Powering Inclusive Economies: New Innovation Growth Network

January 30, 2019 | Powering Inclusive Economies: New Innovation Growth Network | By Dionne Baux, Director of Urban Programs at the National Main Street Center |
Wednesday-136-1030x686.jpgPhoto credit: New Growth Innovation Network

Happy New Year Readers, we hope you’ve enjoyed past issues of UrbanMain’s Neighborhood News and welcome you to join us in 2019 as we continue to analyze trends affecting urban districts across the country, highlight innovative solutions communities and cities are developing together, and celebrate the return of urban neighborhood commercial districts as economic drivers. Our urban districts create community wealth, provide inclusive areas for independent and local entrepreneurs, and fulfill the day-to-day needs of residents (e.g. groceries, dry cleaners, drug store, flowers, hardware, etc.).

As these districts increasingly become communities of choice, local revitalization professionals and national experts are feeling the pressure to ensure that revitalization efforts are balanced  -- bringing in new investment that seeks to preserve the history and culture of places without pushing out existing residents and independent business owners. To that end, we seek to build partnerships and learn best practices from places across the country to share these lessons with our network of Main Street practitioners.

In November 2018, Dionne Baux, Director of Urban Programs at NMSC, participated in the New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN), a practitioner-led national organization working to accelerate inclusive growth practices. In this piece, Dionne highlights some of the sessions she attended and provides examples of innovative projects and partnerships from across the country that are driving economic growth through inclusion.

“The rationale for new models of economic growth – whether labeled inclusive growth, quality growth, equitable growth or sustainable growth – is becoming more widespread.  Yet the conversation about direction is running far ahead of the invention of tools, techniques and practices that will take us from talking about growth differently to doing growth differently. NGIN provides disciplined practice and product innovation as well as expertise and resources to practitioners and communities.  It also serves a thought center to help leadership implement this new approach to driving economic growth.”

Photo credit: New Growth Innovation Network

I thoroughly enjoyed a multitude of sessions while participating at NGIN’s convening and would like to highlight a few sessions that I found increasingly relevant based on feedback I am receiving from managers of urban Main Streets:

New Approaches to Neighborhoods: Opportunity, Choice and Regional Connections – Maurice Jones, President and CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, led attendees through a discussion to begin surfacing solutions around the following questions:

  • How can neighborhoods better align neighborhood strategies with regional growth?
  • How can organizations help build the capacity of neighborhoods to build regional growth?
  • How can we better anticipate and prevent displacement in neighborhood and regional growth?

Photo credit: New Growth Innovation Network

Inclusive Clusters -- Betsy Biermann, CEO of Coaster Enterprises, highlighted innovative cluster projects that realize cluster organizations are a key vehicle for wealth creation and economic growth in our economy.  In her examples, Betsy showcased how project strategies can be enhanced by deliberately ensuring that disadvantaged people, firms, and places seize these opportunities, meet emerging market demand, and drive cluster growth.

One featured project was the Cortex Innovation Community. This 200-acre innovation hub and technology district in St. Louis, Missouri’s historic Central West End and Forest Park Southeast residential neighborhood is committed to ensuring that the benefits of economic growth, new investment, and job creation in the district extend to all segments of its innovation hub.  Formed in 2002 by Washington University in St. Louis, BIC Healthcare, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the project serves as an anchor of St. Louis’s growing ecosystem for innovative start-up programs and established companies.  Cortex’s inclusive commitment to the region spans from participatory opportunities related to construction and permanent jobs to entrepreneurship and education. 


Photo credit: Nine Net

  • Construction: As part of a Tax Increment Financing District in the City of St. Louis, construction projects within the Cortex are subject to two City requirements related to diversity and inclusions:
    • Mayor’s Executive Order #28 set goals for the inclusion for Minority-Owned and Women- Owned Business Enterprises (MBEs and WBES) on development project-teams: 25% participation by MBEs and 5% percent participation by WBES.
    • Louis City Ordinance No. 69427 relates to construction workforce diversity. Projects in Cortex valued at $1 million or more are expected to meet the following workforce participation goals during construction: 25% of labor hours are performed by minorities; 5% percent of labor hours are performed by women; 20% labor hours are to be performed by City residents; and 15% of all hours are to be performed by apprentices enrolled in an approved training program.

  • Permanent Job Opportunities: Cortez’s master plan anticipates that up to 13,000 district jobs can be created over two decades – new jobs will include researchers, entrepreneurs, technicians, managers, office support, retail, restaurant, and property services. Research parks generally provide a broad continuum of job opportunities in various fields. Cortex indicates that a mature research park will feature job opportunities for the following types of workers: 40% of employees with high school and or associate degrees, 40% with bachelor’s degrees, and 20% with master’s and Ph.D.’s which will provide a place of opportunity for all.

  • Entrepreneurs: Cortex is committed to building community capacity through coordinated educational, training and entrepreneurial initiatives in collaboration with regional partners. As an example, Cortex is engaged with the Louis Public School District’s new Collegiate Medical and Bioscience High School, a grade 9-12 magnet school that emphasizes a STEM curriculum with a special focus on career paths in the medical and research professions. The new magnet school offers a career path for students who one day may be an employee or tech business owner within the CORTEX Innovation Community.

Photo credit: Brownstoner

Plenary: Development Finance, Impact Investment and Philanthropy for a New Inclusive / Quality Growth Practice -- Tim Ferguson, Founder and Chairman of Next Street, walked attendees through NGIN’s inherent focus on driving economic growth and wealth creation.  Projects highlighted in this session are at the leading edge of the market and are working hard to drive growth through inclusion. Panelists enlightened participants on how they carefully tailored and structured financial products, or in some cases, layers of subsidies. 

The Brooklyn Navy Yard, or “the Yard,” is an example of a mission-driven industrial park that is a nationally acclaimed model of the viability and positive impact of modern, urban industrial development. Once the nation's most storied naval shipbuilding facility, which for over 150 years built and launched America's most famous fighting ships, including the USS Maine, USS Arizona, and USS Missouri, the Yard is now home to over 400 businesses employing more than 7,000 people and generating over $2 billion per year in economic impact for the City. Building on the Yard's history as the economic heart of Brooklyn, the 300-acre waterfront asset offers a critical pathway to the middle class for many New Yorkers.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) is the not-for-profit corporation that serves as the real estate developer and property manager of the Yard on behalf of its owner, the City of New York. BNYDC constantly strives to provide an environment where businesses and careers can take root and grow. Through its public programming, the Yard also continues to honor and preserve its rich history as a point of passage, home, and workplace for countless veterans.   

We are honored to be a member of this new network and look forward to working with national leaders on designing, testing, replicating, and scaling new inclusive growth practices. Stay tuned for more updates on NGIN throughout the year! In the meantime, get involved and learn more about the New Growth Innovation Network, its members and partners here: https://newgrowth.org/