One of the region’s more interesting blogs, I Will Shout Youngstown, highlights the relationship between alleviating poverty and building a growing economy based on technology companies.
Bishop George Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown announced the “big hairy audacious goal” of cutting the city’s poverty rate – now pegged at 32.6% – in half by 2020. The goal of Advance Northeast Ohio is to reduce poverty in our core cities below 20% in a similar time frame — perhaps not as big or hairy, but challenging nonetheless.
In response, the blogger Janko asks:
Does technology-based economic development hinder or help traditionally disadvantaged groups?
On one hand, in a zero-sum world, it’s possible to argue “we have no money for homeless programs in Toledo because we are spending tax dollars on research equipment in Dayton.”
On the other hand, it’s possible to argue “funding a successful technology incubator in Youngstown has spin-off effects, in that it creates downstream businesses such as coffee shops and office cleaners, and provides additional taxes to the overall system to provide social services.”
My answer is technology-based companies can help revitalize our core cities and alleviate poverty, but only if we integrate efforts to build such companies with programs to prepare our residents for the jobs they create and we’ll also need to make extra effort to help people who have traditionally been left behind by our evolving economy. Only through such an integrated approach — the approach supported by partners in Advance Northeast Ohio — will we achieve the Bishop’s big hairy audacious goal.