There are two interconnected movements happening in the
Bruce Corrie of
University, St. Paul, the following two movements, while
associated with very different proponents, are
The Black Lives Matter
movement, which Corrie said, is "very much alive in
Minnesota." He said behind the movement is "a situation
of economic depletion of assets" and a lot of
frustration at not being able to achieve the American
The Tea Party movement,
which he said reflects a lot of economic and cultural
anxiety about the future.
At the core
level, these are some of the groups of Americans being
left out of the system.
Corrie said if we do nothing about groups that are being
left out of the system, there will be a permanent
underclass. "That is a threat to our economic
competitiveness, because it's at a time when we need every
single working American to be at the highest skill level
in order to be globally competitive."
The issue of
equality is becoming very pertinent all around the world.
Corrie asked whether nations and the world can survive
with inequality. "Can we afford to have the big gaps
between the haves and the have-nots? Do the have-nots have
the ability to climb the economic ladder and how quickly?"
He said that
if some of the big players in the world economy, such as
China and India, don't address the issue of the people at
the bottom, the top will be destabilized, which would put
the world's future at risk.
demographic squeeze going on in
Corrie said the demographic squeeze is not happening
tomorrow or in five or 10 years; it's happening now. The
squeeze is the slowing of growth in the labor force, while
the number of jobs is expanding.
2,500 new white workers were added to the state's labor
force from 2007 to 2013. Meanwhile, the growth in what
Corrie calls ALANA workers (African, Latino, Asian and
Native American) was over 78,000.
At the same
time, Corrie said, black, Latino, Native American, Hmong
and Mexican communities experienced an economic squeeze,
reflected in a significant decline in their economic
assets. These declining assets include income, home equity
levels, home ownership and employment, combined with low
education levels. Native Americans had the sharpest
decline among all groups during this time period.
the ALANA population with the rest of the state's
population should be the fundamental economic priority of
because we are increasingly going to need these workers.
Corrie said equity can be viewed in two ways: closing the
gap in economic equality and building the assets of the
ALANA communities. "If we have a significant percentage of
our labor force poorly prepared for the 21st century
economy because of the large achievement gaps, how can we
compete globally?" he asked. "If we have a significant
percentage of the population with low economic assets, how
can we build wealth and create good-paying jobs?"
Greater MSP has talked to a number of Minnesota employers
who reported having a hard time retaining a diverse
workforce of highly skilled, highly technical, young,
professional millennials. No one is sure of the reason, he
then-Governor Jesse Ventura appointed Corrie to serve as
chair of a working group on minority business development.
The group's report produced the first look at minority
businesses in Minnesota and documented these groups as
what Corrie called "ethnic capital." He said the report
drew lots of visibility in the community to the economic
contributions of immigrants and minorities. At that time,
less than one percent of state contracts went to
minority-owned businesses. He said that has not changed
much over time.
from a deficit mode to an asset mode.
Corrie said the ALANA communities, despite experiencing an
economic squeeze, continued to fuel the economic engine in
Minnesota. Their spending power in the Minnesota economy
in 2013 (calculated at 75 percent of total income) was
more than $11 billion and they paid an estimated $1.7
billion in Minnesota taxes.
commented that he has been trying to spread the word for
over 16 years about the economic contributions of
immigrants and minorities in Minnesota. He said people
tend to think of these communities as deficits and not
integral to the economy. "But what if we were to think of
them as economic assets?" he asked. He noted that, while
still small in overall numbers, the growth in the number
of minority-owned firms, along with the firms' growth in
sales and in jobs, has been much larger than the growth in
non-minority firms in recent years.
He said his
discussion of the issue of immigrants and minorities as
economic assets "has basically gone on deaf ears among the
policy elite in the state. The only people who resonate to
my articulation of the data are the people I'm talking
about. They see that an economist in a mainstream
institution is affirming that they are important economic
assets to the state. They're used to hearing that they are
a deficit or a problem."
start from the classroom and improve the learning
last legislative session, did you hear of any education
funding going to improve the classroom learning
environment?" he asked. "Education begins between the
student and the teacher. I want my kids to be passionate
about science and about math. If I lose my kids in middle
school in science and math, their track is a
burger-flipper job. Small classrooms with applied learning
can make a difference in the way kids learn."
