Two national initiatives are designed to encourage more inclusive and equitable economic development within cities.

The Equitable Economic Development Fellowship (EED) from the National League of Cities (NLC), PolicyLInk and the Urban Land Institute is a two-year effort to help equity, transparency, sustainability and community engagement become driving forces in local economic development efforts. With support from the Surdna Foundation and Open Societies Foundation, NLC and its partners are providing technical assistance to cities “to help them pursue more equitable and inclusive economic development policies and programs in traditionally underserved communities.”

Participating cities select an issue or project designed to encourage inclusive economic growth. National experts and fellows from each of the other cities provide technical assistance and recommendations in a peer learning environment. Topics in the first year covered capital access, worker co-ops, economic mobility, meeting the needs of underserved neighborhoods, and creating opportunities from vacant or foreclosed properties in distressed communities.

Boston, Charlotte, Houston, Memphis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis formed the first cohort. You can learn about their experiences from the EED series on NLC’s CitiesSpeak blog and by registering here for the NLC Equitable Economic Development Fellowship webinar, 4:00 EDT on September 14.

The National League of Cities has begun work with the second cohort, including Austin, Baltimore, Louisville, Nashville, Phoenix and Sacramento. Smart Incentives advisor Dr. Darrene Hackler is participating as an adjunct fellow with the Sacramento team, which is focused on neighborhood-based economic and community revitalization needs and strategies.

Taking a different approach, Forward Cities is “a multi-city, national learning collaborative that seeks to develop more inclusive innovation ecosystems in our nation’s cities.” This initiative is funded by the Case and Kresge foundations. Detroit, Durham, Cleveland and New Orleans are participating cities. ScaleUp Partners plays a central role in the initiative’s work to connect local innovation economies to communities of color and grow the number of minority-owned enterprises in each city. 

Policy topics address intentional local governance, improving the talent pipeline, access to information, access to capital, repurposing physical spaces, and channeling federal resources. Forward Cities intends to develop case studies, a toolkit, and “build a national learning platform and convening strategy” to extend the work to other cities.