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Business
Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

New Charlotte Investment Group Buys Second Minority-Owned Business

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Construction is big business in the Charlotte region, and Bright Hope Capital just bought a Gastonia trucking company called Big Prime Hauling.

A group formed last year for the sole purpose of investing in minority-owned Charlotte-area businesses has purchased another company. Bright Hope Capital bought trucking company Big Prime Hauling in Gastonia.

It’s the second purchase so far for Bright Hope, whose backers include former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl. For more, we turn to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Marshall Terry: Tony, what can you tell us about this trucking company, Big Prime Hauling?

Tony Mecia: That's a trucking company, Marshall, that was formed about a decade or so ago. It started off with one dump truck that the founder's father was the dump truck driver, the first one. It expanded over the years, have a handful of dump trucks for things involving construction, moving asphalt, going to quarries, picking up rocks, debris removal. They see opportunities for growth in that industry. Obviously, a lot of construction going on throughout the Carolinas.

Terry: And remind me, if you will, what this investment group, Bright Hope Capital is trying to achieve by buying these companies. As I mentioned, this is so far the second one they've purchased.

Mecia: Right. You might recall a few weeks ago this investment fund was announced that's backed by Hugh McColl, the former CEO of Bank of America, as well as a couple of well-known Black executives in Charlotte. And the purpose of it is they're pooling money, and they're going out and they're investing in minority-owned companies in the Charlotte region, because they say that a lot of these companies are kind of undercapitalized, that they have growth opportunities but maybe they don't have the expertise or they don't have the access to money that they would need to kind of make the most of those companies.

And they want to encourage minority entrepreneurs. This is their second purchase, Marshall. You might recall they bought R.J. Leeper Construction a few weeks ago. That was the one involving (Charlotte) City Councilman James Mitchell. He had to step down from the City Council because he was going to become head of that company. So, this is their second purchase, and they say they've got several more to go.

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Clay Banks
A co-owner of the Charlotte Hornets was caught up in the GameStop stock surge and lost big.

Terry: Tony, last week, Wall Street was on fire over the sudden surge in stock prices for the video game retailer GameStop. And as you dug into that story, you actually found a small connection to the Charlotte Hornets. How so?

Mecia: You know, it was a really fascinating national story with these individual investors pouring money into this sort of obscure and ailing stock and kind of sticking it to these hedge fund managers. That was sort of the idea behind it, I guess. One of those hedge fund managers that took huge losses happens to be a co-owner of the Charlotte Hornets (and) business partner of Hornets owner Michael Jordan. Gabe Plotkin is the founder of Melvin Capital.

His hedge fund was one of those that was betting that the stock price of GameStop would go down. And, of course, it went through the roof last week, so he lost a bunch of money. So, the question is, well, what does that do? Does that affect the Hornets at all? It doesn't really affect them day to day, but certainly one of the co-owners kind of taking it on the chin there.

You know, another interesting local angle that we came up with this week in the Ledger, Marshall, we had Jeremy Markovich, who's a writer for Our State magazine. He wrote a piece in which he looked at another big stock investment, a famous one in the Carolinas from Salisbury in 1957. Said a bunch of people put in money in Food Lion stock in 1957. A lot of them forgot about it, didn't know till the 1980s that they still had that stock, and it minted some instant millionaires. So, that was sort of an interesting little piece of North Carolina trivia that we explored this week.

Terry: Well, I want to stay in Salisbury for a second. Rowan County commissioners have approved incentives for an unknown company in the food service industry that would create 1,200 jobs. Now it's being referred to as Project Popcorn. Popcorn maker, perhaps?

Mecia: You know, Marshall, when they do these economic development deals, they keep a lot of the details kind of secret. They don't like to identify the company until all the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted. You know, usually, if you come up with a secret name like Project Popcorn, it shouldn't necessarily indicate — the whole point of having a secret name is to keep it secret. So, I don't know if Orville Redenbacher or what, but it's a food service company; 1,200 jobs. That's a lot of jobs. Still some negotiation, it sounds like.

Terry: Let's end on sports. You report this week there's some big news in particular for youth sports in Charlotte. What is it?

Mecia: Charlotte Soccer Academy, which is one of the biggest — probably the biggest — youth soccer organizations in Charlotte. It's got now a partnership — sort of a merger — with the YMCA to run the Y's soccer program. Charlotte Soccer Academy has been growing like gangbusters the last few years. Merged a few years ago with Charlotte United, which was another club. Now it's being contracted to take over the Y's soccer program. So it's thousands and thousands of youth soccer players. They're trying to develop kind of a funnel for future soccer talent from the Charlotte region. They formed a partnership with Tepper Sports to do some interesting things with the new pro soccer team, Charlotte FC. So, they're really establishing some dominance in youth soccer in the Charlotte region.

Mecia: All right, Tony, thank you.

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