What’s In A Name

Parish Capital Advisors

In the early 20th century, when African-American art, drama and culture were blossoming in Harlem, New York, black entrepreneurship had a different home—Parrish Street in Durham, North Carolina.

Durham thrived at the turn of the century thanks to the success of tobacco and textile industries. Some of the best known black-owned business in the country started in the region during the period, including North Carolina Mutual Insurance Co. (founded in 1898), and Mechanics & Farmers’ Bank (founded in 1907). North Carolina Mutual had offices on Durham’s Parrish St., which came to be known as “Black Wall Street.”

The founders of Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Parish Capital wanted to invoke some of that history when they named their fund-of-funds management firm. The firm is in the market with its second fund of funds, reportedly with a target of $650 million. Its strategy is to back small firms and those that pursue investment niches.

The firm dropped the second “r” from its name, so that the name would also connote the idea of a local parish, or “small community,” which “symbolizes our close working relationship with our limited, general and network partners,” according to its Web site.

James Mason, Charles Merritt and Wendell McCain founded the firm. Both Merritt and Mason came from Duke University Management Co., where they were responsible for private equity strategy. McCain used to be a vice president at BancBoston Ventures. Mason and McCain are African American, as is much of the firm’s staff. The firm also has an office in London.