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ENEWS: Federal Reserve Bank Seeks Equity, for All

Date Published: 01/14/2020

Author: Dane Smith

Minneapolis Fed’s Inflection on Equity

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is the latest influential institution in Minnesota to pivot toward equity in its mission statement and focus.  An email announcing a “new mission and a new look’’ for 2020 was headlined “Pursuing an economy that works for all of us’’ and “How We’re Working for All’’ (bold italics added). Elsewhere on the FRB-Minneapolis website, the biography for President Neel Kashkari notes that he was “instrumental in establishing the Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute to promote greater economic equity.”  Also this week, Kashkari and former Supreme Court Justice Alan Page presided over a convening in which they outlined their reasons for supporting a new state constitutional amendment, reinforcing education equity as an imperative. The proposed change in the original 1858 language, which sets for the state government’s educational responsibility, redefines it as an “Equal Right to Quality Public Education’’ through “quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right.’’  The proposal drew immediate criticism from the state’s teacher’s union and a conservative think tank, but it launched a conversation that should be beneficial.  As Growth & Justice prepares to roll out our Minnesota Equity Blueprint in late February, we are encouraged to see more and more foundations, businesses, and non-profits framing their work around equity and addressing all our damaging disparities -- racial, economic, regional and environmental – and moving toward both practical and aspirational solutions.  Check out our Star Tribune op-ed from 2015, timely as ever, in which we observed that “equity’’ was becoming a prevailing theme in public policy, and a term that both bankers and social justice advocates could embrace. 

Regional Economic Conditions Mixed

Growth & Justice staff attended the annual Regional Economic Conditions Conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis last week. The half-day conference focused on state economic outlooks and key industry spotlights for the multi-state Ninth Federal Reserve District, and the findings echoed key themes Growth & Justice has emphasized in our emerging Minnesota Equity Blueprint. Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, presented the keynote address, which featured agribusiness and rural communities’ disparity challenges, examples of rural-urban connections and resilience, and advocacy around the idea of a “shared destiny.”  State analysts discussed continued concerns about labor force growth, poverty rates in rural areas that are similar to urban areas, and a lack of internet access.  The event provided a solid base of information helpful to local communities and that should inform state-level public policy. Webinar and slides are available at the FRB website.

Your G & J Support Matters, in 2020 and Beyond

It’s all hands on deck for 2020! We welcome your volunteer time and skills: with our events, our research, policy development, communications, and in connecting with other Minnesotans statewide to share ideas and practices that build community and economic equity. If you believe in this work, please support us financially, too, as you are able to do so.  Please contact Jane Leonard, president of Growth & Justice, for more information: jane@growthandjustice.org

Quote

“It is this connotation — that equity is really about every person or household having a reasonable share of property and assets, an ownership stake in society and the economy — that makes it the ideal word for describing all our various efforts to reduce inequality and invest in human capital.’’ -- Star Tribune op-ed, “An Of-the-Moment Idea: Equity,’’ linked above.


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