SBA Graduates 2017 Emerging Leaders Class in Charlotte

Release Date: 
Friday, November 3, 2017
Mike Ernandes 704-344-6588

Charlotte, NC – For 12 Charlotte area small business owners, who were selected to participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program in April, the hard part is over.

After spending eight months and logging in a combination of 100 hours of work and evening class time, the North Carolina SBA is graduating its second class of Emerging Leaders.  The Charlotte Emerging Leaders class of 2017 participated in an intensive executive-level entrepreneurship training program for small business owners in over 50 cities and communities across the country. 

“We couldn’t be happier with the results of Emerging Leaders Class of 2017,” said SBA North Carolina District Director Lynn Douthett, who delivered remarks at a graduation ceremony on Wednesday evening at Central Piedmont Community College where the program took place.  “The caliber of each individual was evident through their commitment and willingness to improve their businesses.”

Dwayne Meekins, owner of Game Truck Charlotte is a 2017 graduate. Game Truck provides video game parties, laser tag, and other entertainment.

“Charlotte SBA Emerging Leaders has been a really wonderful and eye-opening experience for me, “said Dwayne.  “The opportunity to learn with and from other small business owners is invaluable.  In addition to learning from each other, we can hold each other accountable as well.” 

According to SBA’s North Carolina Program Manager of Emerging Leaders Eileen Joyce, participants had to have annual revenues of at least $400,000; have been in business for at least 3 years; and have at least one employee, other than self in order to participate in the program.

The 12 graduates, who participated in the program, came from Charlotte, Concord, Cornelius, Gastonia, Mooresville, Raleigh, and Rock Hill, SC.

“It has been an honor to have the opportunity to create an environment that facilitated learning and insights for a dynamic group of participants in the 2017 Charlotte Emerging Leaders Program,” said Brenda Anderson, Charlotte Emerging Leader instructor. “The 2017 graduates demonstrated commitment, collaboration and compassion  for each other’s growth and now are becoming a part of a network of business leaders poised to make a difference and an economic impact in the region!”

Since 2008, the Emerging Leaders initiative has trained over 4,000 promising small business owners in underserved communities, and continues to expand its impact of helping small businesses grow and create jobs. 

Local partners for Charlotte Emerging Leaders include Central Piedmont Community College, The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte SCORE, Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber, the City of Charlotte Business INClusion, Mecklenburg County MWSBE Program, NC Small Business & Technology Development Center, NC Institute of Minority Economic Development, the Latin American Economic Development Corporation, and the Carolinas Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council.

For additional information about the Emerging Leaders program, contact Eileen Joyce of the SBA North Carolina District Office at (704) 344-6787 or by e-mail at

Co-sponsorship Authorization # 17-0460-63 SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, and products for services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.

The following is a list of the executives and their companies who have graduated from the SBA’s 2017 Emerging Leaders training initiative:

Rob Bennett - My Aloha Paddle and Surf, Inc. - Cornelius

Tammara Combs - Serendipity Interactive - Mooresville

Bill Labbon - Kaicia, Inc. DBA Foreign Translations - Huntersville

Dwayne Meekins - GameTruck - Charlotte

Jefferson Ovalle - Genesis Construction of the Carolinas - Charlotte

Willo Smith - JSL, LLC - Charlotte

Anita Staton - Miles Freight Solutions, LLC - Charlotte

Tracy Thornton - Computer Data Services, LLC - Charlotte

Curt Vanderhorst - Vanderhorst Enterprises, Inc. - Raleigh

Benjamin Visser - Social Design House - Charlotte

Brenda White - Art by Me - Concord

Jonathan Wilson - Design Tech - Gastonia

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