CHARLOTTE — Mayor Anthony Foxx will attend a meeting with business owners in the Queen City’s LGBT community next week. Organizers of the meeting say Foxx’s willingness to sit down with minority business owners showcases his continued support for LGBT equality and for local job growth.
“The biggest problems in Charlotte and the rest of the country are jobs,” says Roberta Dunn, who helped to organize the mayor’s appearance. “Mayor Foxx is very proud of his numbers in job creation and wants to make sure every segment of Charlotte is getting the help they need to create jobs and help business.”
Foxx faces reelection in November. His campaign has reached out to include several LGBT community members and brought them on in a semi-formal, citizens’ advisory role. Dunn, one of several of the citizen advisors, says it is important for the city to recognize the central place small businesses, including those owned by minorities, have in creating and sustaining jobs.
“Most jobs are around for small businesses,” she says. “Mayor Foxx is making sure all segments, not just the LGBT community, but all all minorities, aren’t being overlooked by the big banks and other large industries in Charlotte and are getting their fair share of help from the city in creating jobs.”
Tom Groonell, another LGBT campaign advisor, credits the mayor for his initial outreach to the community. He says the campaign initially proposed the idea for the meeting with LGBT business owners.
“I’m glad he’s reaching out now,” Groonell says. “The LGBT community is going to be critical during the campaign. You have to address the LGBT community and its small business owners given the job situation.”
Foxx has placed job creation high on his campaign’s list of priorities as the city and state continue to face difficulties caused by the nation’s economic collapse in 2008. Foxx has stressed positive, local job growth. According to the Charlotte Chamber, more than 14,000 new jobs in the city have been announced since Foxx took office in December 2009. Yet, Mecklenburg County’s unemployment rate remains high. State officials placed it at 11.1 percent in July, higher than both the state and national averages. North Carolina’s July unemployment rate was 10.1 percent. Nationally, the rate was 9.1 percent.
“Given that unemployment, every group needs to be identified and have their message heard,” Groonell adds.
Foxx has been an ardent supporter of the LGBT community, Dunn and Groonell say. Soon after his election, the mayor met with the LGBT community and has reached out in various ways since.
“It’s the first time that a Charlotte mayor has actually acknowledged the LGBT community and has started understanding its importance here,” Groonell says. “The fact that he is devoting campaign time to our community shows he understands that importance.”
Business representatives at the Foxx meeting will include owners and employees from the medical, retail, legal and financial services industries. The meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, 6:30-8 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, 820 Hamilton St., Suite B11.