Inclusive Growth in the Digital Economy

 Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Last week, the Center for Civic Innovation hosted Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth and Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation at Georgetown University. They are on a multi-city listening tour, devoted to discussions on building inclusive growth in our modern, digital economy.

The Atlanta stop focused on the creative economy, equity, and the digital divide. Craig Vosburg, President of Mastercard North America, opened the event.  “Inclusive growth is one of the defining issues of our time. We see an important role for Mastercard and our partners to help connect everyone to the networks that power the modern economy."

Two panel discussions followed.

The first focused on bridging the gap between the creative and tech sectors. Bitter Southerner co-founder Chuck Reece facilitated a discussion between some of Atlanta’s most community-minded creatives, Courtney Hammond of Dashboard, Amanda Sabreah of Partnr, Lain Shakespeare of Mailchimp, and Matt Weiss of A3C Hip Hop Festival and Conference.

 Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

“In Atlanta, we separate the tech and artistic communities. It’s easy to stay within your four walls. We need to merge,” said Partnr‘s Amanda Sabreah, one of the panelists. “Get out of your four walls!”

Lain Shakespeare, Corporate Citizenship Manager at Mailchimp, shared insight on how Mailchimp’s fresh take on corporate philanthropy, by allowing arts organizations to take risks. 

There’s an opportunity for us to invest in small, medium-sized arts organizations… Founders focus so much on outcomes, but why can’t we focus on the creative process?

The second panel of the day focused on equity in economic growth. The Beeck Center’s Sonal Shah facilitated a discussion between Mike Carnathan of Neighborhood Nexus, Duriya Farooqui of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, Grace Fricks of ACE Loans, Lesley Grady of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and Nathaniel Smith of the Partnership for Southern Equity.

 Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Sonal Shah mentioned that so often, when she suggests bold, innovative action in the public policy world, she’s met with hesitation. “What if these ideas fail, people ask me. But we’re already failing so often to meet our public policy goals.”

Nathaniel Smith of the Partnership for Southern Equity reminded the audience that public budgets are reflections of society’s values. “You cannot talk about economic justice without talking about structural racism. Making America great again for some is making white supremacy work again.”

Lesley Grady of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta shared her perspective with the audience as a philanthropic funder. “Too often we forgot who the poor are.” Grady reminded the audience that data is very important, but that you can’t box everyone into a data set or forget about folks’ individual differences.

This event was one stop on the Center for Inclusive Growth’s “On the Frontlines of Inclusive Growth” tour.

Bringing together local businesses, think tanks, policymakers, thought leaders and other influencers in cities across the US, the Center for Inclusive Growth will publish findings from this tour and develop programming to promote inclusive growth in the U.S. during 2017 and beyond.

Additional Resources

Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth
The Beeck Center
Partnership for Southern Equity’s economic inclusion report
Hypepotamus - Discussing the Gap Between Creative and Tech
Atlanta Daily World - Investing in Diversity is Vital for Building Inclusive Economies