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Columbia Business Monthly

Honoring Our Black Entrepreneurs: Anthony Lawrence

Feb 01, 2024 10:23AM ● By Genna Contino

In 2022, more than 20 percent of South Carolina businesses were owned by people from racial minorities, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Of those businesses, more than 72,000 were owned by Black entrepreneurs.

A 2023 study conducted by Lendio, a company that specializes in loans to small businesses, used data from the Census Bureau and the U.S. Small Business Administration to rank each state’s support of minority-owned businesses.

The study ranked South Carolina 14th in the nation, citing a 147-percent job growth at minority-owned businesses.

Every entrepreneur faces challenges in getting a business off the ground and keeping it on a growth trajectory through the ups and downs of the economy and the upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic. And many minority business owners face additional hurdles ranging from discrimination to a lack of mentorship opportunities, according to Lendio.

Meet some Black entrepreneurs around South Carolina who are navigating the challenges and putting their own stamp on the business world.

Anthony Lawrence

Mota Design Group


Anthony Lawrence is a licensed architect and development professional with extensive experience in architectural design, project management, design-build and land planning. He founded high-end residential design firm Mota Design in 2011. 

Touting more than two decades of experience, Lawrence has designed and developed a diverse portfolio over the years – from a satellite library to a 64-acre mixed use development in Columbia. 

“I attribute my success to the mentors who knew nothing about architecture but saw my potential,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence graduated from Mississippi State University with an architecture degree. During his college years, he was part of a design team for the 261,000-square foot Interstate Commerce Commission Complex in Washington, D.C. He also assisted with the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center and the Smithsonian Castle Renovation. Lawrence worked for several architecture firms after graduation, including a stint at Wilbur Smith Associates’ Dubai office where he developed a master plan for a 1,500-acre housing community.

Beyond his design work today at Mota, Lawrence serves as chairman of the South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners and as a member of the American Institute of Architects. After 24 years in the industry, he’s had to strategically plan not only in work, but in his personal life.

“One reoccurring challenge is work-life-health balance,” Lawrence said. “And I’ve found that focused/strategic planning for each really makes all three possible and very achievable.”