New York The Citi Foundation and Living Cities today announced the expansion of the City Accelerator program to five additional U.S. cities—Atlanta, El Paso, Long Beach, Newark and Rochester. The five cities will work together over the next year to pursue a range of projects to support the growth of local minority-owned businesses and the creation of additional jobs in their communities. Local initiatives range from ensuring minority-owned businesses are integrated into the commercial development of the 31-acre Pittsburgh Yards site in Atlanta to expanding small business services through the network of local libraries in El Paso.
"While the impact of small business growth on the U.S. economy is widely appreciated, the potential of minority-owned small businesses is often overlooked," said Ed Skyler, Citi's Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chair of the Citi Foundation. "These cities recognize this untapped potential and are coming together to rethink how they work with minority-owned small businesses to help them grow and create high-quality jobs."
All five cities selected for this Accelerator are majority-minority, meaning that relative to the overall U.S. population, racial minorities comprise a majority of the local population, making them prime urban centers to address the barriers people of minority-owned businesses face, including access to capital, connections to industries, and navigating regulations.
Now in its fifth year, the City Accelerator has brought together 17 municipalities to test new approaches that improve the lives of residents, especially those with low incomes. For example, Baltimore created an online portal for residents returning from the criminal justice system to access services and job opportunities, which is now part of the Baltimore City Health Department's TECHealth initiative. Seattle created a system managed by the Department of Neighborhoods to integrate the perspectives of racially diverse communities into the planning of key projects and policies and track the results. The City of Los Angeles is using its position as the host of the 2028 Olympics to test out policies and programs that will ensure small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, have access to the economic opportunities that come with hosting a large event.
"Cities can have a disproportionately positive impact on local entrepreneurial ecosystems and the creation of good jobs", said Living Cities President and CEO Ben Hecht. "The cities in this latest initiative will be showing how they can harness all of their assets to support and grow businesses owned by the nation's fastest growing populations—people of color—and help to close racial gaps in wealth and income in their own backyards."
"Creating innovative ways to build opportunity and equity through job growth, business incubation and workforce training is a priority for our Administration and our city," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. "Our vision for One Atlanta includes a city where neighborhoods, communities and businesses thrive. We look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities through the City Accelerator to realize that goal."
"The El Paso Public Library System is a support mechanism within our community that aims to enhance economic and educational opportunities, especially for our minority population," said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. "El Paso has over 54,000 minority-owned local businesses and we look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities through the City Accelerator to enhance and cultivate the business community to support regional entrepreneurial efforts."
"Long Beach is committed to advancing its Economic Blueprint through participation in the City Accelerator, which will help map our local entrepreneurial ecosystem, identify growth industries, and support local talent," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "Through this exciting partnership with Citi Foundation and Living Cities, we hope to create a seamless support system for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in Long Beach."
"Taking part in the City Accelerator initiative will help us get two of my administration's most important initiatives off the ground—Buy Newark and the Contractor Development Initiative," said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. "Whether ensuring that anchor institutions commit to increasing purchasing from Newark businesses or large developers partner with smaller minority and women-owned contractors, we are implementing unique programs to drive local procurement. Newark is a city on the rise and we look forward to working with Citi Foundation and Living Cities as we use every tool in our toolkit to ensure that development is inclusive."
"My administration is committed to creating more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for all of our residents, regardless of the zip code they live in," said Rochester, NY Mayor Lovely A. Warren. "As our economy rebounds and becomes more focused on entrepreneurship and small business, it is essential that everyone is a part of the growth and prosperity. We are excited to work with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities as part of the City Accelerator as we develop strategies and policies designed to build an inclusive ecosystem that provides all Rochesterians with the opportunity to build a brighter future through business ownership."
In addition to a $100,000 grant, each city will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. Cities may consider local policy reform, changes in standard small business support practices, staff training, leadership and accountability structures, communications, outreach and relationship building, and capacity-building.
Technical assistance for the effort will be provided by Rodrick Miller, President and CEO of Ascendant Global, an economic development consulting firm. Miller has previously served as the President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the New Orleans Business Alliance.
The Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
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Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 18 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.