We need a
shared understanding that growing the education and
business pipeline for the minority community is an
important priority for Minnesota's future.
"What can we
do to grow the pipeline?" Corrie asked. We must have
institutions in place that work for people at the bottom,
he said. The entire system now is structured for
organizations with large bureaucracies. It needs to work
for people starting home-based businesses and other small
businesses. We must focus on how the state is spending its
money and determine how to use it better.
fund state-of-the-art math and science curriculum and
teaching in Minnesota.
asserted we are losing the kids in math and science. "I
don't see enough done in the school systems," he said. "We
want all the teachers to be good."
interviewer said students represent the demand side and
teachers the supply side. The demand side is weak if kids
don't come to school or aren't ready to learn. "What can
the Legislature do to tackle this fundamental deficiency
that concentrates in certain schools and school
districts?" the interviewer asked.
credits to parents for active involvement in the schools.
Family backgrounds and the motivation of low-income
parents and kids are a challenge, Corrie responded, asking
how we could provide parents incentives to be involved in
their children's education. He proposed an economic
incentive system, especially in low-income areas, that
could give a tax credit for active parental involvement in
the schools. As it is now, many parents have to choose
between going to a parent-teacher meeting or working. He
asserted that Asian students are successful because their
parents are spending at least 20 minutes a day helping
their children with homework. "Yes, it will take the whole
village to educate the child and we should go beyond blame
to action," he said.
analyze our economic development structure to see what
opportunities it's expanding and for whom.
we should be doing all of the following things,
represented by the oft-repeated "Give a man a fish"
metaphor: (1) give people a fish; (2) teach people how to
fish; (3) give them a place to fish; (4) give people a
chance to transform the fishing industry; and (5) offer
help in creating new fish. He said our economic
development structure is only doing the first two things
in the list, not the last three.
But he said
the good news is that there are a lot of new models, such
as crowd funding of new products and equity crowd funding
in the new MNvest program, which connects small businesses
with small investors. These might open up new avenues for
people with entrepreneurial ideas.
been good at expanding opportunities for ALANA
businesses," Corrie said. "Because of the history of
racism in the country, we can't put minority businesses in
the same box as other businesses. They come to the table
with different historical experiences that call for
cultural intelligence in relating to their needs."
A lot of
people are not aware of the way the system gives them an
edge because they're part of the dominant culture.
people who are in power get the benefit," Corrie said.
"Knowingly or unknowingly, they want to preserve that
privilege. These people might not be aware of the
advantage they get belonging to that elite group. It
provides an edge into opportunities that other people may
interviewer asked what we could do about this in
Corrie said the answer must come from the people who live
North Minneapolis, based on their values. "They should
reject everything that people give them," he said, "and
find out the strength of their own assets and rebuild the
community. That's where the lasting solution will come,
because now they would create their own community. We
shouldn't put additional barriers around them. Allow that
community to grow. I see the constellation of forces is
there to give North Minneapolis the maximum chance to be
successful: state, corporate and city leaders are all
saying 'What can we do?' I hope the whole village seizes
people in North Minneapolis should take charge of their
own destiny with the strength of their own cultural
resources. They should define what success is, how they're
going to get it and then choose what they need from the
outside. "You don't want economic development being done
to people," Corrie said. "You want the people to create
their own economic development strategy." He stated that
an insight he's developed from around the world is that
when people take charge of their own destiny, authentic
development can occur.
We need to
be able to measure the economic assets in Minneapolis
neighborhoods over time.
we should determine what the economic assets are in each
precinct in Minneapolis at various points in time. Then
when elections come around, voters can judge whether those
assets have grown in their own precincts under the
leadership of various public officials. He stressed the
importance of leadership at the neighborhood level.
specific strategies the Minnesota Legislature could adopt
to build a stronger workforce in Minnesota and address the
challenges of equity.
to a question from an interviewer on what these strategies
could be, Corrie submitted a paper outlining some
strategic areas, with specific policy recommendations. His
paper is linked