Andrew Robert Colom is a creator, investor, and believer. A third generation business founder and civic leader, he maintains a generational commitment to progress for overlooked people, places, stories and opportunities.
Based in Detroit, Michigan, with strong roots in Mississippi where he was born and spent his childhood, Andrew divides his time between his successful entrepreneurial ventures in the Midwest and the South. His days are spent co-running Century Partners, a multimillion dollar, game-changing development company focused on the rustbelt that he co-founded with David Alade in 2014, overseeing operations for his Mississippi-based real estate company, CK Realty, and lending his creative lens to projects surrounding Story ARC, his most recent company, which he founded to boldly reimagine the kinds of narratives that are given light and the ways stories are told.
Raised in Columbus, MS, the child of a civil rights lawyer and a judge, Andrew had an early, front row seat to the structural inequalities crushing many Black families’ efforts for economic advancement. Spending his spare time shooting films on the family Panasonic camera, he dreamt of one day becoming a businessman and a filmmaker: understanding the importance of continuing in his parents and grandparents’ footsteps of forging opportunities for himself and others, but also wanting to give center stage to his community’s voice.
A writer by training, and one of the first students from his public high school to ever attend an Ivy League university, Andrew graduated from Columbia University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. In college, Andrew threw himself into artistic
and leadership roles. He acted as president of the Black Theater Ensemble and joined the prestigious Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, helping reestablish the Eta Chapter of the fraternity to its original charter. An active student in the Creative Writing Department, he had the privilege of studying under the program director, Leslie Woodard. There, reading works by James Baldwin and W.E.B. Du Bois, he learned the impact words could have on people generationally and his dedication to writing and storytelling crystallized. His senior year, his writing was awarded honorable mention for the Louis Sadler Prize in the Arts.
Andrew remained in the city for graduate school, heading to New York University where The New York Times awarded him a full, merit-based scholarship to pursue a Master of Fine Arts. During his two years at NYU, he studied creative writing with esteemed writers E.L. Doctorow and Jayne Anne Phillips.
After years living in New York City, thriving in and around the nation’s most prestigious, elite institutions, Andrew headed back to his home state of Mississippi in 2009, taking his first, concrete steps towards fulfilling those promises he had made to himself years before. There, he took on the running of a syndication company for Black films and built out his first real estate company, going from a portfolio of five single family homes to over 200 homes and apartment units. In 2009, Andrew also wrote and directed ‘The Flight of Calvin Waters’, a short film based on the real story of the last few days of Billy Joe Johnson, a Black Mississippi high school football star. Johnson, who was just weeks away from leaving his hometown for college on a full scholarship, was found shot dead in his car after being pulled over by a white sheriff’s deputy in George County, MS in 2008. The death was ruled a suicide. Andrew’s film was accepted into numerous film festivals around the country and took the highest award, The Ron Beard Award, at the Magnolia Film Festival.
In 2014, after reading about the inspiring and tragic stories of Ossian and Gladys Sweet, a Black doctor and his wife who bought a home in a white middle-class Detroit neighborhood in the 1920s, and were forced to face off with a violent white mob, Andrew started planning a move north, to the Motor City. The Sweets, who won a huge legal battle after they defended their own home in 1925, ultimately forced the legalization of racial residential integration across the United States, and inspired Andrew to create a real estate company that could thrive while addressing historic injustices, and doing right by the community it was based in. Andrew founded Century Partners on this basis with David Alade, a fraternity brother and fellow Columbia University graduate.
Since then, Andrew has continued to build out his businesses, while maintaining his dedication to writing and film. In 2020, Andrew released his latest short movie, One Sweet Night, starring J. D. Williams from The Wire, a stunning telling of the night Ossian Sweet and his family faced off with their white neighbors and sought to take a stand for their own stake, and the stake of all Black Americans, in the American dream. His newest company, Story ARC, which produced the movie, is a storytelling company focused on the production of story-driven content, the analysis of stories, and the enhancement of the story experience.
Today, Andrew is committed to the idea of new paths, believing one should approach life with the intention of creating an opportunity whenever feasible, while also widening the lanes of opportunity as broadly, and as free of prejudice as possible.
He lives in Detroit, in one of the very homes and neighborhoods his company invested in, with his partner Rose Hackman, a feminist writer, and his begrudgingly-adopted dog Alfie.