Introducing a comprehensive source of community development news from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

This month we are launching a new e-newsletter to create a comprehensive source for Community Development and Policy Studies news. This monthly email will highlight the latest community development publications (including ProfitWise News and Views), blogs, and upcoming events from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and across the Federal Reserve System.

Our intent with this new communications platform is to make our content and resources more accessible, and reduce our email flow while expanding information flow. We welcome feedback from users on this new platform and suggestions about other ways we can stay connected with you.

Subscribe to the e-newsletter now

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Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS) – 2017 Results for the Seventh District

By Emily Engel and Mark O’Dell

Thanks to the participation of over a thousand businesses across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, the latest round of the nationwide SBCS [1] provides fresh information about small business economic trends in the area served by the Federal Reserve Seventh District. One of the most notable findings is the predominance of older firms among survey respondents and the small number of newer firms relative to the country as a whole. Other factors measured and summarized below for businesses in the Seventh District (relative to the country as a whole) include adequate access to capital, and the number of firms producing large revenues, and widespread optimism concerning future revenues and employment growth. Another important set of data gathered from the survey addresses debt and credit use. Both credit use and business dynamism are central to the overall business environment, so we will take advantage of the Small Business Survey’s comprehensiveness to examine these results in greater detail.

Age of Firm

Nationally, 34 percent of firms were less than five years old. In the Seventh District, however, only 29 percent of firms fall into this category. At the state level, results ranged from 27 percent of businesses being under five years old in Wisconsin and Iowa, to 32 percent in Illinois. Indiana and Michigan came in at 29 percent – the average across the Seventh District. In all five states older firms were more prevalent than in the nation overall, with 28 percent of firms in the Chicago Fed’s District in business for at least 21 years. The national average for businesses that are at least on their third decade is only 23 percent.

This young firm-old firm dynamic in the Seventh District may be partly explained by the region’s lower population growth. Nationally, the places with the largest fraction of younger businesses have rapid population growth, including Florida with 40 percent of businesses under five years old and Texas with 38 percent. Another likely factor is the state-level fiscal and regulatory environment, while the industry composition of regional economies also may play a role in the proportion of younger businesses appearing in the survey.

Firms Exceeding $10M in Revenue

Along the same lines, according to the SBCS, the Seventh District includes a larger proportion of high-revenue small businesses than the country as a whole. In Seventh District states, 6 percent of firms reported more than $10 million in revenue during the previous year. This rate is higher than the 4 percent reported nationally, and led by the 7 percent of Wisconsin firms reporting at least $10 million in revenue. Other states above the national average at 5 percent in Illinois and 6 percent in Indiana, Iowa and Michigan. When comparing Seventh District states with the rest of the country in lower revenue divisions, the differences are less striking; 17 percent of firms in the Seventh District earned $100,000 or less in revenue during the previous year, versus 18 percent nationally. Both nationally and in the Seventh District, 51 percent of firms earned between $100,000 and $1 million in revenue, and 26 percent of Seventh District firms earned between $1 million and $10 million, while 27 percent reached that revenue range nationally.

Broadly speaking, businesses in the Seventh District report similar challenges and levels of financial health compared with businesses around the country. In the country as a whole 29 percent of businesses surveyed said they were growing, while 28 percent of businesses in the Seventh District reported growth. Michigan firms were standouts in growth within the Seventh District, with 33 percent reporting growing, while 27 percent of Wisconsin firms, 28 percent of Iowa firms and 26 percent of both Indiana and Illinois firms reported growth. Forty percent of firms in the Seventh District did not report financial challenges in the past year, better than the 36 percent reporting no financial challenges nationally. Both nationwide and in the Seventh district, the number one financial challenge was paying operating expenses and wages, with 37 percent of businesses in the Seventh District calling it a challenge; 40 percent of businesses nationally agreed. Fewer Midwest businesses faced challenges with inventory purchases than the national average, with only 14 percent of Seventh District firms considering it a challenge while 18 percent of firms nationwide considered inventory and materials to be a financial challenge. One very important distinction for firms in the Seventh District was in credit access, with only 25 percent reporting that credit availability was a challenge compared with 30 percent of businesses nationally.

