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Develop This: Economic and Community Development

Sep 30, 2020

Tracye McDaniel and Jaclyn Le with TIP Strategies join Dennis for a thought-provoking discussion on equity and inclusion in this economic environment.  See below for expanded show notes.

TIP Strategies

Connect with Tracye McDaniel

Connect with Jaclyn Le



  • In today’s rapidly changing demographic, social, and economic environment, the need for equity and inclusion in economic development programs is particularly urgent.
  • COVID-19, the current economic crisis, and national uprisings have altered life in every community and called greater attention towards racial and economic justice.
  • If the economic development field does not take a more proactive approach to addressing racial inequity, then we run the risk of failing to meet our goals of improving our communities and fostering economic vitality.
  • Traditional approaches to economic development have not benefited all populations — and, in many cases, the policies and programs have neglected or even shortchanged people of color, immigrants and low-income communities.


  • Equity – Providing fair access to resources and opportunity while eliminating systemic barriers that prevent full economic participation.
  • Inclusion – Creating an economy in which every individual and group is valued and able to fully contribute to your community’s economic vitality.
  • Under-resourced communities – communities that have been historically marginalized and excluded from economic opportunity because of their race or class. Specifically, this includes communities of color and low-income residents. While there is some overlap between these two groups, it is important to recognize that they are not synonymous with each other.

How has COVID-19 exacerbated inequality? 

  • Inequality and exclusion existed in our communities before covid-19, but the emergence of this virus and the subsequent economic crisis have exacerbated existing disparities, especially among under-resourced populations.
    • The impacts of coronavirus create a negative feedback loop that makes inequality even worse.
      • Lower incomes è chronic health conditions è increased vulnerability to COVID-19
      • More often impacted by loss of income and healthcare due to quarantines and business closures
      • More likely to be employed in essential worker jobs which increase potential exposure to the virus
      • Contribute to the widening socio-economic divide.
    • TIP has developed an occupational risk tool that measures job-related risk during the COVID-19 crisis on 2 dimensions: risk to personal health and risk to personal earnings
      • 40% of workers in the US are in jobs with a high risk to earnings and a high risk to personal health
      • Across all the major metro regions, Black, Latinx, and younger workers face a disproportionate level of risk
      • Furthermore, 83% of workers facing the greatest risk earn less than $20/hr
      • What this shows us is how fragile and tenuous are economy was pre-covid for Black and Latinx communities – Covid didn’t create this inequality. It has always been there, but now it’s exposed more now than ever.
      • A version of the tool is available on our website—so you can go online and explore the data for the large metro regions in the US

 How have national uprisings and racial justice movement affected economic development?

  • National uprisings in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others has broadened awareness about racial injustice across numerous social and economic issues
  • There’s a tendency for economic development to see the uprisings and racial justice movement as a social issue that may not be related to our work.
  • That’s fundamentally not true. Systemic racism is also an economic issue. It directly relates to economic development.
  • We need to explicitly address racial equity in our work. For too long, Black and Latinx residents have been locked out of opportunity – everything from education to jobs and more.
  • Prior to Covid, we were in a period of extensive growth and prosperity. Economic developers played a part in that growth, but the rising tide didn’t lift all boats. Communities of color, in particular, did not experience the benefits that others did.
  • There’s a tendency to want to “stay in our lane,” but if we don’t address racial inequity, then many people in our communities will not be able to benefit from the economic opportunities we are working to create. This will also reduce our communities’ competitiveness, especially as public expectations shift, and the private sector is also held accountable.