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CIAA commissioner to Charlotte business owners: Let’s work together

During the Breakfast Conversations at CIAA event on Tuesday, local business owners learned of opportunities to work with the association as it moves its headquarters from Virginia to Charlotte this summer.
During the Breakfast Conversations at CIAA event on Tuesday, local business owners learned of opportunities to work with the association as it moves its headquarters from Virginia to Charlotte this summer. JONATHAN MCFADDEN

When the CIAA athletic conference moves its headquarters from Virginia to Charlotte this year, its commissioner, Jacqie McWilliams, wants to rely on a “core community of business” to aid its move to the Queen City.

That means calling on the services of local minority-owned and small businesses – from IT experts that can help get the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association connected in a new building, to firms specializing in making championship awards.

“The more we have an opportunity to work with … minority and women-owned companies and identify how we can work together, I think the better and stronger we will be as a community,” McWilliams said Tuesday morning after speaking to a crowd of more than 100 entrepreneurs and business owners at the Extravaganza Depot north of uptown.

That doesn’t mean every small business will get a slice of the CIAA pie. McWilliams implored business owners to first “do their homework” to find out if their business model fits the CIAA’s.

“At the end of the day, we’re an intercollegiate athletic association, we serve over 3,000 student athletes, we have 16 championships,” she said. “Not everybody fits into your platform.”

During the Breakfast Conversations at CIAA event, McWilliams touted the basketball tournament’s economic value. Last year, the tournament had a $40 million economic impact on North Carolina, she said.

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority is giving the CIAA $100,000 for moving expenses and part of its rent when the conference moves to Charlotte this summer. McWilliams said Tuesday she hopes to relocate from Hampton, Va., by Aug. 1.

“There’s a lot of impact that’s going to be made here in the next five days,” she said, speaking about the rest of the tournament this week. “But, after that, we want to be able to do that with you all.”

Antriece Mitchell, whose company Heirs of Legends Media organized the event, said she wanted to create “pockets of synergy” between local entrepreneurs and the CIAA. While McWilliams said many of the CIAA’s outsourcing needs have yet to be determined, she threw out a few suggestions.

“We’ll always use catering services … banking services, all the things that you run your businesses (with) … we need that, too,” she said.

McFadden: 704-358-6045; Twitter: @JmcfaddenObsBiz

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