Financial Challenges Experienced in the Past 12 Months

The survey found that the states served by the Seventh District ranged from 36 percent of businesses reporting no financial challenges in Illinois, to 46 percent of businesses reporting no financial challenges in Wisconsin. In between, 37 percent of Michigan firms, 38 percent of Indiana firms, and 41 percent of Iowa firms reported no financial challenges. While in all states, operating expenses and wages were the most common source of financial challenges, about a third (33 percent) of businesses in Indiana reported that credit availability was a challenge. This contrasts with the other states in the Seventh District, particularly Iowa (22 percent) and Illinois (24 percent), but also Michigan (28 percent) and Wisconsin (27 percent). The only other widely reported financial challenges in any of the five states were debt payments; debt was named as a challenge by 20 percent of firms in Wisconsin and 24 percent of firms in Illinois.

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of small businesses in the Seventh District reported prior outstanding debt; this matched the national rate. Around two in five firms in the Seventh District applied for additional credit in the past year. A majority (55 percent) of these credit applicants went to small banks; this ratio is a notably higher than the national average of 47 percent. In contrast, only 38 percent of Seventh District credit-seeking firms sought loans or lines of credit from large banks, and only 18 percent used an online lender. These rates are significantly lower than the national averages. In addition, 4 percent of Seventh District credit seekers applied with community development financial institutions (CDFIs); 10 percent applied with credit unions; and 15 percent sought some other source of funding.

Application rate by source of loan, line of credit, or cash advance

For Seventh District firms that did not seek additional financing in the past year, a majority (55 percent) already reported sufficient financing. Fifty percent already used a small bank for financing needs, again exceeding the national rate. This indicates that small banks, while important around the country, are an even more central part of the financing of small business in the Midwest. This finding is consistent with the prevalence of community banks in states of the Seventh District. For example, in 2017 fully 47.5 percent of bank branches in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin were owned by banks with under $3 billion in assets. Nationwide banks with under $3 billion in assets only owned 30.3 percent of branches.[2]

Overall, the 2017 SBCS results suggest that the state of small business in the Seventh District largely mirrors that of the rest of the country, with a few important distinctions. First, the states of the Seventh District contain an elevated number of older firms and high-revenue firms relative to the rest of the country; this again is likely linked with the industrial makeup of the Seventh District and the flat population growth of the region. Seventh District small businesses face many of the same challenges as businesses around the country, but fewer of them consider credit availability to be a major challenge, and many small businesses already consider themselves to have sufficient financing. For those businesses seeking new financing, the prevalence of small banks of the Seventh District has meant they play a larger role in providing access to credit than the national average. Finally, firms in the Seventh district vary widely in their recent profitability growth, but match the rest of the country with cautious optimism for future revenue and employment growth.

To learn more about the SBCS and see all the most recent releases, please visit the Fed Small Business homepage.

 

[1] The SBCS is a convenience sample. Since the sample is not selected randomly, the survey may be subject to biases that are not present in randomly-selected samples of firms.  To control for potential biases, the results are weighted using U.S. Census Data to reflect the full population of businesses along the dimensions of industry, age, employee size, and geography.
[2] Summary of Deposits, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 2017.
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Community Advisory Council (CAC) Nominations are Now Open

By Jason Keller

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors (the Board) announced on April 16, 2018, that it is accepting applications from individuals who wish to be considered for membership on the Community Advisory Council (CAC). Community Development and Policies Studies (CDPS) – a division of the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago–is working with the Board to source candidates for the CAC from the Seventh District, which consists of Iowa as well as portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Formed in 2015, the CAC advises the Board on issues affecting consumers and communities. The CAC serves as a mechanism to gather feedback and perspectives on a wide range of policy matters and emerging issues of interest to the Board as well as the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. The CAC is made up of a diverse group of experts representing interests including, but not limited to: affordable housing, community and economic development, employment and labor, financial services and related technology, wealth building, and small business.  Two current CAC members are from the Seventh District and were highlighted last year on the CDPS blog: Bethany Sanchez and Rodrick Miller.

