heartbeat of cabarrus tour
Anna from Allegiance Coffee
Allegiance Coffee in Jackson Park has become one of my favorite locations for meetings and casual conversations in Concord. I was immediately impressed with their variety of gluten-free and vegan pastry options, and the coffee is always delicious.
Although Allegiance Coffee is a franchise, the owner, Anna, had a passion for supporting individuals with special needs from her time as an exceptional children’s (EC) teacher. Discouraged from the atmosphere around education, Anna moved into the coffee business, but kept her passion alive by incorporating a personal mission for employing special needs workers at the Jackson Park branch. Since then, Allegiance Coffee has adopted this mission across the board.
Eli and LaMor from Eli’s Lemonade
Eli’s Lemonade was without a doubt one of the most incredible conversations I had. I was immensely impressed by Eli's passion and leadership. What made this interview most inspiring was the fact that Eli is 11 years old and attends one of our very own schools in Cabarrus County. Eli has aspirations to partner with local businesses in Cabarrus County and some day start a franchise.
While Eli is the face of the brand, his Dad, LaMor Leech, has been an integral part of its success. LaMor is hopeful that other children in our community find encouragement in Eli's humble beginnings. He says that kids should aspire to be young entrepreneurs, and we in the community should encourage them.
Propst Brothers Inc.
Trent Propst is a local business owner and native of Cabarrus County. I quickly noticed in my conversation with him how much genuine care he had for the wellbeing of our community. Even though I was meeting him to hear about his business, his sense of responsibility seemed just as founded in being a good citizen and neighbor than it did being an entrepreneur in Concord. I also enjoyed meeting his Jellyfish, which I would like to note were bought from a business right here in Cabarrus.
One of the first statements Trent made was regarding the attacks on the capital, saying, “January 6th slapped me in the face! I was disenchanted with what a part of our country engaged in.” This sparked a long conversation about the need to protect democracy at every level of government and re-engage our community with constructive dialogue that can inform policy making. I appreciated Trent's willingness to give his perspective and share what concerned him most in this upcoming election.
Jessica at Nero Nails
Jessica, a Concord native, has been in the nail technician business for eight years. She has a vested interest in Cabarrus County because most of her family calls it home. Jessica says she enjoys doing business in Cabarrus because it's a growing community. She is concerned, however, that small businesses often cannot afford memberships offered by the local Chamber of Commerce, and are thus disadvantaged in the local market. She feels the resources for running a successful business in Cabarrus County should be available to all businesses because the entire community will benefit from strong small businesses. Jessica suggested that, as a state senator, I can help small businesses reach their goals by helping them get more access to credit revenue and lower insurance premiums.
Michelle at Big Tomato Marketing
I was so blessed to encounter Michelle at a Church service I attended after meeting a pastor on my listening tour. Michelle told me she felt called to speak to me about her experience, and I too was eager to learn from another small business owner in the county. Michelle told me about how she was laid off from her job due to Covid, but how she resiliently bounced back by setting up Big Tomato.
Michelle told me about how much she loves living in Concord, but that she has trouble doing business with clients in the county. She told me how helpful it would be for her business to be featured in a local catalog that promotes small businesses to citizens in the community. In addition to her suggestions for improving the business climate in Cabarrus, Michelle explained her concern for the growing homeless population, acknowledging that a lack of service and resources were likely compounding the problem.
Kat with Sol Harmony
Kat started her business in November of 2020–in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Kat enjoys doing business in Cabarrus because of the family environment it offers in the common spaces, such as our fantastic libraries and parks.
Kat explained that even though she likes doing business in Cabarrus and feels the county is supportive, it can be hard to find support when your work is non-traditional. She feels that, especially during times of hardship, there isn’t the necessary support for social and cultural businesses like the arts. But in hard times, the arts are vitally important because they can bring people together. Kat invited me to attend the Fulltime Funky Town fundraiser hosted by Southern Strain Brewery and a Glowga-yoga event to get a better sense of the arts communities are like in our county, both of which I attended.
Lashanna at The Wax Idol Lounge
In my quest to find a local wax specialist, I met Lashanna, a young entrepreneur running a Black-owned business called the The Wax Idol Lounge. Lashanna recently relocated to Concord in October 2021. She still owns a business in Chicago but wants to completely transition to Cabarrus County. So far, she has been unable to do so until her business picks up. She doesn't have enough customers in Cabarrus just yet, but she is enjoying the challenge. Lashanna likes doing business in Cabarrus County because it challenges her to get out and meet people within the community and to learn from her neighbors. She feels the county could aid in the growth and support of small businesses by creating affordable networking events for businesses to learn and grow.
After speaking with the local small businesses above I have learned:
Small businesses need community support, especially in tough economic times.
Residents rely on small businesses to give our community its small-town, tight-knit feel, even as we enjoy critical growth and development.
Most small businesses incorporate elements of social responsibility into their mission, providing key functions for our community outside of profit-making.
Small businesses are taxed too much and expected to comply with complicated legal requirements that only large corporations can manage (because they hire expensive lawyers)
Small businesses are not massive corporations, and the entrepreneurs who start them are working- and middle- class Americans who need a break, not another tax or regulation.
Rising fixed costs, like taxes, insurance and inflation, are incredibly damaging to small businesses, and sound economic policies must be used to reign in these costs.