How one Raleigh resident is creating opportunities for Black-owned businesses in North Carolina

Johnny Hackett Jr. in front of statues
Johnny Hackett Jr.

  • Johnny Hackett Jr. is the founder of The Black Dollar Corp., a retail location and online directory.
  • The directory gives Black entrepreneurs opportunities to gain exposure and customers.
  • Hackett also runs Black Friday Market, which has 90 Black-owned vendors and hosts community events.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

Johnny Hackett Jr. appreciates being a part of the entrepreneurship community in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In 2019, he started The Black Dollar Corp. to support Black-owned businesses in the state through a retail location and online directory.

“We’re trying to give a platform for African American entrepreneurs to be found, to get more exposure, to get more customers,” Hackett, 37, told Insider.

Hackett, who was recently named one of the Triangle Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” said he often partners with the city to spread the word about programs and initiatives.

“So many different opportunities exist here in Raleigh,” he said. “It’s just a place where an entrepreneur can come and get off the ground running. There’s a lot of community support and there are a lot of folks who are invested in making sure that upstart companies do have a chance here.”

Hackett moved to Raleigh just before he started high school and later attended North Carolina A&T State University. His background is in information technology, and he’s worked for Xerox, IBM, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

He first got into entrepreneurship in 2009 when he founded the nonprofit Life Foundation to educate teens about taxes, credit, health insurance, and other life skills.

“I felt like I wasn’t utilizing my strengths to the best of my ability for the community,” Hackett said. “I started to see how many businesses and organizations didn’t have the tools that they needed to either gain access to funding or open certain doors.”

So he started building websites for business owners – and that paved the way for a directory.

Becoming Raleigh’s official Black-owned business directory

The goal of #BlackDollarNC, which features an interactive map, is to increase visibility for North Carolina-based, Black-owned businesses. Owners can add themselves to the directory for free, and it now lists about 1,100 companies. Each day, about 500 people visit the site, Hackett said.

Raleigh’s Office of Economic Development and Innovation engaged Black Dollar Corp. to expand reach, and thus #BlackDollarNC became the official Black-owned business directory of Raleigh. Hackett’s main goals are adding more businesses, turning the directory into a social channel, and expanding to other parts of the US.

Retail space gives entrepreneurs a place to sell goods

Black Dollar Corp.’s newest initiative is Black Friday Market, a department store located in downtown Raleigh where Black-owned businesses without retail space can sell their products. The store opened in December and features more than 90 companies selling clothing, beauty products, artwork, and food items. The market also hosts events.

Companies pay a fee to sell their products in the store and keep 100% of the sales, Hackett said. The store has been a hit so far, he added, and he plans to open more locations in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Hosting events engages the community

Street festivals that feature kids’ activities, musical performances, and food give businesses the opportunity to sell their products. Hackett said they saw a large turnout for their May and June events and is expecting a similar outcome for July’s.

This spring, they also hosted a scavenger hunt. Residents could earn points for posting on social media, attending events, signing up for newsletters from the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, and collecting stickers from locations for a chance to win $5,000 – but the money must be reinvested in a Black-owned company.

“It’s just awesome meeting these folks and talking to them, understanding what their talents are, and then trying to support them as best we can,” Hackett said.

Read the original article on Business Insider