As director of the North Carolina District of the Small Business Administration (SBA), North Carolina Central University alumnus Thomas A. Stith III, ‘83, ‘86, is leading the charge to empower business owners during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stith oversees North Carolina’s SBA office and assists local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. He also leads SBA program initiatives that provide small businesses with access to capital, offer business advice and link small business owners to federal government contract opportunities and technical assistance.
“My mission is to ensure that the North Carolina district office is providing key services to small businesses in North Carolina,” Stith said.
The SBA supports business from initial establishment, as well as while they grow and expand. During the coronavirus pandemic Stith’s vision has expanded beyond executing the SBA’s mission but to also discover ways to enhance the small business community.
With over 900,000 small businesses employing approximately 1.7 million people, the small business community has a key role in the state economy.
“Small business owners are very resilient; innovation and preservation skills are key to enduring this unprecedented time,” Stith said. “Small businesses will play a vital role in our economy as we emerge from this pandemic.”
Stith’s extensive career spans more than 30 years in the public and private sectors.
“It’s important to not only have the solid educational foundation that NCCU provides but also to seek out mentors and be grounded in faith,” Stith advises future business and political leaders. “Seek out someone who is willing to coach you through challenges you may face. I found it very valuable in my career to have council from others.”
Prior to his appointment with the SBA, he served as CEO of The Michael Thomas Group, a consulting firm he co-founded that provides business development opportunities.
Stith previously served as chief of staff to for former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, becoming the first African American to serve in that role.
An avid supporter of Historically Black College and University (HBCUs), he led McCrory’s HBCU Initiative that resulted in a $200 million bond issue to help meet university needs throughout the state.
He also worked as economic development program director for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, and as vice president at the Civitas Institute. He also served as director of supplier diversity and business development for Progress Energy.
“The instruction and education I received at NCCU enabled me to confidently engage with businesses for various services in any environment,” he adds.
The Durham native previously served as the at-large council member for three consecutive terms - from 1999-2007 - for the Durham City Council. During his tenure, he led policy initiatives focused on public safety, economic development and fiscally accountability.
Stith obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from NCCU.