What is Economic Inclusion and Why Does it Matter in Atlanta?

Posted October 10, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog economicinclusioninatlanta 2016

In its new pub­li­ca­tion, Grow­ing the Future: The Case for Eco­nom­ic Inclu­sion in Metro Atlanta, the Part­ner­ship for South­ern Equi­ty (PSE) calls for a shift in how we assess eco­nom­ic growth — based on neigh­bor­hood devel­op­ment and trans­for­ma­tion, instead of tra­di­tion­al mea­sures such as gross domes­tic product.

Accord­ing to the Casey-fund­ed report, the end goal of this pro­posed par­a­digm shift is a more equi­table dis­tri­b­u­tion of income, wealth, jobs and entre­pre­neur­ial oppor­tu­ni­ties for Atlanta’s most vul­ner­a­ble residents.

To ensure inclu­sion, PSE shares sev­er­al ques­tions that Atlanta and oth­er cities across the nation must consider.

  • How do indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies fare — in terms of health, hous­ing, food and clothes — when they are not paid the same wages and income as their counterparts?
  • How does soci­ety cre­ate pro­duc­tive, trained and skilled indi­vid­u­als when large seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion lack access to the key com­po­nents, such as good teach­ers, trans­porta­tion, suf­fi­cient income and job training?
  • How does the Unit­ed States remain com­pet­i­tive when qual­i­fied per­son­nel are in short sup­ply and com­pa­nies can­not hire enough employ­ees to meet their needs?

PSE’s report out­lines prin­ci­ples that sup­port eco­nom­ic inclu­sion pol­i­cy and imag­ines a city where:

  • Fam­i­lies of all races and income lev­els achieve finan­cial well-being.
  • Region­al busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties and key deci­sion mak­ers rec­og­nize that low-income com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or are untapped eco­nom­ic assets.
  • Indi­vid­u­als can access equi­table and diverse edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties with appro­pri­ate sup­port systems.
  • Com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and low-income com­mu­ni­ties receive improved work­force train­ing and soft-skills development.
  • Authen­tic pub­lic-pri­vate com­mu­ni­ty part­ner­ships dri­ve place-based approach­es for eco­nom­ic inclu­sion and help revi­tal­ize under­de­vel­oped areas while invig­o­rat­ing met­ro­pol­i­tan economies.

Though PSE’s approach to assess­ing eco­nom­ic growth in Atlanta is new, the issues fac­ing the city are well estab­lished. For more than a decade, the Foun­da­tion has focused on address­ing dis­par­i­ties and increas­ing edu­ca­tion­al and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties across sev­er­al south­west Atlanta neigh­bor­hoods (Con­sid­er the report Chang­ing the Odds: The Race for Results in Atlanta, where Casey explores how race and place cre­ate bar­ri­ers that keep the city’s kids from reach­ing their full potential).

If we want to keep grow­ing, keep thriv­ing and remain com­pet­i­tive, Atlanta — and the nation as a whole — must shift our pri­or­i­ties,” says Janelle Williams, a senior asso­ciate at the Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. When we leave low-income com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or behind, we leave tal­ent behind. All peo­ple, regard­less of zip code or race, deserve the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn and inno­vate and be active con­trib­u­tors in our economy.”

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