Guest Blog by Sarah Treuhaft, Director of Equitable Growth Initiatives, PolicyLink
It is another summer in which America’s deep racial fault lines are being painfully exposed. Following the horrific violence in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, in a July 8 poll seven in ten Americans said race relations are “generally bad.” A National League of cities analysis of one hundred “state of the city” speeches from 2016 found that mayors increasingly view racism and inequities as major threats to progress in their cities.
While police accountability, r
Despite our collective need for inclusion, inequitable growth remains the norm. In the post-recession economy, America’s metropolitan regions are again growing, but it has been a low-wage recovery and most regions are not making progress toward racial and economic inclusion. Within central cities, we see a similar trend: growth is isolated to a few walkable neighborhoods while income, wealth, and home values are stagnant or declining everywhere else. Thus, while growth creates more favorable conditions for shared prosperity, economic gains do not automatically “trickle-
To shift to inclusive growth, we need to embed an equity lens and approach into economic development practice. Last month, PolicyLink, the National League of Cities, and the Urban Land Institute, launched an Equitable Economic Development fellowship dedicated to supporting cities as they implement new, transformative approaches to growing inclusive local economies. Boston, Charlotte, Houston, Memphis, M
Our initial meeting took place in Portland, Oregon, where the city’s economic development agency, the Portland Redevelopment Commission (PDC), has been working for the past several years to integrate equity throughout
Deeply embracing equity has led PDC to get clear about how its investments result in good jobs and business opportunities for its struggling communities of color. The agency has also created some innovative
Portland’s efforts showcase how economic development agencies can retool themselves to take on today’s challenges of inequitable growth. As our cities grow more diverse yet also more unequal, equity is their path to innovation and shared prosperity. To advance equitable growth, these institutions need to eliminate the bias that exists within their own walls and develop a viable, results-focused economic strategy.
Steering institutions in new directions is no small task, but the need is urgent and there are clear starting points. Adopting an equity analysis tool that staff can use to assess who benefits and who suffers from institutional decision-making (such as this one from the Government Alliance on Race & Equity) is an excellent first step toward the long-term goal of undoing institutional racism and building a more equitable economy.
Sarah Treuhaft is director of equitable growth initiatives at PolicyLink, a national research and action institute based in Oakland. She leads the All-In Cities initiative, which works with city leaders to develop and implement strategies for racial economic inclusion, and is currently producing an equitable development strategy for Pittsburgh with local partners Neighborhood Allies and Urban Innovation 21. Their report will be released in September.