How can we better utilize public economic development subsidies and better leverage creative business development to expand good job opportunities?
• Tie support for economic development projects to Community Benefits Agreements (CBA). A CBA is a legally enforceable contract signed by community groups and a developer that sets forth the dividends that should be provided to local communities as part of a development project. They may include living wage requirements, minority contracting, first source hiring preferences, fair labor practices, job training programs, affordable housing set asides, transit integration, and other provisions.
• Utilize measurement tools to evaluate economic development projects. There are a number of tools available to advocates and policymakers to assess the overall economic, environmental, and social impacts of a proposed development project. Using tools like this, projects can be assessed on merits like whether jobs are being created for community residents both during and after construction; whether these jobs pay a living wage and provide workers with opportunities to develop skills and advance; and whether the development contributes to the vitality of the local economy and provides opportunity for locally owned businesses to be part of the expansion and development.
• Improve accountability for diversity and equity outcomes. All conditions on public subsidies or incentives, whether established through DBE programs, diversity hiring goals, or CBAs, must be delivered upon. This means that tax credits and concessions are only given if certain performance criteria are met; or, in cases where businesses need capital up front, loans could be granted but only forgiven if established community benefits are delivered.
• Target some entrepreneur training and business development programs to mid-sized businesses able to grown in communities of color. While there are now business development and entrepreneur training programs aimed at small minority-owned businesses, that support should be expanded and made available to bigger businesses that can hire in the hundreds. This can be place-based and population-based, building on the location-specific strategies of the Central Corridor as well as populations in the other areas of the Twin Cities region.
• Use existing workforce development programs to assess the interests and skills of unemployed and under-employed minority populations and then use that date to shape economic development efforts. Build local economies based on available talent, rather than hopeful thinking.