For the past 30 years, cities across the country have been in a period of transition: spatially, demographically, politically, and socially, but in almost every city, the most dramatic transition has been economic. Many of the manufacturing jobs that fueled the country’s growth for the first half of the 20th century have moved production overseas, resulting in a significant loss of unionized manufacturing jobs. They have been replaced by both low-wage service jobs and high-wage, high-skill employment opportunities. These transitions have had disparate impacts on various segments of city residents. Measures of race-based disparity including income, education levels and employment are unacceptably high across the country.
Historically, local government economic development policies and programs have not benefited all populations, and in many cases have particularly neglected or even shortchanged people of color, immigrants, and low-income communities. There is a need for cities to be intentional about targeting their economic development programs, funding and policies at the specific populations and neighborhoods that are increasingly distance from the growth sectors of their regional and city economy.
As cities learn to adapt to their new economic and demographic realities, equitable economic development policies are an important ingredient in a larger strategy to ensure that all of our citizens and all of our neighborhoods benefit from change and growth and have a stake in the future of their city.
[Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.]