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Greater Des Moines Joins Partnership with Networks of Cities to Generate Inclusive Economic Growth

October 11, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Brookings Metro and the Center for Economic Inclusion announced today the official launch of the Regional Inclusive Growth Network (RIGN), a collaborative learning and action network that seeks to catalyze local businesses and stakeholders to advance more racially equitable local economies and close regional wealth gaps. 

The Network, made possible by generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will support coalitions in eight small and mid-sized cities that applied and were competitively selected. Network members have committed to an 18-month collaborative process aimed at developing goals, capabilities, practices, and strategic investments that center economic and racial inclusion as key economic objectives in these regions. 

Research by Brookings and others has documented the challenges and opportunities facing small- and midsized cities, amid the effects of a severe pandemic, historic economic crisis, and social and racial reckoning. These events have collectively reinforced the need for local leaders to design and implement policies and practices that generate inclusive economic growth. Multi-sector coalitions, such as those selected for this Network, are critical for channeling the impact and resources of the private sector toward scaled, sustainable, and equitable economic development strategies.

Together, Brookings Metro and the Center for Economic Inclusion, will work with these partners in eight cities to support the conditions for inclusive economic growth, help these coalitions further develop their civic role, and catalyze private sector change. The network will undertake exchange and learning on a range of topics and will be anchored by local business’s completion of the Racial Equity Dividends Index, a comprehensive analytical tool developed by the Center for Economic Inclusion to help businesses measure their progress towards building racially equitable and inclusive workplaces.

The eight organizations and/or partnerships selected include:

  • Akron, Ohio - Greater Akron Chamber
  • Birmingham, Alabama - Prosper
  • Des Moines, Iowa - United Way of Central Iowa and the Greater Des Moines Partnership
  • Richmond, Virginia - ChamberRVA and Greater Richmond Partnership
  • St. Louis, Missouri - Greater St. Louis, Inc.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio - Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
  • New Orleans, Louisiana - Urban League of Louisiana
  • Kansas City, Missouri - KC Rising and the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City

“Many of America’s small- and mid-sized cities have struggled to achieve inclusive economic growth: economic progress that generates higher wages and employment and reduces longstanding disparities by race and place. We’ve learned that success requires building multi-sector coalitions that can marshal collective commitment, capacity, and investment to achieve equitable development at a meaningful scale,” said Alan Berube, Interim Vice President and Director of Brookings Metro. “Brookings Metro looks forward to partnering with the Center for Economic Inclusion and leaders from these eight cities to advance this important work.”

“The future of America’s economy rests on the ability of employers in regions like these to maximize the talent of Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latino people in the workforce and supply chains to accelerate economic mobility. The economic benefits of uprooting racism are undeniable. By giving business leaders and policymakers the tools to do so, we can dramatically widen pathways to economic mobility for all people and improve regional economic growth and competitiveness,” said Tawanna A. Black, Founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion. “The Center for Economic Inclusion is honored to partner with Brookings Metro to fuel the commitments of these eight cities to build racially equitable, resilient, and prosperous economies.”

Erin Raftery

Julie Schultz Brown

About Brookings Metro

The Brookings Institution is committed to quality, independence, and impact. Brookings Metro collaborates with local leaders to transform original research insights into policy and practical solutions that scale nationally. To learn more, please visit brookings.edu/metro.

Center for Economic Inclusion

The Center for Economic Inclusion is the nation’s first organization dedicated exclusively to equipping public and private sector employers and policy makers to close racial employment, income, and wealth gaps and catalyze inclusive economic growth. The Center is a think and do tank committed to accelerating systemic change. To learn more, please visit centerforeconomicinclusion.org.