After last week’s unrest in Baltimore, there is a renewed call for more economic development in America. Politicians on both sides are saying that what’s been going is not working. However, they seem to be at a loss when comes to laying out a new strategy.
What’s missing is any discussion about the decline of business ownerships by the residents of the inner city. Economic Development needs to be recalibrated so that it’s not just about marquee development projects likes malls.
There was a lot of discussion about the “missing black men” over the weekend. On the other hand, there was nothing about the missing black businesses. Blacks owned businesses during the days of the “Jim Crow” South. Remember, necessity is the mother or at the very least catalyst of entrepreneurship.
The majority of Americans celebrate entrepreneurship except when it comes to inner city youth. These young people are vilified for participating in the only kind of local commerce available to them. Their initiative criminalized and their character is described as thuggish.
Putting up new malls and river front redevelopment hasn’t increased the number of new businesses anywhere in this country. Gentrification can lead to an increase in the number of owner/operators in a given neighborhood. However, gentrification is more likely to lead to urban displacement.
Makerspace Development by its very nature leads to business ownership. Makerspaces are places where people can bring in a project that they have researched and by hard work turn that project into a business. They can also bring their kids in and show them them the value of hard work.