Obama’s Urban Agenda: An Economic Engine for the Nation - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

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In a conference call today, Michael Coleman, mayor of Columbus, Ohio, addressed Obama’s plan for urban renewal with Earl G. Graves Sr., publisher of Black Enterprise magazine. Jobs, foreclosures, and health insurance were the areas that Coleman identified as major challenges in Columbus neighborhoods.

Cities house more than 80% of the people, businesses, universities, and cultural institutions in America, and represent 80% of the Gross Domestic Product.

“The reason why the [urban agenda] is important is because we are in the most challenging economic times we’ve seen since the depression,” Coleman says. “It is clear that Obama understands that metropolitan areas are tremendous economic engines. If you have an impact on the metropolitan areas, you have an impact on the nation.”

Coleman says that one part of the Obama urban agenda is to create business incubators to promote increased access to capital for minority businesses and establish public and private incubators to help design businesses. “You’ve got to create business in a time of economic challenge. It is the best way to create jobs,” Coleman says.

Less than 1%  of the $250 billion in venture capital dollars invested annually nationwide has been directed to the country’s 4.4 million minority business owners. A recent study found that minority business owners, even if they have the same characteristics as other business owners, are denied credit much more frequently and are required to pay higher interest rates than white applicants.

“We are experiencing an economic crisis. It is not new. In the black community, it has been at a crisis level for some time now,” Coleman says. Since 2001, when George Bush and Dick Cheney came into office, the Black community has lost 500,000 jobs. Right now the unemployment rate for the Black community is 11.6%.

“On the economy, McCain just doesn’t get it,” Graves says. “We have been losing jobs faster than we’ve been gaining them. Sen. Obama has a policy to turn that around. McCain’s tax plans leave out working Americans struggling to make ends meet.”

Coleman says that there are stark differences between McCain and Obama, but found that McCain’s policies are similar to those executed over the past eight years, which ushered in the neglect of urban communities. McCain has repeatedly voted against the community development block grants, a program that Obama supports and George Bush tried to eliminate.” These grants provide vital funds for affordable housing and economic development activities and improving urban infrastructure,” Graves says.

Obama’s plan also promises to create a White House Office of Urban Policy, make public transportation available and affordable so that low income workers can get to jobs, increase the minimum wage to ensure that companies keep pace with inflation, require employers to provide sick leave to employees, and end tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs overseas.

“Whether or not you’re talking about Columbus, Ohio, Harlem, or somewhere in the Deep South, the cities

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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