The CAC meets semi-annually with members of the Board in Washington, DC, and consists of 15 members. Its purpose is to provide a range of perspectives on the economic circumstances of consumers and communities, with a focus on the concerns of low- and moderate-income populations. It complements two of the Board’s other advisory councils – the Federal Advisory Council and the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council – whose members represent depository institutions.

The Board is interested in candidates with knowledge of the aforementioned fields who serve (in some part) economically disadvantaged populations. Candidates do not have to be experts on all topics, but they should have some knowledge of these areas and related issues, and preferably a particular area of related expertise or knowledge. In appointing members to the CAC, the Board will consider a number of factors, including diversity in terms of subject matter expertise, geographic representation, and the representation of women and minority groups. In this application cycle, the Board welcomes applications from all geographies and areas of expertise, but is keenly interested in gaining perspectives of individuals involved in civil rights work, as well as labor-related topics and labor unions.

The Board will select six members in the fall of 2018 to replace current members whose terms will expire on December 31, 2018. The newly appointed members will serve three-year terms that will begin on January 1, 2019. If a member vacates the CAC before the end of the three-year term, a replacement member will be appointed to fill the unexpired term. CAC members must be willing and able to make the necessary time commitment to participate in organizational conference calls and prepare for and attend meetings two times per year (usually for two days). The meetings will be held in Washington, DC. The Board will provide a nominal honorarium and will reimburse CAC members for their travel expenses (subject to Board policy).

Candidates may submit applications by one of three options:

Additional information about the selection process, including instructions for submitting an application, can be found in the Federal Register notice.

For Further Information, contact:

Jennifer Fernandez (for questions nationally)
Community Development Analyst
Federal Reserve Board of Governors
CCA-CAC@frb.gov

Emily Engel (for questions from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin)
Business Economist
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
CDPSevents@chi.frb.org

The Board will accept applications through 11:59 PM EDT on June 15, 2018.

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Federal Reserve Banks Launch the New Website “Fed Small Business”

In conjunction with National Small Business Week, the 12 Reserve Banks of the Federal Reserve System today launched a new website: Fed Small Business. This site will serve as a hub for the Reserve Banks’ small business research, analysis and thought leadership.

Fed Small Business includes content from the annual Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS), a national survey of small business owners that provides insight into firms’ financing needs and experiences. The website launched today brings together SBCS reports, along with their associated underlying data and questionnaires, in a single resource. It also maintains information on how community and business groups can partner with the SBCS to further understanding of the unique small business sector.

The site aims to inform efforts to help small firms, by making small business insight from the 12 Reserve Banks easily accessible to policymakers, community leaders and service providers. Going forward, Fed Small Business will be expanded to include additional SBCS work and a wide breadth of other small business research.

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Money Smart Week®

By Heather Greenwell, Outreach Program Team Lead, Public Affairs, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Individuals active in the financial education field are no doubt familiar with the staggering statistics that characterize consumer financial health in the United States:

  • 28% of non-retired adults have no retirement savings or pensions
  • 44% say that they could not cover a $400 emergency expense or would have to cover it by selling something or borrowing money
  • Just over 25% of all adults are unbanked or underbanked
  • 25% of all adults report forgoing one or more types of health care in the prior year due to cost[1]

Organizations across the country devote their time and resources to understanding and addressing the symptoms and root causes of the financially tenuous situation in which many Americans find themselves. Over the past 16 years, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has strived to connect people in tenuous financial shape with organizations that can help them build financial capability and health by showcasing these resources during the annual Money Smart Week® campaign. While that’s a key purpose of Money Smart, there is valuable information for everyone.

