The Brandeis study on the wealth gap between whites and blacks is important data that requires critical attention and action.
Lost opportunities for small and minority businesses to develop wealth isn’t the only outcome we experience when we outsource development projects to non-profit development companies. If the abysmal drop in the number of small and minority developers in this city wasn’t telling enough, development, particularly for housing, should serve a broad spectrum of incomes to catalyze growth and a path out of poverty. That development shouldn’t assume or set expectations that neighborhoods of color will always be on the bottom economic rung!
Any planning process that ignores the state of the surrounding educational system, with no vision to move forward, is doomed. Let’s face it: the quality of the school system, or lack of it, motivates people. That motivation drives folks, black and white, out of the city of Boston to places where schools are better. This migration in search of better schools is class based.
Those who can afford to move do so, while those who cannot stay put. Planning and development based on static conditions is rarely positive or sustainable. And why is education never seen as part of or an impact to driving the needed economic mobility that is sustainable and fundamental to successful development plans?
Small and minority businesses are more apt to recognize and make use of the local work force. This bodes well for neighborhoods of color. These organizations are also adept at identifying educational and training deficiencies and helping to correct them.
Rather than setting expectations with a development policy that many in neighborhoods of color will remain poor, we should be building the human capital and capability to ensure the economic sustainability and viability of these neighborhoods! This is best done by small and minority businesses taking the lead role in development.
Jackson Square CAC Chairman