Substantial investments in infrastructure projects with strong minority hiring goals have historically been, and continue to be, an important avenue for linking people of color to good jobs. Infrastructure projects create jobs through the labor they demand and through the increased economic activity they foster. At the same time, infrastructure projects help to keep communities safe and vibrant, and can revitalize distressed areas. A $1 billion investment in infrastructure creates roughly 18,000 jobs, most of which are skilled jobs in construction and manufacturing that pay good wages. As recipient of certain federal and state funds, these projects typically carry specific minority business inclusion and diversity hiring goals. Read More
As the government advances job creation strategies that provide subsidies to businesses, we must ensure that these public investments are leveraged toward greater equity. Many economists advocate for doing away with economic development subsidies altogether, arguing that they contribute to a zero-sum game in which states and localities simply poach jobs from one another, and because they reward corporations for location and retention decisions they would have likely made anyway. As it is unlikely that Minnesota will do away with economic development subsidies anytime soon, the focus should be on how to make these deals more equitable. Read More
We’ve seen several strategies aimed at fostering entrepreneurship with a specific goal of building income growth for minority business owners as well as expanded hiring opportunities for workers of color. We know that successful business ownership is perhaps one of the most direct pathways toward raising household income. Data from the 2010 Census shows that on a national basis, more people of color are becoming business owners. There were 1.9 million black-owned businesses in 2007, up 60.5% from 2002. But 2007 data show that of Minnesota’s 115,988 businesses with paid employees, barely half of one percent were owned by African Americans, indicating the room for improvement within our state. Read More
The pathway toward regional economic competitiveness is through an inclusive regional economy. Disparities by race in employment and income will undermine our historical position as a prosperous region and state. The smartest economic development investments we can make are those that intentionally reach those who are most in need of good employment. Pursuit of the recommendations outlined here will help put us back on a path to prosperity and equity for all Minnesotans. Read More
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