The Money Smart Week® Campaign is a national education effort designed to help consumers of all ages and from all walks of life better manage their personal finances. The campaign is coordinated and supported through the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago which began the effort in 2002 with 40 Chicago-based organizations who constituted the Money Smart Advisory Council. From this locally oriented beginning, the campaign has grown exponentially to provide thousands of free sessions and events across the country addressing key aspects of household financial health. Money Smart Week® event information is available and searchable by state, zip code, topic or audience at https://www.moneysmartweek.org/events.

For organizations who might want to host a Money Smart Week® event, for example organizations that already hold financial counseling related seminars, they can sign up to become a Money Smart Week Partner and list their event via www.moneysmartweek.org. Many groups become partners, offering content, meeting space, facilitators and/or other resources.

This extensive growth owes to the dedicated collaboration of people at thousands of organizations across the country including financial institutions, schools, nonprofits, trade organizations, and government agencies. The Money Smart Week® campaign has also been fortunate to have the support of key National Champions, large organizations that leverage their base of members or content expertise, to increase the footprint of Money Smart Week® across the country. Our 2018 National Champions include the American Library Association (ALA), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cooperative Extension, National Consumer Education Foundation (NCEF), Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, and the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

New efforts for the Money Smart Week® 2018 Campaign focus on engaging youth in building healthy financial habits.

Children as young as three to five years of age are developing the basic skills and attitudes that lay the foundation for later financial well-being.[2]  The Money Smart Week® Kids Read program, piloted this year, was designed to provide a fun way for parents and caregivers to establish the building blocks of saving and goal setting through story time at a local library. Each child attending a Money Smart Week® Kids Read program will be able to take home a free copy of Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, an enlightening and pragmatic exploration of needs versus wants; adults receive a free CFPB discussion guide to reinforce the learning.

For youth in the next tier of development, middle childhood (6-12 years old), developing financial habits and norms take center stage. Although it may not always be apparent, youth in this age group form those skills and attitudes by observing how the adults in their lives spend, save, and interact with money.[3]  For the last several years, groups of Money Smart Week® Partner organizations and planning teams have sponsored local Money Smart Week Kid competitions. The goal of these competitions is to engage students in dialogue with parents and guardians, encourage critical thinking, and opportunities to solve real-life financial issues.

Money Smart Week® programs shift to an online format for youth in adolescence and early adulthood in order to meet these young consumers where they are, and to help them practice money skills and decision-making. For high school aged youth, Money Smart Cache! is an online game where players move their avatars through a route of obstacles and learn important financial lessons along the way. College students can engage in GeoCache for College Cash, a virtual scavenger hunt across campus using their mobile device. This virtual quest features personal finance information that every student should know.

[1] Federal Reserve Board. (2017, June 14). Survey of Household Economics and Decision-making. https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/shed.htm
[2] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Resources for Parents and Caregivers. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/money-as-you-grow/
[3] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2016, September 7). Four Strategies to Help Youth Achieve Financial Capability. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/four-strategies-help-youth-achieve-financial-capability/
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Workforce Development for Chicago’s Youth

By Emily Engel

The definition of ‘workforce development’ is broad, and there are many programs that focus on the different aspects of the field. Recently, CDPS posted two workforce-focused blogs: (1) Workforce Development for the Next Generation: Early Childhood Education and (2) Investing in America’s Workforce. CDPS will continue to explore the topic from different perspectives. This blog will look at youth unemployment, specifically through the lens of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills) Beyond the Diploma program. 

With the labor market at what many economists might consider maximum employment (5 percent unemployment is the rule of thumb for ‘full employment’ and the latest data from January 2018 show the nation at 4.1 percent), a close look is warranted at the segments of the working-age population who are unemployed. One such segment is young adults between the ages of 16 and 19. Addressing youth unemployment is especially important given the drastically higher unemployment rate for youth (white 12.4 percent) and black youth in particular (24.3 percent) as compared to the rates for whites and blacks on average (i.e., irrespective of age), which are 3.5 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.

