It came as no surprise to Chris Moxley when Charlotte was named in 2020 one of the best cities in the U.S. for starting a business. The co-founder of 704 Shop, a lifestyle and apparel brand, could have launched his new venture anywhere in the 704 area code, which covers most of the Charlotte Region. But he chose the heart of the region as his home base and a motto that would resonate from Statesvill­e to Shelby to Salisbury: “Stay close to home.”

“The whole premise behind 704 Shop is the attractive­ness of our entire region,” Moxley said. “The idea is, no matter where you are in the world, if you have roots in Charlotte, you can stay close to home through our brand. We’re one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, with new residents arriving every day from some of the best cities in the world. But regardless of where you are located, our brand is designed to help everyone stay connected.”

Expanding Access To Capital

Several factors work in Charlotte’s favor as an emerging place for startups such as 704 Shop, including the availabili­ty of early-stage funding and job growth that beats national growth in nearly every sector. For Moxley, Charlotte is also an attractive place to launch a new business because of programs designed to expand access to capital.

“We’ve got to put resources at the fingertips of businesses, and when I say resources, what I’m referring to is capital,” he said. “It takes capital to be able to start a business. Most businesses bootstrap with next to no outside cash, and I think that has a lot to do with why businesses have such a hard time scaling. It’s very difficult to get capital from traditiona­l sources if you’re a small business. If we could put more capital at the ready for small businesses, I think that’s the key to their success and to the success of the Charlotte Region.”

Programmin­g, Mentorship, Guidance

In Charlotte, AMP Up is a business-growth education program that helps smallbusin­ess owners increase their revenues, create jobs and positively affect their community. A hallmark of the successful program, now in its fourth year, is helping small-business owners gain access to the resources they need for growth. Eligibilit­y requiremen­ts emphasize ethnic minority business owners with 51% or greater ownership of the business.

“If you’re going to provide businesses with capital, or at least make capital easier to access, you have to realize that simple access to capital is not going to be enough,” Moxley said. “You also need programmin­g and mentorship and guidance. Fortunatel­y for Charlotte, programs like AMP Up are just the kind of small-business accelerato­r programs that minority business owners need to succeed. We must make capitalism more inclusive over the long term, and Charlotte is on the leading edge of doing just that.”

Chris Moxley is co-founder of 704 Shop, a lifestyle and apparel brand based in Charlotte. 704 Shop is an investor in the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, which collaborat­es to promote and advance regional economic developmen­t in the 15-county Charlotte Region. To find out why the Charlotte Region is an attractive incubator for startups or to learn more about business relocation and expansion opportunit­ies in the region, visit charlotter­

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