America21′s Mike Green featured in Oregon Business Mag
In the past decade, much of the new wealth creation and job growth in the United States has occurred in the startup technology sectors.
“But those types of innovations and market disruptions are not happening across black America,” says Green, who is also a part-time blogger. The reasons “are systemic, historical and institutional, and someone has to address it.”
Programs that try to alleviate the economic inequities plaguing African-American communities are nothing new. But America21 is one of the first groups to target high-tech and Internet ventures, and to try and create a comprehensive solution focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, as well as access to risk capital and “high-growth” entrepreneurship.
In the past year, America21 has generated a remarkable amount of attention and excitement locally and nationally, from community leaders in cities around the country to White House policymakers. The group’s rapid ascension is due in no small part to Green’s ability to wrap together disparate phenomena, from the achievement gap in K-12 education to the dearth of black angel networks, into a sweeping aspirational narrative about 21st-century wealth building in America’s inner cities.
“No one in recent memory has come out with such articulate, explicit connections,” says Patrick Quinton, the executive director of the Portland Development Commission (PDC), who met Green this past winter at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast hosted by The Skanner newspaper at the Oregon Convention Center. Green, the keynote speaker, had come to Portland because Portland business and community leader James Posey had read what he described as a “very exciting” editorial that Green had written a few months earlier for The Oregonian. “There’s a synergy to this idea, a way of putting things together, that is unique,” Posey says.
America21 is a national organization with national aspirations. But the America21 story is also a uniquely Oregon story, about a black guy helping orchestrate a leading-edge urban economic development movement from a “cow patch,” as Chad Womack, Green’s Philadelphia-based America21 colleague, describes Medford. In the coming year, the team also hopes to launch one of the organization’s breakout initiatives — an “urban innovation roundtable” — in Portland, a city often described as one of the whitest metropolitan centers in the country.
* * *
Excerpt above courtesy of Oregon Business Magazine. See full cover story titled, “The Divide” by Linda Baker in Oregon Business Magazine. (Photos of Mike Green and son by Jamie Lusch)