Table 1: Unemployment rates (Click image to enlarge)


Source: BLS Data, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm

Looking beyond the unemployment figures, the share of teens in the labor force (employed or looking for employment) has fallen precipitously – just 43 percent of teens had a job in July 2016, compared to 72 percent in 1978. The Brookings Institution recently highlighted the importance of reconnecting youth to employment in its report Employment and disconnection among teens and young adults: The role of place, race, and education. It discusses “disconnected youth,” defined as those neither working nor in school. These youth “are at risk for a host of negative outcomes: long spells of unemployment, poverty, criminal behavior, substance abuse, and incarceration.” While Chicago has a lower share of disconnected youth in both age groups compared to the U.S., a closer look reveals, the share of disconnected black youth is higher in both age groups as compared to the U.S.

Skills is trying to address the gap in employment attainment for youth in Chicago through a new, employer-driven approach. Skills is a public-private partnership working to match businesses that have current, unmet hiring needs with qualified, unemployed and underemployed job seekers. Skills spent time in late 2016 analyzing both primary and secondary research on trends in youth unemployment, which yielded four key findings:

  1. Lack of Exposure – Younger teens (age 16 – 19) are now participating in the labor force at much lower levels than previous decades, with potentially detrimental effects of not gaining early, formative work experiences.
  2. “College for All” Mentality – For high school students the emphasis on college preparation appears in some cases to have crowded out career planning for those not headed to college. As a result, awareness of alternative pathways, or even how to balance both work and post-secondary education, remains low among high school students.
  3. Workplace Conflict Resolution – Young adults experience unique challenges navigating workplace relationships, conflicts and professional norms, creating additional barriers to retaining employment.
  4. A Degree is Not a Silver Bullet – College degrees do not necessarily translate into meaningful careers, especially for low-income and/or first generation college students, and little support is available to help those with limited experience secure employment commensurate with their educational attainment.

The result of the analysis and these findings was a new programmatic approach called “Beyond the Diploma” aimed at youth from high school students through college graduates. Skills based the program on a single guiding hypothesis: an employer-driven approach that results in a real, committed job – coupled with soft skills training, mentorship and support necessary to persist in employment – will create positive impact for both young adults and businesses.[1]

These four findings inform a three-pronged approach that focuses on three distinct groups with different needs: “Jobs 101” for high school students; “Pivot to Success” for high school graduates; and “U 2.0” to serve college graduates.

Jobs 101: Given the push for higher education, even though many students will not attend college, career planning in high school has historically been overlooked. Jobs 101 will create a solution for these issues, bringing career preparation into high schools to complement the college counseling students receive. Juniors and seniors would receive education on job readiness, including how to: apply for a job, write a resume, interview and negotiate an offer. Students would also have the opportunity to engage directly with employers through site visits to learn about different career pathways. Ultimately, Skills will also place students in both part-time/summer jobs while they are in high school, as well as connect them to full-time jobs with career pathways if they choose not to pursue college (immediately).

Pivot to Success: Pivot to Success will target youth ages 18 – 24 with a high school degree or a GED that are neither working nor attending college full-time. Skills is partnering with committed employer partners to place youth adults into entry-level jobs with defined career advancement opportunities. Youth will also have the opportunity to advance their education through college or industry credential training, and receive mentoring support to address barriers they may face in persisting in either work or school.

U 2.0: U 2.0 is aimed at youth that have graduated from college with a two- or four-year degree, but need additional support and preparation in finding and transitioning into a job. Skills will partner closely with both employers and higher education partners to prepare and connect graduates to meaningful first jobs. Graduates with few barriers to entry will be directly connected into employers, while those lacking the necessary soft skills will receive “boot camp” training to prepare them to interview, obtain, and succeed in jobs.

