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Forbes highlights Holifield’s ‘Inclusive Competitiveness’

Forbes highlights Holifield’s ‘Inclusive Competitiveness’

Forbes highlights Holifield’s ‘Inclusive Competitiveness’

Johnathan Holifield is America’s only Vice President of Inclusive Competitiveness.

Johnathan Holifield - SXSWedu - SABB - thumbnail Holifield holds that distinction at Nortech, a tech-based economic development powerhouse covering 21 counties in Northeast Ohio. Nortech is leading the nation in establishing models for technology and economic inclusion frameworks that discover, invest in and cultivate all of the region’s assets to boost the overall economic competitiveness of Northeast Ohio.

Holifield, a co-founder of The America21 Project, will sit on a panel on March4 at SXSWedu in Austin, Texas, organized by fellow America21 co-founder Mike Green. Chad Womack, PhD, rounds out the trio of America21 co-founders setting the stage at SXSWedu for an introduction into 21st century inclusive competitiveness ideals that underscore the focus of the panel session, Saving America’s Black Boys (SABB).

In addition to Holifield and Womack (National Director of STEM Education and Director of Merck Fellows Program at the United Negro College Fund), panelists also include Grammy award-winning music producer-turned-tech-entrepreneur Jermaine Dupri, and businessman Jim Staton, the Managing Partner at Top Flight LLC in Charlotte, NC whose story of entrepreneurial success starting as the son of sharecroppers is insightful and inspiring.

Holifield will provide the keynote address at the day-long SABB Solutions Summit on March 5 at the George Washington Carver Museum in Austin.

The Saving America’s Black Boys (SABB) Solutions Summit is an invitation-only gathering of City of Austin and University of Texas leaders and other local and regional policymakers, K-12 educators, business owners and entrepreneurs, community leaders, investors, celebrity entertainers and pro athletes. The SABB Solutions Summit and National Campaign evolved from a partnership between Mike Green, co-founder of America21, and the nonprofit Houston-based organization, Game Changerz, founded by its President, Tammara McDonald, and co-led by Vice President Diatra James. Top Flight LLC provides strategic consulting and fundraising for the SABB Campaign.

The SABB Solutions Summit is sponsored by the Portland Development Commission, City of Austin, Texas and the George Washington Carver Museum. The summit is designed to introduce a visionary framework for developing inclusive processes that build infrastructure in disconnected communities and connect Black youth to local and region innovation ecosystems and economic opportunity.

The SABB Solutions Summit will call to action a collaborative leadership and work with them to establish a permanent Urban Innovation Roundtable that will develop strategies and plans that result in a generational Pipeline2Productivity framework. The development of this vital economic ecosystem is not solely the responsibility of Black leaders and influencers; it is a 21st century national economic imperative for America.

The Saving America’s Black Boys Solutions Summit in Austin, Texas is the first in a series that is part of a national campaign. Holifield’s address will be particularly poignant, given his distinction as the nation’s leading voice on Inclusive Competitiveness. Holifield was featured in a Forbes article published on Feb. 15, 2013 by Forbes writer, Rebecca Bagley.

Rebecca O. Bagley is CEO of Nortech in Cleveland, Ohio

Rebecca O. Bagley is CEO of Nortech in Cleveland, Ohio

Rebecca O. Bagley, the CEO and visionary leader of Nortech, is a regular contributor to Forbes magazine on issues pertaining to regional industry clusters that create jobs. Her latest feature in Forbes (Feb. 15, 2013) focuses in on the Tech Inclusion Roundtable established by the White House and the framework it will inevitably employ in targeted regions across America, which were developed by Nortech’s Vice President of Inclusive Competitiveness, Johnathan Holifield.

An excerpt appears below. The entire piece is available at Forbes.

One of America’s great strengths is its diversity. There are few, if any, countries in the world that can claim a workforce as diverse, innovative and driven. Our talent pool is rich in culture, language and ideas that have made the U.S. the world’s leader in the development of new technologies. But here’s the thing: We are not reaching our full potential. Why? Because not every member of our society has equal access to the innovation economy.

For the U.S. to sustain and grow its competitiveness in a constantly changing global market, we need to make sure we leverage the diversity of our workforce. Thankfully, a national dialogue on inclusive economic competitiveness is emerging.

More than 200 inclusion thought leaders from the business, non-profit, government, education and tech worlds recently met at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. They discussed how we can ensure all Americans, including those from underserved and underrepresented communities, have the opportunity to successfully compete in the technology sector of our economy.

These leaders came together at the invitation of the White House Offices of Public Engagement and Science and Technology Policy, and the Level Playing Field Institute, for the first Tech Inclusion Summit. The event followed last year’s Tech Inclusion Roundtable, where business leaders, educators and students brainstormed ways to broaden the tech talent pool and increase the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Participants in these two events share a common belief that a diverse talent base in the technology fields spurs American innovation and leads to creative new applications of technology that improve social and economic well-being. But they also know there exists a minority gap in the technology sector that must be addressed.

Five private-sector initiatives introduced at the Tech Summit aim to do just that. One of them stood out to me because of its relevance to my work in regional economic development. The “Accelerate Local Communities” initiative plans to encourage mayors to host tech inclusion roundtables to bring together NGOs, public organizations and private companies to build more vibrant, diverse and competitive innovation economies.

“Local governments have largely ceded regional economic competitiveness strategies to third parties that often fail to tie these strategies to overall community prosperity, leaving many African Americans and Latinos disconnected,” NorTech Vice President of Inclusiveness Competitiveness Jonathan Holifield says. “Now is the time for urban leaders to devise innovation economy strategies.”

Mr. Holifield, who attended the Tech Inclusion Summit, joined NorTech last summer to take charge of our efforts to increase the competitiveness of African Americans and Latinos in Northeast Ohio’s innovation ecosystem, clusters and emerging industry sectors. So, what are some strategies that can give minorities access to the innovation economy assets right in their backyards?

Mr. Holifield, who co-founded The America21 Project, has spent years pondering this question and has proposed several steps urban leaders can take:

  1. Analyze your city’s innovation economy assets to understand your ecosystem, competitive advantages and how new linkages can be made to minority and underserved populations.

  2. Provide city hall leadership and support for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, creating an inclusive culture that embraces entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.

  3. Provide tax incentives to create locally-managed angel funds and seed and early-stage capital focused on minority high-growth entrepreneurs.

  4. Support STEM and entrepreneurship education in your K-12 system and ensure colleges and universities have robust lifelong learning strategies that reach and serve all parts of the local community.

  5. Support local university and corporate research and development, providing resources to ensure minority and underserved residents are prepared to access new jobs in research laboratories, an “under the radar” workforce development opportunity.

  6. Demonstrate that inclusion and innovation begin at home by adopting inclusive technology services procurement policies at city hall.

  7. Establish an Innovation Economy Advisory Board, comprised of key players in the innovation community as well as minority-serving organizations and entrepreneurs within the executive function of city government to oversee city funding, promotion and facilitation of new tech inclusion investments, projects and programs.

Read Rebecca Bagley’s piece in its entirety at Forbes.

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