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Community Highlights

Highlights from the District: Economic Inclusion and Southern Cities

  • Economic Inclusion event

    1 of 5 Scot Spencer, Annie E. Casey Foundation, welcomes attendees.

  • Economic Inclusion event

    2 of 5 Matt Martin presented, Leading on Opportunity, the Charlotte Experience.

  • Economic Inclusion event

    3 of 5 The panel on Racial Equity and Economic Inclusion included Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond, Va.; Kimberlee Archie, Asheville, N.C.; Nathaniel Smith, Atlanta, Ga.; and moderator Matthew Freeman, TMI Consulting.

  • Economic Inclusion event

    4 of 5 Panel participants Kimberlee Archie, Asheville, N.C., and Nathaniel Smith, Atlanta, Ga.

  • Economic Inclusion event

    5 of 5 Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond, Va.

Economic inclusion is the advancement of policies and practices that enable disinvested and underserved communities to fully contribute to the nation’s economy to ensure our country’s future prosperity.

Economic inclusion is a people-focused and place-based area of community development work.  The Richmond Fed has been partnering with stakeholders around the District on economic inclusion initiatives for years, holding programs focused on economic inclusion in Maryland, the District of Columbia, North and South Carolina, and recently in Virginia. Over the past several years, the Richmond Fed’s Community Development team has been bringing communities together to explore promising new practices. Economic inclusion has drawn the attention of a wide range of stakeholders such as local leaders, community organizations, academics and financial institutions.

In October of 2017, a multi-city group led by the Annie E Casey Foundation, the City of Richmond and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond met in Richmond for three days to think about the strategies, policies, data and best practices of economic inclusion. They focused on seven specific cities in the South: Richmond, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; New Orleans, La.; Asheville, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn. and Nashville, Tenn. These seven cities are partnering to advance strategies for economic inclusion and establish effective networks for discussing city-level initiatives. The City of Richmond served as the host city for the three-day program, giving others an opportunity to learn about challenges and innovations locally, such as the city’s Office of Community Wealth Building, which is the first of its kind in the nation.

Southern cities in particular are leading the way in economic inclusion and are being intentional about progressing equitable development to improve stark racial disparities. Richmond’s dedication to bringing wealth building, job training and economic inclusion strategies to the forefront is a model for other cities. During the week, the Office of Community Wealth Building along with the Office of Minority Business Development engaged in quality peer-to-peer discussions that included local hiring strategies and community benefit agreements that support minority and local business participation, used between community members and developers of publicly funded projects. Strategies like these are examples of economic inclusion tools that are being implemented across the country.

Establishing defined protocols for an inclusive market economy ensures that anyone regardless of their gender, place of birth, family background, age or other circumstances over which they have no control, has full and fair access to labor markets, finance, entrepreneurship, and economic opportunity. In local government, some cities have institutionalized economic inclusion policies through forming departments, commissions and initiatives around economic inclusion.

Understanding the data on race and inequality, the role of intentional procurement and hiring practices, and why businesses are moving toward more inclusive strategies are all important to providing broader opportunities in communities. The seven city peer model is an example of both shared learning and new thinking about opportunities and innovative approaches that can lead to positive change.

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