlock ~$700M in Economic Potential for Charlotte.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

HBCU and Workforce Development

Increasing Bachelors Degrees and Reducing Student Debt

Increasing education quality and minority representation in top job positions can have a positive effect on communities. Southern Communities Initiative aims at increasing Black empowerment and representation in the workforce. In Charlotte, Southern Communities Initiative supports the Mayor’s plan to make of JCSU a top 10 university in the US. Southern Communities Initiative is also planning to help increase the percentage of Black Charlotteans owning college degrees to 59%, and improve the representation of Black/Brown in executive positions to 30%.

Many of those who do graduate from HBCUs, where students are 1.4 times more likely than non-HBCU students to take out student loans and borrow 20% more on average.

Studies have found that taking on student debt can negatively affect academic performance, graduation rates and long-term wealth accumulation.

That is why it is critical to address issues in both enrollment and student loan debt, thus allowing students and graduates to access high-paying job opportunities and build their wealth.

A young African American man smiles while wearing a black graduation cap and gown.


Fund Student Freedom Initiative Program:

$10M to HELPS program and support ~1.5K+ students per year at 3 HBCUs with emergency expenses – e.g., health.

Provide In-Kind Staff:

Offer 2-5 FTEs to Charlotte Regional Business Alliance over 5 years to track and help increase Black-/Brown-exec representation from 10% to 30%+.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): 2.5K+ Additional College Graduates and 2.5K Workers With High-Paying Wages to Drive ~$0.2B in Economic Growth.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Access to Capital (CDFIs/MDI)

Modernizing and Building Capacity for Local CDFIs & MDIs

In Charlotte, 40 percent of Black households are unbanked or underbanked.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) are often viewed as the backbone of community lending and offer favorable terms for low-to-moderate income communities.

However, in order to scale their operations and economic impact, corporations and foundations have a key role in addressing common challenges for CDFIs and MDIs:

  • Outdated systems and technology infrastructure 
  • A lack of talent and workforce development tools
  • Other barriers to enhancing their capacity

Ensuring access to capital for individuals and businesses can spur economic growth and set a strong foundation for wealth accumulation.

An African American woman puts a check into an envelope.