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The promise of Durham

Like America, Durham has benefited from a long history of successful entrepreneurship while traversing a troubled past that left much of its once-flourishing black population segregated, disconnected and isolated from the most promising economic resources and assets in the region. Like America, Durham suffers today from unresolved issues of a segregated century that, absent intentional intervention, offer little hope of organic resolution. Read More

Researchers are mapping the racist foundations of Minneapolis housing partners

In May, Minneapolis’ park board voted to recommend changing the name of Lake Calhoun, named for the former vice president and staunch defender of slavery, John C. Calhoun, who lacks any strong connections to the state of Minnesota, to Bde Maka Ska, the Dakota name for the body of water. In June, after a campaign by students, the school board voted to rechristen Alexander Ramsey Middle School — its namesake, a former Minnesota governor, had called for the extermination of the Sioux tribe — as Justice Page Middle School, after the first African-American on the Minnesota Supreme Court, Alan Page. Read More

Community-based solutions for individuals with autism

Taking stock of assets is essential, whether in business or within community development, and most certainly in the case of people with different abilities. Too often, we look at our special needs population through the lens of “disability,” focusing on what they can’t do versus what they can. In Greater Phoenix, we’ve been working hard to shift that paradigm by exploring what individuals with special abilities can do and learn, where they can work and live, and how they can contribute a valued dimension to the fabric of society. Read More

National diversity and inclusion campaign places focus on hiring from HBCUs

With the support of over 20 HBCUS including Bethune-Cookman University, Clark Atlanta University, Grambling State University, Lane College and Tougaloo, Jobs R 4 U will visit each campus to host soft skill workshops. Workshop topics include: Networking 101, Being Black in the Workplace, Creating a LinkedIn Profile and How to Interview with a Tech Company. In addition, to the workshops, there will also be an HBCU 20x20 Career & Internship Fair. The first stop on the HBCU 20x20 tour is Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR in October. Read More 

Can we build inclusive, innovative local economies?

Fifty years ago, Detroit was raging hot with racial tension between a predominantly black population and a predominantly white police force. That powder keg exploded at the Algiers Hotel in 1967. The new movie "Detroit" explores this historic event. In that same year, legendary Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown assembled many of the nation's top athletes in Cleveland at the Ali Summit to show support for Muhammad Ali, whose undeterred social activism had been met with a ban from the pro boxing world that he was destined to dominate. Read More


Innovation districts: Where talent, institutions, and networks come together

Innovation districts are distinct locales within urban areas where leading-edge companies and institutions align and coexist in concert with startups and incubators. A handful of cities have them where research universities intersect with medical centers or health care systems, cultural institutions, and downtown offices. They're often found at the edges of large city downtowns, and usually include rapidly revitalizing neighborhoods that have transit access, great structural "bones" (an older, mixed-use building fabric), and appealing walkability. Read More

Chattanooga’s Innovation District revived the city — but is it sustainable?

Chattanooga is now building a more sustainable, innovative economy. During a brainstorming session in the hub of Chattanooga’s Innovation District, Mayor Andy Berke urged community leaders to help design a better way to create more innovation in the heart of the city, using the ultra-fast broadband links in the self-proclaimed “Gig City” by bringing together the academic, business, and cultural attributes found in an urban city. Read More

How a surprising partnership will result in internet for Detroiters lacking access

Meghan Sobocienski remembers a recent summer day when the internet at the church Grace in Action was down—again. Members of the youth-run collective Radical Productions, which does web development and is housed in the church, had to halt their activities for the day while they waited five hours for a technician to arrive and troubleshoot the connection.

"Would that ever happen downtown?" asks Sobocienski, who is the cofounder of the Southwest Detroit church. "If that happened to G.M. and their internet was down for five hours, would they and say, 'Stop working, go home'? No. But it happens all the time in the neighborhoods."

This wasn't the first time that the internet went down at Grace in Action and they couldn't fix it themselves. But it might be the last.

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The case for saving the small black city

The story of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, is the story of how a small black city fights from vanishing, or rather, from being vanished away, and the black women who were recently installed to lead that fight. In May, Marita Garrett was elected the first black woman to serve as mayor for the Borough of Wilkinsburg, which sits on the eastern border of Pittsburgh in the Big Tech-centric city’s shadows. The Wilkinsburg she is inheriting is one that, like a lot of small municipalities, is fighting for its own visibility, and even its very existence. Read More

Chamber and Innovate Raleigh announce partnership to benefit startup community

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Innovate Raleigh announced a new partnership.

The collaboration will aid the area’s growing entrepreneurial community through new initiatives and support services for local startups.

