Cities and Businesses of Color: A Guide to Economic Growth

CA5 Implementation Guide

Cities and Businesses of Color: A Guide to Economic Growth

CA5 Implementation Guide

When we launched the City Accelerator in 2015, our goal was to foster partnerships between philanthropy and local government to drive innovation in cities as a means to help tackle some of their most pressing challenges and improve the lives of low-income residents. Since then, approximately 30 cities across the US have collaborated to address topics ranging from inclusive procurement practices to embedding innovation in local government systems. Even as the City Accelerator has always strived to focus on essential issues, it is perhaps now – in a world grappling with the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and confronting the impacts of systemic racism – that the learnings from the most recent City Accelerator cohort are most timely and needed. The theme of the fifth cohort of the City Accelerator was ‘Local Business and Job Growth’ with an intentional focus on building support for firms owned by people of color.

For over a year, the cities of El Paso, Long Beach, Newark, Rochester, and Atlanta came together to learn how to apply a racial equity lens to municipal economic development systems and refocus their work on developing more inclusive small business ecosystems as a way to meaningfully support entrepreneurs of color in their communities. The learnings shared in this guide from the various initiatives come at a critical moment as small businesses everywhere, but especially those owned by people of color, are struggling to survive due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 while also confronting the very real and lasting consequences of systemic racism.

As communities across the country consider how to make recovery efforts more equitable for residents of color, we hope the lessons learned, case studies, and strategies in the following pages can empower them to create solutions that close racial income gaps and encourage entrepreneurship. It must be noted that this work would have not been as impactful or as successful if the cities worked in a vacuum.

Throughout their time in the City Accelerator, participating cities partnered with local business owners, universities, community-based organizations, financial institutions, and others to ensure the creation of a sustainable small business ecosystem that would be supportive of firms owned by people color. Witnessing the inspiring work built through these cross-sector partnerships, along with the cities of different sizes, geographies and challenges, has been a powerful reminder that when we work together, we can produce real and systemic positive change.





More Resources

Internal Scan: Racial Equity and Inclusion Competency Survey Results 2021

On June 15, 2021 Living Cities administered our fifth annual Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) competency survey to all staff to reflect on their individual competency related to understanding and advancing racial equity. The survey was originally designed by Hafizah Omar, with feedback and input from Nadia Owusu and Ratna Gill. The questions from this survey were adapted from GARE’s …

Systemic Racism 101: A Visual History of the Impact of Racism in America

Systemic Racism 101: A Visual History of the Impact of Racism in America Book by: Living Cities and Aminah Pilgrim Purchase today:  In collaboration with historian Aminah Pilgram, PhD, we break down concepts of systemic racism, starting with Columbus’ arrival in 1492 to the Black Lives Matter movement. This book offers historical overviews, infographics, and more to help you …

Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund 2021 Annual Report

This report summarizes Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund’s (BCF) activities during its sixth year of operations, from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021 (FY21). During this fiscal year, the BCF Team fully committed the Fund as of March 31, 2021 reaching 26 investments totaling $33.5MM. The latter half of the BCF investments have been aligned with the iterated investment …

Answering the Call: Implementing the Promise of Equity in Procurement

The second City Accelerator cohort on Inclusive Procurement invited ten cities–Boston, Cleveland, El Paso, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and South Bend–to leverage their spending power and procurement systems to create greater and more equitable economic opportunity for Black and Brown-owned businesses. Throughout a year that included a global pandemic and racial justice uprisings in response to the …

Get Updates

We want to stay in touch with you! Sign up for our email list to receive updates on the progress we’re making with our network of partners, as well as helpful resources and blog posts.