Mike Green shares economic dream on MLK Day 2012
Around a thousand people gathered today at the Oregon Convention Center for The Skanner newspaper’s 26th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. The guests of honor included Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Patrick Quinton, executive director of the Portland Development Commission. Keynote speaker was Mike Green …
The article written by Cornelius Swart and published in the Oregonian newspaper on Jan. 16, 2012, painted a nice picture of a historic event. In my speech at that event, I called for an unprecedented collaboration and commitment between the leadership in Portland’s established economic ecosystem and leaders in the city’s economically disconnected sectors. The response was instant and overwhelming.
See a transcript of my entire speech here (with photos of the event and my wife, Emily, and two of my five children, Madison and Josiah).
I’m hopeful that urban centers around the nation will follow Portland’s leadership as it continues the work of developing the Portland Urban Innovation Roundtable (UIR).
I believe urban America is at a dangerous crossroads. A decade into the 21st century, large swaths of urban regions are disconnected from the process of job growth and wealth creation. From the pipeline of STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) to the productivity of high-growth entrepreneurship and access to risk capital investments, we have witnessed several decades of a phenomena that my colleague and A21 co-founder Johnathan Holifield characterizes as a cultivation of successfully established regional innovation clusters that remain disconnected from geographically adjacent sectors in urban America. These regional innovation clusters are creating significant economic impact for targeted regions. But not all of urban America is engaged.
The 21st century Innovation Economy offers an opportunity for us to work together to bring to fruition an economic dream that Dr. Martin Luther King never dreamed was possible.
In this new decade, we have the power to expand existing economic ecosystems to include those regions that never received the investment, cultivation and nurturing that could have, and would have, ensured greater preparation and participation in the Innovation Economy by more Americans. Today, we can apply lessons learned and bring together leaders in established innovation ecosystems to work together with leaders in economically disconnected sectors to uplift the economic strength of the entire region. We can invest in those we failed to invest in before. We can support entrepreneurship that fuels job growth by inculcating a culture of risk capital that invests in sectors that heretofore have been ignored.
It’s time we established inclusive frameworks and regional innovation clusters that reached outward, while well-funded resource programs and initiatives worked to prepare disconnected sectors to reach forward and connect to the 21st century Innovation Economy.
America spent the past four decades transitioning its declining manufacturing economy into a knowledge-based, tech-driven global innovation economy. Many Americans were left behind during the past four decades. Let’s make sure that doesn’t occur in the next four.