This three-pronged approach has the potential to help more youth in Chicago secure not only a job, but a career that will improve their economic trajectory.

 

[1] https://www.skillsforchicagolandsfuture.com/news/mayor-emanuel-and-skills-for-chicagolands-future-announce-new-initiative-to-place-unemployed-youth-into-jobs-with-career-pathways-and-higher-education/

 

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Investing in America’s Workforce

By Jason Keller

On May 30, 2017, CDPS blogged about the final revisions to the Interagency Questions and Answers regarding Community Reinvestment. That blog focused on changes to the definition of community development, specifically the references to workforce development or other job training programs for low- or moderate-income (LMI) or unemployed persons as qualified activities under the regulation.

Connected to that revision, beginning earlier in 2017, the Board of Governors and the 12 Federal Reserve Banks undertook a multi-year, cross-sectoral endeavor to explore the regional aspects of improving workforce outcomes and investments. This initiative, titled Investing in America’s Workforce, aimed to reimagine and reframe workforce development efforts to create a foundation from which a new era of investment can grow. One component of this effort was to convene regional meetings across the country to identify new approaches, opportunities, and challenges in investing and evaluating outcomes in workforce development.

Participants in these meetings represented training providers, employers, financial institutions, government, philanthropy, policymakers, community development practitioners, as well as researchers. A total of 52 listening sessions were held across 32 states and Puerto Rico throughout the first half of 2017 with close to 1,000 participants. In the Federal Reserve’s Seventh District, which includes Iowa and portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, regional meetings were held in Des Moines, Iowa, Springfield, Illinois Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Key questions discussed were: 1) what opportunities for investment in workforce development exist, 2) what would make workforce development more investable, and 3) how can workforce development efforts be better evaluated?

These regional meetings revealed similar challenges facing both employers and potential job seekers across the country. However, several promising strategies were identified for expanding and diversifying the pipeline of skilled workers and connecting those workers to employers. The purpose of this blog is twofold: one is to describe the nature and purpose of the regional meetings as well as the full report. Consider sharing the report with your constituents or others that have a vested interest in furthering workforce development efforts. The second is to share some potentially helpful resources and opportunities to learn more about this topic:

  • Engaging Workforce Development: A Framework for Meeting CRA Obligations. In December 2016, the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and Kansas City released a publication designed to give banks, and organizations interested in partnering with them, tools and information to engage in workforce development activities in ways that may help fulfill obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The full Framework document can be found here.
  • Investing in America’s Workforce Capstone Conference and Publication. In October 2017, over 325 individuals attended a national conference in Austin, Texas, to discuss opportunities and challenges for investment in workforce development. Over 40 workforce, industry, philanthropic, and community experts spoke during the convening and highlighted encouraging areas for greater investments to benefit both businesses and workers. Recordings of the plenary sessions can be found here. In 2018, the Federal Reserve System will release a book exploring how to improve workforce outcomes for workers and employers.
  • Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta recently announced the launch of the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity (CWEO). CWEO acts as a bridge between research and practice, connecting researchers, businesses, and policymakers with innovative approaches to creating economic opportunity through education and employment. We encourage you to visit the new site.
  • Three Part Webinar Series. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is hosting a three-part webinar series on strategies to promote and improve quality jobs for lower-wage workers. This series is hosted in partnership with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Aspen Institute, and the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at the Sloan School of Management in connection with the Federal Reserve System initiative Investing in America’s Workforce.  The sessions will explore strategies for improving job quality and outcomes for workers and businesses through the perspectives of employers, workers and the research community. The intended audience for these webinars is employers, workforce development intermediaries, chambers of commerce, business support organizations and community development practitioners. Information on the webinars is as follows:
Webinar I: How Employers Create Good Jobs to Maintain Their Competitive Advantage

