The latest MetroHartford Alliance Breakfast, “The Business Case for Inclusion,” offered insight into how we can create inclusive economic development and growth in the Hartford Region. The event took place Thursday, November 7, 2019, at the Hartford Hilton.
In his opening remarks, Jay Williams, President and CEO of Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, explained that the Foundation has been “listening to and learning from residents, donors, and grantees while examining an array of information about the region.”
He shared their learnings, saying, “The Hartford region must achieve greater racial, geographic, and economic inclusion to reach its full potential as a vibrant, thriving and contributing force for regional and state prosperity.”
To emphasize his point, Williams shared information from a recent report by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called “Opportunity for Growth,” which demonstrated the business case for Equity and Inclusion.
He summarized part of the report, reading, “Broad-based economic opportunity is not a nice-to-have characteristic of local economies, but rather a fundamental aspect of sustained economic growth and business success… businesses must be able to draw from local communities that are adequately preparing people for the rigors of the modern economy, regardless of race or class.”
Williams continued reading, underscoring, “Employers need talent and talent needs access.”
PROGRESS AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Williams then introduced Jeff Fuhrer, Executive Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who gave a valuable, insightful, and empathetic presentation about the bifurcation of the U.S. economy.
Acknowledging that there are economic challenges the country faces, Fuhrer said, “If we’re successful in addressing them, we grow the size of the economic pie for everyone. If we don’t address challenges, we lose a tremendous amount of human and economic potential.”
He continued by noting, “We have plenty of aggregate income and wealth—the way it’s being distributed is puzzling.” He added, “When folks become involved in the economy, they generate more income. Having equal income is a good thing. It is not sufficient to close wealth gaps.”
Fuhrer questioned, “Does success for one segment imply losses for another?” His answer was an emphatic “No!” According to Fuhrer, “If we succeed in improving human capital for low-income populations, the size of the economic pie increases.”
Fuhrer talked about solutions to the nation’s economic challenges, emphasizing, “Data is the only way to tell if what you’re doing is making an impact.” Creating solutions also means tracking outcomes and recognizing that “you’re learning as you go, which enables you to stop doing something that’s not working.”
To provide solutions, Fuhrer said, “We have to build sustainable collaborations—including, critically, the residents. To make a difference in [disparate] communities they need to be part of the collaborative from the beginning.”
Kate Baumann, who recently joined the Alliance as Chief Investor Relations Officer, appreciated the engaging event and the positive response from attendees. “To find solutions for creating inclusive communities, we need to collaborate,” she noted. “The event was another positive step in this direction.”
For more information on Alliance programs, be sure to check our events calendar.
Interested in becoming a MetroHartford Alliance investor?
Find out about investor levels and benefits