“The objective is to fill gaps in the innovation ecosystem and address the needs of entrepreneurs,” said Terri Lomax, co-founder and chair of the Innovate Raleigh Executive Committee. While conducting an organization assessment of Innovate Raleigh, she said, entrepreneurs indicated they needed assistance in three areas: funding, talent acquisition, and advocacy with state and local elected officials.

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Four cities learn how to create inclusive communities

How can cities build inclusive, innovative local economies? That’s the question Forward Cities is answering through a multi-city learning collaborative comprised of Durham, Detroit, Cleveland and New Orleans.

Supported by the Case Foundation and Kresge Foundation, Forward Cities has partnered with ScaleUp Partners in visiting each metro region to meet with local community, business and government leaders and discover first-hand what’s working as well as the challenges faced by these pioneers. Although many of these efforts are nascent, they represent a growing base of committed collaborators determined to forge new paths toward equitable access to economic opportunity.

Governing magazine today published an insightful commentary about the efforts ongoing in each of these Forward Cities metros.

Durham, NC is in the spotlight. In wake of the unfolding tragedy sparked by clashes between groups attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA last weekend extraordinary stories of positive social and economic impact are occurring in the Bull City. For example, the story in national media today is about the response by protesters who took down a century old confederate statue in the middle of town. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, local leaders in Durham are working across fault lines of race and politics to focus on ways to stem the tide of gentrification in the community of Northeast Central Durham. Similar efforts are occurring in cities across America.

"Beneath the turmoil of contentious politics and finger-pointing, people are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work to start developing inclusive ecosystems at the local level," says Christopher Gergen, co-founder of Forward Cities and Durham resident. "They cross racial, ethnic, political and socioeconomic divides. They all want the same thing, what's best for their communities to improve quality of life for all."

Forward Cities is capturing this ongoing effort and producing case studies along with a policy toolkit that cities across its learning collaborative can use to better assess their local conditions and create a strategic approach to developing an inclusive economy that fits their distinct assets, demographics and local environment.

Joining Forward Cities as a strategic advisor is Johnathan Holifield, co-founder of ScaleUp Partners, a national consultancy specializing in economic inclusion and competitiveness strategies. Holifield is a former NFL player, attorney, civil rights advocate and author of “The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness.”

“Too often local economic-development strategies have failed to connect to communities of color,” Holifield says. "In the past, our nation could get away with growing the economy and competing with the world while one hand was tied behind our back; in other words, without top contributions from all Americans. In today's knowledge-based, tech-driven global innovation economy, we need all hands on deck to sustain our global competitiveness."

Forward Cities is set to release “The Promise of Durham,” which tells the story of efforts ongoing by local individuals, organizations and institutions, including Durham’s Office of Economic Development, to build an inclusive innovation ecosystem that they hope will result in equal access to economic equity, shared prosperity and improved quality of life for all residents. Durham’s success in developing an inclusive economic environment could be a pilot demonstration that cities across the country can emulate.

5 cities across North Carolina benefiting from InnovateNC

It has been two years since five communities across North Carolina embarked on InnovateNC, an effort to accelerate new business starts and small business growth (particularly within disconnected neighborhoods) through a multi-city learning collaborative. Recently, leaders from Wilmington/Carolina Coast, Wilson, Pembroke, Greensboro and Asheville convened for the final time as a group to reflect on progress to date, share their updated strategic plans and discuss next steps. What was abundantly clear: Real strides are being made, and there is much to be learned from this work.

Read More.

Positioned for growth: Advancing the Oklahoma City innovation district

In today’s global economy, cities rise above international competitors—or not—based on their ability to innovate not within single industries—autos, steel, energy—but rather by finding new points of convergence across them. The implications of this new competitive landscape for Oklahoma City are significant.

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Why America’s great cities are becoming more economically segregated

Richard Florida became famous among people who think about cities 15 years ago with “The Rise of the Creative Class.” He predicted that postindustrial cities would succeed by focusing on the three Ts: technology, talent and tolerance. People in the “creative class” benefit from density, he said, and would move to places where laws are kind to tech entrepreneurs, where museums provide an evening out and where gay people are comfortable. Indeed, New York recovered its private-sector jobs nearly four years faster than the nation after the Great Recession. Read More

How Chattanooga's fiber network connects more than just people

Chattanooga, Tennessee, gets a lot of attention for its municipal fiber network because it brings unparalleled connectivity to thousands of residents. But it's also enabling another type of connectivity. Dozens of smart city projects are allowing devices to communicate with one another, data points to find new meaning and transportation infrastructure to evolve. Without the baseline support provided by the city's municipal fiber network, city Chief Information Officer Brent Messer says the city wouldn't be the technological leader it is today. Read More
283 Articles | Page: | Show All
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