  • Lead Partner: National Fund for Workforce Solutions
  • Date and Time: February 22, 2018: 2:00-3:00 pm CT
  • Registration link: Here
Webinar II: Engaging Workers in Creating Good Jobs

  • Lead Partner: Aspen Institute
  • Date and Time: March 22, 2018: 2:00-3:00 pm CT
  • Registration link: Here
Webinar III: In Search of the Employment “High Road”:  A Research Perspective on Developing Good Jobs

  • Lead Partner: National Fund for Workforce Solutions
  • Date and Time: April 26, 2018: 2:00-3:00 pm CT
  • Registration link: Here
  • 2018 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference. The Federal Reserve System, in conjunction with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, will be hosting the 2018 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference (NICRC) at the Hyatt Regency Miami March 18 through March 21. The event will bring together a diverse group of public, nonprofit, and private sector practitioners and leaders to discuss emerging ideas and best practices in community development from around the country, one of which will be workforce development. Registration is open, and more details can be found here.
  • CDPS Publications. If you subscribe to this Blog, but want to learn more about current economic development news, trends, policy, and research within the Federal Reserve’s Seventh District, subscribe to our signature publication, ProfitWise News and Views. To learn more about trends nationally, visit Fedcommunities.

We continue to explore opportunities to further engage in community development challenges, including workforce development. If you have any comments or questions about any of the resources listed above, please let us know. Questions or comments can be sent to cdpsevents@chi.frb.org.

Check back often for updates on the initiative and new research on employment, workforce development, education, and training from around the Federal Reserve System.

Join the conversation on Twitter: @InvestInWork; #InvestInWork.

For more information on this initiative and other workforce development and human capital topics, please contact Jason Keller, economic development director within CDPS, at Jason.Keller@chi.frb.org

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CDPS Stakeholder Survey: How can we better serve you?

In accordance with our five-year strategic plan, the Community Development and Policy Studies (CDPS) division of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has been working to expand our reach within the Seventh District and to advance our mission of improving conditions in low- and moderate-income communities.

Toward this end, we are conducting a survey of community development partners and stakeholders to learn how to better communicate with our audience. As a valued stakeholder, the responses you provide in this brief, one-time, survey will help us improve our communications as we work together to bring development and opportunities to underserved communities. The survey will take most users about five minutes to complete.

Please help us and take the survey: http://frb.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eWp8PA2QmKWWUG9

If you have any questions on the survey, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at cdpsevents@chi.frb.org.

Thank you in advance for your time and valuable input.

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Seventh District Representation on the Fed’s Community Advisory Council (CAC)

Recently, we profiled Seventh District CAC member Bethany Sanchez in the CDPS blog. The other sitting member of the CAC from the Seventh District is Rodrick Miller, who represents Ascendant Global Consulting. We asked him about his role, responsibilities, and outlook.

Q: What do you do for Ascendant Global and how does your work relate to community and economic development?

Ascendant Global (AG) is a consultancy that builds efficient, sustainable, measurable economic growth solutions for municipalities, foundations, universities, and private enterprises. From developing comprehensive workforce development strategies and designing small business ecosystem solutions to refining value propositions and driving external investments for communities, AG is singularly focused on strengthening economies through inclusive strategic growth.

AG recognizes that economies are regional, anchored by cities, and must compete globally. Through that lens, we work with an array of clients who seek to fundamentally strengthen their competitive position; increase coordination between the private, public, and nonprofit actors; and chart a clear path forward. This work results in increased access to jobs and income; encourages smart public and private investment in infrastructure, education, and facilities; and, increases the latent capacity of communities to produce value-added goods and services and contribute to the global marketplace; all of these components are essential to the long-term health of communities.

