LIVE WEB EVENT “Unmasked: Will Black Businesses Survive the Virus?”

LIVE WEB EVENT “Unmasked: Will Black Businesses Survive the Virus?”

by April 27, 2020

Join us again for this installation of the Unmasked series as we focus on the battle Black businesses currently face.

In 2018, Black Enterprise published an article stating that 80% of Black-owned businesses face one common issue: access to capital. When faced with this challenge, how will these businesses sustain themselves during a pandemic?

In this conversation moderated by Glenn Burkins, Founder and Publisher of Qcitymetro, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles joins a panel of Black business owners. These entrepreneurs will share their unique perspectives and how they plan to remain viable.

This episode will be streamed via the Gantt Center’s YouTube live channel at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 28. Audience members can join the chat throughout the evening with relevant questions for the moderator and panelists.

To bolster and further add to the conversation, please complete a 2-minute audience survey here.

Gantt Center's YouTube channel

Viewing this program is free and open to the public. To chat during the program and contribute your perspective to the conversation, please create a YouTube account with a Gmail email address prior to the program. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial on creating a YouTube account.

  • About The Panelists

    Chef Andarrio Johnson
    Cuzzo’s Cuisine Owner

    Andarrio JohnsonAndarrio Johnson is the owner & founder of A.M.J. Catering, Cuzzo’s Cuisine Food Truck & Cuzzo’s Cuisine Brick & Mortor. Andarrio Johnson is a South Carolina native, born Hampton County & raised in Hilton Head Island. As a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, a prestigious hospitality and culinary institution, Chef Andarrio specializes in Southern and French cuisines.

    Chef Andarrio moved to Charlotte, NC late 2011. While working for another restaurant Chef decided to start his own Food Truck and started his own mobile business. In June 2014, he took the leap of faith and Cuzzo’s Cuisine Food Truck was born and they hit the streets of Charlotte. Chef and his 1st cousin started Cuzzo’s Cuisine, LLC and November 2016 Cuzzo’s Cuisine Brick & Mortor was create. Chef always wanted his own food truck and restaurant. Today, Cuzzo’s Cuisie name is a well-known name in the Charlotte and surrounding areas. It’s a true honor for Chef to be able to do what he loves which is making people feel good through food. Chef also has his own beverage company Kumelon.

    When wholesome cuisines are prepared by Chef Andarrio you feel and taste the passion he puts into each dish. A few of Chef Andarrio’s specialty dishes include Shrimp & Grits, Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Collard Greens. Chef Andarrio serves Charlotte NC, Columbia SC, and other surrounding areas.

    Kia Lyons
    Pop Bar Owner

    Kia LyonsKia Lyons is the primary owner of Charlotte’s first Popbar franchise- a gelato, sorbet, and yogurt pop shop. With plans to open 2-3 locations in the Queen City, the first location opened in December of 2016 in NoDa.

    Prior to starting this venture, Kia spent 10 years in clinical research focusing in Ophthalmology. During that time her research on macular degeneration was published in a scientific journal. Lyons is a graduate of The University of Alabama with a BS in business management and a minor in biology.

    A native of Birmingham, AL, Kia is married to Clarence Lyons and they have one daughter. Kia enjoys giving back to the Charlotte community. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an a member of the giving circle the New Generation of African American Philanthropist, and has served as Board Chair of the African American Community Foundation.

    Vi Alexander Lyles
    Mayor, Charlotte

    Vi Alexander LylesVi Alexander Lyles, a Democrat, is now in her second term as Mayor of Charlotte. Under Mayor Lyles’ direction, Charlotte continues to lead the nation in community engagement and action to address affordable housing. The City of Charlotte committed $50 million to these efforts via a bond that was approved by the community in 2018. In addition, private funds have contributed more than $50 million to affordable housing. The city has turned these commitments into investments in mixed-income housing, providing housing options for more than 5,000 families.

    Job growth has flourished under Mayor Lyles’ leadership, with the creation of more than 27,000 new jobs. Among its recent accolades, Charlotte is the #1 fastest-growing TechTown in the U.S., a top 10 rising city for startups, and the #1 city in America for growth in female-owned businesses. For Mayor Lyles, job creation is an important economic growth indicator, but workforce development is her personal passion. She is a champion for those who face barriers to employment, helping them develop their skills and talents, and ensuring that the city is committed to opportunities for all.

    Mayor Lyles holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Queens University, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a trained facilitator and executive coach, completing programs at the Institute of Government, North Carolina State University and the Lee Institute’s American Leadership Forum.

    DeAlva Wilson
    CEO D. Wilson Agency and CLT COVID Recovery Task Force

    DeAlva WilsonDeAlva Wilson is a management consultant who produces results-driven strategies for organizations, communities and major brands. As the CEO of D. Wilson Agency, she continues to leverage a 20+ year career in corporate leadership for Fortune 100s, building an agency that helps organizations and executives reach new heights of influence, performance and profitability.

    DeAlva is active and committed to helping small businesses navigate the COVID-19 environment. As Chair of the Charlotte Business Advisory Committee, she led efforts to influence policy at local and state levels that assist small businesses. She was recently appointed to the Charlotte COVID Recovery Task Force for Small Business working with city council and other community leaders on the municipality’s pandemic response.

    As a result of their success and national relationships, the D. Wilson Agency was selected to combat the Coronavirus through sourcing PPE, certified ventilators, proprietary grant compliance and financial recovery programs through strategic partnerships. DeAlva is also engaged in the community as a Board Member of Freedom Communities, the Advisory Board for Dress for Success and was appointed by Governor Cooper to the NC Capital Finance Facilities Board. In her downtime she enjoys family, traveling, yoga, meditation, and cooking.

    Damian Johnson
    No Grease! Co-Founder

    Damian JohnsonDamian Johnson, co-created, founded and launched No Grease! Inc. with his twin brother Jermaine. in June 1997. No Grease, Inc. is a company dedicated to the hair and other personal care business. The company’s mission is to provide consumers with the opportunity to have multiple grooming needs met in one location with unequaled quality and fast service.

    Later, the twin brothers would be joined with Charlie Petty and other like minds in the industry. Together they would grow No Grease, Inc. into one of the leading brands in men, women, and children’s personal hair grooming services in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The company has evolved into a popular, profitable, and talent stable chain of full service barber parlor operations and it also operates a barber school.



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