America21 influences new PolicyBridge inclusion report
(Excerpt from article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 26, 2012. See full article at the Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“The Fusion of Inclusion,” a report on minority participation in high-tech industries released Monday by PolicyBridge, warns that blacks and Hispanics are nearly invisible in Northeast Ohio’s new economy and that their “underperformance” in advanced industries threatens the region’s economic competitiveness.
At the dawn of a digital age, “an entire group of people has been largely excluded from the economic benefits stemming from high-tech job growth,” the report declares. “African American and Hispanic communities are increasingly disconnected from today’s innovation economy.”
The consequences for the region could be severe, the authors warn. Blacks and Hispanics make up 20 percent of the 12-county region studied. Their absence from its growth industries could widen inequality and impede the region from becoming an industry leader in anything.
“We simply, as a matter of physics, cannot get there with 20 percent of our population contributing less than 2 percent of our product,” said Johnathan Holifield, one of the leaders of a new inclusion campaign.
The former NFL running back, who briefly ran the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, is the new vice president of inclusive competitiveness at NorTech, an economic development agency focused on technology clusters. NorTech’s chief executive, Rebecca Bagley, last year brought the diversity issue to PolicyBridge and encouraged the study.
Excluding Asians, minorities make up a fraction of the workers and entrepreneurs stoking high-technology ventures, according to the study by PolicyBridge, a local public policy think tank that focuses on minority issues. What’s more, with few blacks and Hispanics pursing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM fields, there’s little diversity in the pipeline.
Johnathan Holifield is the Co-founder, Chief Strategist and Evangelist of The America21 Project.