As April turned into May, I was honored to participate in two similar events at vastly different locations: first, our release of the Human Capital chapter of the MN Equity Blueprint last Friday with OneMN.org in Olivia, MN, with over 40 southwestern region community & economic leaders; and then on Tuesday this week, the release of the inaugural State of Economic Inclusion Report for the Twin Cities region by the Center for Economic Inclusion at the first annual Powering Inclusion Summit in Minneapolis, with over 300 community & business leaders attending. From corn capital (Olivia) to old mill town (Minneapolis), economic inclusion by region, gender, and by race is on the minds, hearts, and actions of dynamic leaders across our state.
Here’s the key message clearly conveyed in both events, and neatly summarized by Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan who spoke in Minneapolis with Gov. Tim Walz: “Solutions come directly from community members themselves; lift up those innovations. We know how to do this.” This is exactly what Growth & Justice and our partners have done and are doing –lifting up and sharing community & region-based economic inclusion ideas and practices, through our Thriving by Design Network, to co-create and implement The Minnesota Equity Blueprint, to propel a thriving, inclusive economy with shared prosperity for all.
The Blueprint’s Human Capital chapter is the first of five chapters to be publicly unveiled. Others – Economic Development, Infrastructure, Climate Action & Natural Resources, and Democracy -- will follow at similar events across Minnesota in 2019.
Our Minnesota community is at a crossroads. If we embrace diverse, inclusive, and equitable community -- each of us belonging to and working to help our shared home -- we can build together a present and a future where every Minnesotan, regardless of race, gender, or geography, has the opportunity to succeed and to share their success. Read on for some highlights from the Human Capital Blueprint release event, and if you are thinking what I’m thinking – let’s get these rural & urban equity movements together! And please help us continue this work by donating today to Growth & Justice, for economic growth & social justice! We cannot do it without your steady and increased support.
Our rollout of the Human Capital section of the Minnesota Equity Blueprint in Olivia last week attracted several news reporters, and we were pleased to see accurate and perceptive coverage by the Willmar-based West Central Tribune, the largest newspaper in southwestern Minnesota (by veteran reporter Tom Cherveny) and insightful coverage by MinnPost, too, (by their Greater MN Economic Vitality focus reporter, Gregg Aamot). Both articles summarized presentations by local and regional community leaders who echoed our themes in the report, mainly the compelling need to invest in racial equity, economic security, education, and health care in order for all residents to reach their full human potential. The community forum featured Carlotta Eischens, who with her husband, John, own and run the coffee shop where the Blueprint rollout event occurred. They also founded a youth center there that “succeeded in getting white and Hispanic youth in the community to associate with and support one another.” Eischen’s inspiring story of commitment to equality and serving ALL the youth in the community was summarized thus: "Everyone is equal (at the youth center). We try to help them to the finish line instead of trip them before they get there." Also highlighted was Pablo Obregon, leader of the Grow Our Own initiative of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, and Jay Trusty, executive director of the Southwest Regional Development Commission. From the West Central Tribune article: “Trusty said employers in the community (Worthington) had made it clear that unless new employees could be found, the community's steady decline would continue. He now gives talks around the country on how Worthington has turned its decline around by accepting diversity. The school system includes about 3,000 students, and is 60 percent diverse, with 49 percent of Hispanic or Latino heritage, he said. There are 28 different languages spoken in town. The town's population has grown from under 9,000 to almost 14,000 today, and Main Street buildings are filled again.’’ Trusty was given the last word in the article: "We want our community to grow and this (attracting newcomers, including immigrants and people of color) is the way we are going to get it done.” His colleague, Donn Winckler, executive director of the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, had the last word in the MinnPost article: “We really do need to make sure that everyone counts – to lift everyone up so that they can reach their potential.” What a great summary, too, of the Minnesota Equity Blueprint’s Human Capital chapter.
Forbes, one of the nation’s leading business magazines, published a powerful article recently documenting the enormous net benefit of Latino workers to the national economy. The article cited this bottom-line summary of a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics: “The Hispanic community in the United States has contributed significantly to US economic growth in recent decades and will continue to do so over the next 10 to 20 years.” And directly from the Peterson report: “The Hispanic community now exhibits significantly higher levels of opportunity-driven entrepreneurship than does the rest of the US population. These factors position the Hispanic community to increase its contribution to the US economy in coming decades, with significant positive effects on the overall economic growth rate.” We heard this theme echoed by business leaders in Minnesota, including those in Olivia and Minneapolis last week.
“The United States will need more migrants to sustain its potential growth rate in the future…Maintaining an immigration system that is open and appealing to a more diverse set of new migrants will be an important component for the continued economic success of the United States.’’ From Peterson Institute study cited above, “The Economic Benefits of Latino Immigration: How the Migrant Hispanic Population’s Demographic Contribute to US Growth.”