Just Growth and the Future of Our Economy
Chris Benner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Community and Regional Development,
University of California Davis
(In this an adapted excerpt from the recently released book, Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in the New Economy, co-author Chris Benner makes a thought provoking argument about why economic growth and tackling inequality should go hand-in-hand. Dig deeper when Benner speaks at the ACCE Annual Convention in Louisville on August 3rd.)
The financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the lingering Great Recession have raised some profound questions about the nature of our economic system. We suggest that one element at play in the crisis deserves special attention: income inequality. After all, what emerged in the years before the crisis was a nearly unprecedented – well, except before that other Great Depression – rise in the gap between the rich and the poor. With some so wealthy that they shifted to increasingly speculative investments to place their excess funds and others so strapped that they borrowed to prop up their falling household incomes, the financial trap was set. It could have been better regulated, but the fundamental problem was not the market but the distribution that the market confronted.
If inequality was among the factors that got us into the crisis, dealing with inequality may be one of the steps to getting out of it. Yet this is not a simple matter of legislating fairness in taxes, social policy, or government spending. Renewed economic growth is critical since the poor rarely do well in an economy that is stagnating. At the same time, recovery alone is not sufficient; recent decades are full of examples of national and metropolitan economies in which rapid expansion in employment and/or income has been accompanied by sharper social differentiation.
We need, in short, more than just growth (or growth alone); we need instead "just growth," a framework in which the imperatives of equity have been coupled with strategies to shore up the macro-economy, spur new industrial development, and re-regulate the financial system. Such a framework will require a stretch on the part of business leaders, many of whom have long been concerned about economic expansion but not worried much about equity – and it will also require a commitment and an analytical stretch by those that have long fought for "economic justice" but have not always thought about how best to promote the economic part of that couplet.
Fortunately, in our efforts to promote both growth and equity, we don't need to start from scratch—long before the national meltdown helped to make this point, the notion that inequality might actually damage economic growth was gaining ground at a metropolitan scale in a growing number of regions across the country.
Read the full article here
Message from the Chair
Join Us in Louisville
Chair, ACCE Diversity and Inclusion Council
Vice President of Economic Inclusion,
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
The ACCE Convention is the premier annual gathering for chamber of commerce professionals. It's the event where chamber professionals with responsibilities for marketing, advocacy, membership, and economic development connect and exchange ideas. It is the venue where chamber leaders from communities large and small across the country learn about the latest trends. This summer in Louisville, it is also the place to discuss diversity and inclusion in business and community leadership.
With help from the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, we've organized several speakers, workshops and gatherings geared especially for diversity and inclusion leaders. Program details are listed below, but don't just come for the workshops and roundtables. Come for the one-of-a-kind networking; come for the compelling keynote speakers like Yum! Brands CEO David Novak and TIME Magazine's assistant managing editor Rana Foroohar; come to celebrate award-winning chamber programs. Most importantly, come and support this growing body of work for the association.
By now you've received the convention brochure. Take a look at the line-up, and if you have questions, call me or Ian Scott on staff at 703-998-3530. If you are building a diversity, inclusion, or minority business program at your chamber, you owe it to yourself and your organization to join us in Louisville this summer. Hope to see you there!
Here's a preview of the workshops we have planned:
The Diverse Board | Aug. 3 at 9:45 a.m.
Moderator: Joe Reagan, President and CEO, St. Louis (MO) Regional Chamber and Growth Association
Presenter: John H. Eaves, Ph.D., Chairman, Fulton County Commission
Does your chamber board reflect the demographic and industry mix of your community? Discover the benefits of building a board with a balance of industry sector, business size, gender, race and age, and take home strategies for recruiting a more diverse, more effective board.
Growing Inclusively | Aug. 3 at 11:15 a.m.
Presenter: Chris Benner, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Community and Regional Development, University of California Davis
Panelists: Jim Anderson, President and CEO, Springfield (MO) Area Chamber of Commerce; Doug Minter, Business Development Manager, Knoxville Area Chamber
The most inclusive regions are often the fastest growing with the most vibrant economies. Find out why inclusion is an economic imperative and why it should be part of your regional strategy.
Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable | Aug. 3 at 1 p.m.
Are you in charge of developing a minority business program at your chamber? Concerned that your organization is on the wrong side of shifting demographics? Struggling to recruit the diverse workforce businesses demand? We can't promise answers but we can promise ideas from peers facing the same struggles. Join us for this facilitated roundtable discussion.
Join your peers for our series of best practice sharing roundtable conference calls. Build your professional network and learn what's working and what's not in diversity and inclusion efforts at other chambers around the country.
These are open participation roundtable conference calls, not seminars. Come prepared to share your thoughts and experiences. Here are dial-in instructions:
Dial: (605) 475-4800
Enter Access Code: 625619#
Mark your calendar now for:
Recognition and Connections Programs | Aug. 30 at 3 p.m. ET
During this session we'll discuss recognition, connections/networking, and cultural emersion programs.
Public Policy and Awareness | Oct. 25 at 3 p.m. ET
Join us as we focus on diversity-related public policy issues and public awareness efforts.
Funding Diversity Efforts | Nov. 29 at 3 p.m. ET
Join the discussion examining successful strategies to fund diversity and inclusion programs, including sponsorship and new member recruitment.