The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association is known for bringing together upwardly mobile blacks from different generations for many social and civic engagements. People often forget the major economic impact that the tournament has on its host city, Charlotte, N.C., and black businesses. Sommer Brokaw of the Charlotte Post reports that black entrepreneurs are benefiting from the tournament, especially those involved in travel and entertainment:
According to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority's research, the tournament accounted for $24 million in direct spending last year, a total economic impact of more than $37 million in a one-week period in 2010. Anthony Lindsey, a board member [of] CRVA and head of [the] CIAA local organizing committee, said during a press conference that this economic impact is up from $15 million when Charlotte became the host city in 2006. He added that it has also had a tremendous impact on job creation, with North Carolina Employment Security Commission figures showing growth in the leisure and hospitality industry.
The article highlights various entrepreneurs, including Marvin Wilson, the owner of an upscale travel and entertainment agency; James Bazelle, executive chef and owner of Mert's Heart and Soul, a healthy soul food restaurant; and Juanita Walton, co-owner of Oasis Day Spa and a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, a CIAA school. They all say that the tournament gives them an economic boost and some of their best earnings during the year.
The CIAA draws alumni this year from its 13 member schools — 12 of them historically black colleges — from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Thousands of others with no ties to the schools or league will also be in Charlotte, which is contracted to host the tournament through 2014.
CIAA is more than a big party for college students and black graduates of HBCUs — it contributes to the economic bottom line of the city and its businesses, including those that are black-owned. That is not a game.
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