The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, the Housing Assistance Council, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and Rural LISC have come together to create virtual Rural Opportunity and Development Sessions, or ROAD Sessions. The first session, "Open for Business: Working with Minority-Owned Rural Firms through the Pandemic" this week featured entrepreneurs from Native, Latinx and Black rural communities who spoke about their experiences managing their businesses through the pandemic. The session highlighted disparities in those communities and the challenges they face during this time, as well as the organizations that are working hard to help them. Some of the concerns brought up included the inflexibility of funding and loan forgiveness in rural Native communities, the absence of recognition and financial safety nets for rural immigrant and Latinx communities and entrepreneurs, and the lack of access to affordable financial services in addition to many other essential needs like healthcare and healthy food in rural Black communities. The webinar was the first of three virtual ROAD sessions to take place, and a recording of the session will soon be available on the Aspen CSG webpage.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also created a Coronavirus Small Business Guide with information and resources to help entrepreneurs during this time.
A recent MinnPost article discusses the doubling of high-level poverty neighborhoods in the Twin Cities since 1980. Most neighborhoods that become high-poverty remain that way, the article says, and the Twin Cities “are a microcosm of the economic challenges facing the country.” Findings from the Economic Innovation Group show that 40% of the high-level poverty neighborhoods in Hennepin and Ramsey counties are “newly poor,” -- a phrase which describes places where poverty rates were below 20% in 1980 and at or above 30% in 2018. Persistent poverty, meaning poverty rates at 30% or more in both 1980 and 2018, was present in the Near North, Phillips, Cedar-Riverside, Thomas-Dale, Summit-University and North End neighborhoods. The only Twin Cities area that experienced a poverty turnaround was the North Loop. This issue is systematically entangled with race. “While the majority of Black residents of Hennepin and Ramsey counties do not live in high-poverty areas, Black residents are seven times more likely to be living in high poverty neighborhoods than white residents, compared to six times more likely nationally,” the article says.
With Tax Day postponed until July 15, the Economic Policy Institute recently resurfaced the new tool they launched earlier this year that explores how U.S. taxes and spending affect income inequality. The U.S. Tax & Spending Explorer helps people understand how the federal government influences household income inequality “through taxes and through spending on social insurance and safety net programs,” and also looks at “so-called “tax expenditures,” says the EPI. The tool explains how taxes and spending interact with people of all income levels, and how “decades of corporate tax cuts and increases in payroll taxes… have weakened the equalizing effect of the federal tax system.”
The University of Minnesota Extension and their conference coordinating partners (including Growth & Justice) will host the second annual Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) conference, Thursday, Sept. 10. online. Last year’s conference in Waseca, Minn. brought together more than 100 entrepreneurs, business leaders, economic development professionals, decision makers, and community champions. Participants had the opportunity to connect with others who care about entrepreneurship in their region. Be sure to save the date for this exciting event, and please help spread the word! (The conference will be held in Staples, MN in 2021.) Detailed conference information is available at https://z.umn.edu/CEC_Conference2020.
As mentioned in our newsletter from two weeks ago, Growth & Justice is starting the Thriving by Design - Rural & Urban Together Network Events Calendar Exchange to help promote events that keep us all informed and working together to improve our communities and our state. If you or your organization is hosting an event, or if you know of any upcoming interesting and resource-full events, we have a Google form where you may submit them for promotion. The form can be accessed with this link: https://forms.gle/WgHZsm46AfamwdNbA
“You need to address not just poverty, but workforce development, education, even social capital and networks. Most people find jobs via other folks in their social network. Those networks in a highly segregated city — not just focused on racial lines but economic lines -- means there’s complicated forces keeping poor places poorer.” -- Kenan Fikri, Economic Innovation Group director for research.