Regions that offer economic opportunity for residents regardless of race, income, or background enjoy longer, stronger periods of prosperity and fewer, shorter periods of economic stagnation.
Metropolitan Chicago simply cannot thrive when so many people and places are left behind. Despite our many enviable assets, we fall short of ensuring economic opportunity for all residents. Though also true of many other regions, this unfortunate reality is particularly evident here according to numerous measures based on race or ethnicity. For a stronger, more equitable future, our region needs to ensure every resident and community has the ability to fully contribute to and benefit from the economy. By taking deliberate, concerted steps region-wide, together we can make progress toward inclusive growth across all seven counties and 284 municipalities.
Inequity persists when the location of someone’s home, their race or ethnicity, or socioeconomic status determine their economic success, health, and overall quality of life. This inequality manifests strongly along racial lines, and often can be traced to racially discriminatory policies and practices such as redlining, exclusionary zoning, school segregation, and predatory lending. Residents also experience health disparities depending on where they live and work. Promoting inclusive growth can disrupt these patterns and help the region be stronger and more successful economically.
To compete in the global economy, we must tap the full potential of all our workers, businesses, and infrastructure. Currently, a substantial portion of the region’s human capital -- embodied in the talents and skills of excluded residents -- is being wasted. Paired with other strategies to capitalize on the region’s economic assets, emphasizing inclusive economic initiatives can help restart long-term growth and increase prosperity across the region.
Strategies for inclusive growth can also help the region attract and retain a diverse populace. Having recently lost population -- particularly among low and moderate income residents and black residents -- we must take intentional, proactive steps to open doors in communities where opportunity hasn't knocked for generations.
Regionally, inequity also takes a toll on communities themselves, many of which have not recovered from the recession. Despite making prudent budget choices, too many municipalities find their tax base limited by disinvestment's effects. Combined with decreasing federal and state support, this lack of capacity can make it difficult for municipalities to provide essential services. Inclusive growth can help such communities stem these trends and control their own destiny.
Long-term regional prosperity requires economic opportunity for all residents and communities.