James Jackson III and ACCEL help black-owned businesses in Salt Lake City

Story and photo by GUSTABO RODRIGUEZ

How can a person get help promoting their own small business here in Utah? Where can a person seek help, especially in a town like Salt Lake that has room to have a lot more of their own local businesses, compared to Los Angeles, New York, or Miami that have the most diverse local own business in the country.

 Photo courtesy of James Jackson III founder of ACCEL

Photo courtesy of James Jackson III, founder of ACCEL

James Jackson III is a businessman who can help people, especially the black community, promote their own business.

Jackson was born and raised in Utah and like most of the diversity in the state he wanted to put his culture at the top of the list of this state. Jackson attended and graduated from Cottonwood High School in 1998.

He graduated from the University of Utah in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Jackson wanted to help people in his community; he wanted to help them by promoting them and watching them grow.

In junior high Jackson already knew what he wanted to do in the future, unlike other kids that don’t know what career they want. He wanted to help people from his culture, from his community and one of the reasons why is because there is such a small portion of African Americans here in Utah. So as a minority his goal was to help them in every way possible, help them achieve their goals.

ACCEL, African-Americans Advancing in Commerce Community Education & Leadership, is an organization that helps African American business to achieve their goals in a small diverse market here in Salt Lake.

Jackson founded ACCEL in 2009 and has helped about a dozen businesses and counting because this was the goal of Jackson, helping as much black business as possible.

ACCEL with their executive director Jackson need some help too from large private companies so he started a partnership with Pepsi Co. and Zion’s Bank and wants to establish a relationship with Budweiser. He wants this partnership because they can help money wise with the local owned businesses.

At the University of Utah Jackson had a professor whom he admires and respects him and considers him a mentor throughout his career.

Wilfred D. Samuels English professor at the University of Utah

Wilfred D. Samuels, is an English professor at the University of Utah

Professor Wilfred D. Samuels knows very well Jackson from his childhood all the way up to when he became his pupil at the U.

The youngest of Samuels’s son’s was best friends with Jackson and ever since he has been a much known friend.

“Although it has been over ten years that James was here on campus, we attend the same church,” Samuels said in an email.

Samuel said Jackson came from a loving and caring Christian family  and was raised with the highest values. Jackson and his family have always attended church and loved music. Samuels said that’s why they formed part of the church choir — his grandparents too — and participated in all church activities.

“At the U of U, he pursued a career in business. He worked hard and remained passionate about his major,” Samuels said.

Samuels said after Jackson graduated from the U he went on and worked with the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce and tried every single way to get the church involved in business efforts. That showed his commitment to the chamber and that he wanted to help his community by starting with the church.

“I know James to be congenial, principled, dedicated and passionate about life. He is totally committed to his personal growth and development. I admire and respect him,” Samuels said.

Being passionate about life and wanting to help others in his community, Jackson never gave up and he sought out help to start and make ACCEL a reality.

Francisco J. Sotelo is the executive director for the Utah Hispanic Chamber Commerce and a good friend of Jackson. Sotelo and Jackson met through an event two and a half years ago.

“James is a great leader and a good representation for his community, representing the African American people,” Sotelo said in a phone interview.

Jackson approached Sotelo with a strategy to make ACCEL which was a great idea, it just needed a little help, Sotelo said. ACCEL and the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce help each other by exchanging ideas to help their community. Sotelo took a lot from Jackson which later he applied to the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“Even right now we sit down and discuss ideas we can apply for our chambers and not just for one,” Sotelo said.

ACCEL and the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce have a great relation and with the same objective: helping the community in every possible way.

Jackson said he is very grateful to the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for showing him the right way and steps to form ACCEL and in the process help the black community rise in the local market in Utah.