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ASHEBORO, N.C. — Out of 100 North Carolina counties, Randolph County ranks 95th when it comes to new business startups. And when a new business opens, very few are owned by people of color. In fact, less than 6 percent of small businesses in Randolph County are owned by people of color.

Dr. Jonathan Thill is the founder of VentureAsheboro. He wants to use his small business coaching skills to build more minority-owned businesses in the county.

“We are struggling as a community to develop that small business community and what better way to do that than to provide access and resources to a community that hadn’t had it before,” Thill said.

Thill created a partnership between Midstate Rotary, VentureAsheboro, and Randolph Community College. Thill calls the effort the Black Business Accelerator. The accelerator is a free six-week program that teaches potential business owners how to build a successful business. People can take classes at VentureAsheboro, online, or at Randolph Community College. Elbert Lassiter is the vice president of workforce development at Randolph Community College.

“We teach how to do market research, develop a business plan, connecting them with small business loans,” Lassiter said. “I think we can play an instrumental role in guiding a person from an idea to a successful business.”

Marcus Lowery is a Black Business Accelerator participant.

“Basically giving me guidance on what I need to do as far as starting at ground level and broadening into different areas,” Lowery said.

After the six-week class, graduates work with a mentor for six months to ensure the new small business is around for years to come.

“It actually means for me an opportunity to create a legacy, something to leave for my children, my children’s children,” Lowery said.

To sign up for the Black Business Accelerator, go to