Durham, N.C. — African-Americans contribute about $44 billion to North Carolina's economy.
A study, "The Economic Impact of the African-American Population on the State of North Carolina," by University of North Carolina researchers showed the number of black-owned businesses in the state grew by more than 30 percent over the last 10 years.
Black-owned businesses are a staple on Durham's Parrish Street. Across the state, they account for more than 85,000 jobs.
“It says to our children, we can and we should own businesses to serve our community and the community in general,” Nana Nantambu said.
Nantambu decided to buy her coffee at Durham's Blue Coffee cafe when she found out it was owned by an African-American woman.
“So, it was wow! I'd love to give my money here,” Nantambu said.
Gwen Matthews opened the cafe two years ago. It has become one of downtown Durham's hot-spots.
“I feel that with the amount of money we spend in the economy that we should also give back to ourselves,” Matthews said.
For Matthews, that meant becoming one of the more than 53,000 African-American business owners in the state.
Researchers believe to expand that success, business owners must think globally. For now, Matthews is growing her business by giving to the local community. She also believes if other African-Americans see her success with Blue Coffee, they might be inspired to open their own business.
The study, released Tuesday, pointed out that in order to increase the number of black-owned business, the state would be well served to spend more money on education. Most of the low-performing schools in N.C. have a majority of African-American students.