CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrived in Charlotte Wednesday afternoon to host a Black Economic Summit.
Biden arrived at Camp North End around 1 p.m. to announce a new initiative called the Small Business and Entrepreneurs Advisory Council. Biden, with running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, is campaigning for November’s election against current President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
During the discussion, moderated by Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Biden highlighted his plan to Build Back Better by Advancing Racial Equity Across the American Economy.
Biden’s plan for Black Americans includes investing over $70 billion in HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions and leveraging $150 billion in new capital and opportunities for Black-owned small businesses and other small businesses that have been structurally excluded for generations.
Biden says he wants HBCUs to do the same things other universities can do, with funding, as well as engaging in more dialogue on a national level.
The goal is to spread the Biden-Harris plan of building the economy back after COVID-19′s negative impact on it. More than two dozen entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the country make up the council.
Biden said Wednesday he wants college to be free for students whose family makes less than $125,000 a year.
“They get in and pay noting to go to college,” Biden said, as he touched on the burden of college loans.
The goal to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour was also mentioned, when Biden was asked a question about raising it nationally.
“No one in America should be working for – a 40-hour a week job – and be living in poverty," Biden said.
Early childhood education was another talking point, as Biden put focus on the nation’s youngest people.
“Sixty-percent of a child’s brain is already developed by the time they’re 3, 4, 5 years old,” Biden said, who hopes to provide early education for children starting at age 3. “The better you educate a child the better a community as a whole is.”
He is also announcing his Small Business and Entrepreneurs Advisory Council which would mobilize entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country.
The owners of Camp North End restaurant Leah and Louise are on the council.
Co-owner Sabrina Collier asked Biden what he would do to help small restaurants struggling due to the pandemic.
Biden says it’s about prioritizing them and not allowing big businesses to use bail outs to raise salaries.
“Most small businesses are 10 or fewer employees so I propose that we focus on making sure the money goes to those businesses that in fact provide for being able to keep their employees on the payroll," he said.
His message energized supporters who gathered across the street.
“I’m ready for a change," one person said. "I feel positive, I’m optimistic about everything that’s happening.”
His visit comes one day before President Trump will come to town.
“I think the President is giving him a hard time about not being in North Carolina," another person said.
Biden did not miss an opportunity to blame the president for 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19.
“He knew exactly how bad the pandemic was back in February," he said. "He’s on tape saying he knew how bad it was and he didn’t say a thing, he didn’t say a thing.”
The previous week, at a town hall in Pennsylvania, Biden criticized Trump over his handling of COVID-19, calling Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic “criminal” and his administration “totally irresponsible.”
Biden was also in Wisconsin on Monday.
Trump has been in North Carolina four times within a month. He is expected back in the Queen City on Thursday, the day after Biden’s visit, to discuss healthcare.