Black-owned businesses and The Diamond | Richmond Free Press


Richmond has long been home to thriving black businesses, and it’s exciting to know that the future looks bright for several such businesses that have been tapped to help develop the new Diamond District on the city’s north side.

Indeed, Richmond-born tennis legend Arthur Ashe, for whom Arthur Ashe Boulevard is named and where the Diamond District is to be built, would be pleased to see the forthcoming series of black-owned businesses that will help Driving development and growth on 67 acres in his hometown and just a few miles from where he grew up.

After ending his tennis career and before his untimely death in 1993, Mr. Ashe embarked on a solid business career of his own, which included positions as a commentator for HBO Sports and ABC Sports, a columnist for the Washington Post and Tennis Magazine, the publication a three-volume work, A Hard Road To Glory; a stint as captain of the US Davis Cup team; and founding of numerous non-profit organizations including the National Junior Tennis League, the ABC Cities Tennis Program, the Athlete-Career Connection, and the Safe Passage Foundation.

“An important key to success is self-confidence,” Ashe is quoted as saying. “An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

Mr. Ashe’s extrajudicial legacy should not only be cherished but studied by the Black business owners and women eager to continue carving their fortunes in the myriad opportunities the upcoming Diamond District offers.

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Last week in the Richmond Free Press, reporter Jeremy M. Lazarus revealed plans for the $2.4 billion mixed-use project, which will include a new ballpark. The project is spearheaded by RVA Diamond Partners, whose members are 45 percent black owned.

The largest company owned by blacks is Loop Capital, which has acquired a 45 percent stake in the development, according to the partnership, of which Republic Properties Corp is a major member. of Washington, DC and Thalhimer Realty Partners of Henrico County is part of a commercial real estate juggernaut, the Cushman & Wakefield Alliance.

Loop Capital is a 25-year-old Chicago-based investment bank founded by its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Reynolds Jr.

The companies are excited for the launch and expect the project to ramp up next week. Despite a lack of financial details, seven city council members have already committed to passing a resolution supporting the city’s selection of the development team and paving the way for a final agreement. The council is expected to vote on its support on Monday 26 September.

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Today, the RVA Diamond Partners team has seven black-owned companies or individuals in the Richmond area.

These include Michael A. “Mike” Hopkins and his development division, M Companies, and his construction company, Enterprise Construction of Richmond; contractor Kenneth Jones’ Prestige Construction Group Inc. of Chesterfield County; Grace Washington’s J&G Workforce Development Services LLC; and the black muralist Sir James Thornhill.

Also on the list are Robert L. Easter’s city-based Kei Architecture, who is part of the design team, and the Richmond Black Restaurant Experience, the creation of three women, Kelli Lemon, Shemicia Bowen and Amy Wentz, who will be involved in the operation a food hall on site.

The list also includes Ervin B. Clarke, founding editor of Urban Views Weekly and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Central Virginia African American Chamber of Commerce, who is said to be a minority business coordinator.

The Southside Community Development and Housing Corp. based in Hull Street is to participate.

Other Black-owned businesses include the Robert Bobb Group, a Washington, DC-based public and private business consulting firm headed by former Richmond City executive Robert C. Bobb; and Capstone Development, a hotel, residential and mixed-use development company based in Chevy Chase, Md., led by its founder and President, Norman K. Jenkins.

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Additionally, NixDevCo, a Prince George’s County, Md.-based real estate development and consulting group led by founder Raymond Nix, is among the Black-owned companies, as is Certaind by Design, a Washington, DC-based interior design firm under the Led by founder Kia Weatherspoon.

The partnership has also committed to working with Virginia Union University to launch its hotel and hospitality education program. And the group wants to work with Richmond Public Schools to develop a construction training center in a former tobacco factory on Maury Street in the South Side, which Altria donated to the school system. Representatives said the partnership is willing to invest $40 million to make it happen.

RVA Diamond Partners spokesman Jay Smith of Capital Results, the team’s public relations firm, said the list is expected to expand over time.

A list of potential black and minority-owned construction companies has been compiled, he said, with the expectation that some will be awarded contracts and subcontracts when development begins.

Congratulations and all the best to the black owned businesses ready to make their mark on Richmond’s future.

Or, as Arthur Ashe or any legendary athlete would say, “Game on.”





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