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New organization targets racial economic disparities

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Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion told local business leaders Friday at a meeting of the Greater MSP business group that disparities hurt the region's overall prosperity.

The new organization aims to close economic gaps between white Minnesotans and people of color.

She said marginalization of people of color weakens the region's economy and that efforts to close the economic gaps between whites and people of color have stalled, despite growing awareness of the problem.

"These are issues that impact all of us," Black said in an interview. "And it's got to be about the economy. No more charity mindset. We're really (focused on) a mindset of economic growth and knowing that these issues impact us all."

She said her organization will seek collaboration from a variety of organizations to tackle economic inequality.

"We'll be focused on moving the needle in policy in all sectors: public sector, private sector, philanthropy and nonprofit," she said. "Bringing people together, likely and unlikely allies together to craft strategies, but also be really intentionally focused and truthful about the problems that get in our way and the solutions."

Black said the organization aims for an annual budget of about $6 million and a staff of 30 people.

The center will focus on economic development and vitality in racially-diverse communities, job training, inclusive workplaces, living-wage work, transportation and other issues.

The center will bring three existing organizations under its umbrella — the Northside Funders Group, Blue Line Coalition and the East Side Funders Group.