As the Founder and CEO of Ascendant Global, I partner with markets confronted with deep challenges to long-term economic security, help them identify solutions and deliver results that are appropriate for their economic, demographic, and political realities. I enjoy being the quarterback for an incredibly talented team and work side by side with them to craft solutions that are thoughtful and effective. Some of the solutions that we have developed for specific clients include:

  • Identifying the support resources and tools available to help small businesses start up, stay up, and scale up over time and increased coordination between diverse small business support entities. (Detroit)
  • Developed a five-year strategic plan to increase the likelihood of long-term career and life success for “at-risk youth” by coordinating, tracking and aggressively pursuing workforce development, career counseling, and job access goals.
  • Created a sustainable development plan for downtown and underserved corridors in a mid-sized city including recommendations on appropriate incentives, refinement of zoning and planning policies, marketing strategies, and leveraging local small business capacity.
  • Assisted various municipalities and diverse nonprofit organizations in launching economic development agencies that manage incentives and provide real estate and site selection support. (Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans)

Q: Please give an overview of why you wanted to join the Community Advisory Council?

Involvement in the Community Advisory Council (CAC) was an ideal way to elevate issues confronting low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities to the Federal Reserve Board. Having led economic recovery efforts in New Orleans and Detroit, I have seen first-hand that LMI communities tend to have less access to information, resources, and opportunity. It often seems as if the challenging realities of these communities are a footnote to broader national policy discussions. The ability to inform, promote, and encourage Fed policy to increase access to startup capital, encourage homeownership, and drive job creation through involvement in this meaningful action-oriented forum is an incredible honor and an invaluable opportunity to give voice to marginalized populations. Learning more about how the Fed works and impacts economic opportunity has been enlightening.

Q: Tell us one thing that would help us to get to know you.

I am the son of a noncommissioned US Army officer. As a result, I grew up in many places around the US and abroad. One of the most impactful experiences was living in West Germany during the height of the Cold War from 1987-1990. I watched the Berlin Wall come down and witnessed the fall of the USSR up close. This provided me with a unique vantage point of the process people navigate to change their circumstances, redefine their lives, and learn to survive in dramatically different economic and social contexts. It was painful at times, and incredibly inspiring at others, to see families learn how to work differently, become entrepreneurs and, in many cases, thrive. While the world watched this shift on a macro level, I got to see it play out in person. This experience awakened my interest in political economy and is one of the biggest factors that led me to become an economic developer.

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Seventh District Representation on the Fed’s Community Advisory Council

“The Community Advisory Council (CAC) was formed by the Federal Reserve Board in 2015 to offer diverse perspectives on the economic circumstances and financial services needs of consumers and communities, with a particular focus on the concerns of low- and moderate-income populations. The CAC complements two of the Board’s other advisory councils–the Federal Advisory Council and the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council–whose members represent depository institutions. The CAC meets semiannually with members of the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.”

The Fed’s Seventh District comprises parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, plus the state of Iowa. Two members of the CAC hale from the Seventh District, one of whom was recently appointed. During this month we will publish a blog about each, in their own words, to give our readers some additional insight on our representatives to the CAC, and their points of view on community development policy priorities.

The newest CAC member from our district is Bethany Sanchez, who represents the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council. We asked her some straightforward questions about her role, responsibilities, and outlook.

Q: What do you do for Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council and why is your work important to the community?

I direct the Fair Lending program at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, partnering with local, state and national groups to create programs and policies to increase fair lending and housing choice, and promote fair and affordable housing and equitable community development.

In that role, I monitor the lending records of banks serving the Milwaukee area and convene the Milwaukee CRA Coalition. I’m a member of the Board of Directors of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), a leader in Milwaukee’s homeownership consortium called Take Root Milwaukee, and an active participant in the Wisconsin Consumer Roundtable, Milwaukee’s Alliance for Economic Inclusion, the Financial Equity Coalition, and the Wisconsin Affordable Housing Coalition. Another big part of my work is providing a wide variety of community groups with outreach and education on fair housing, fair lending and the Community Reinvestment Act.

These interactions and relationships reinforce my understanding of the barriers to our goal of ensuring that every credit-worthy borrower has equal access to fairly-priced credit. Fair housing and fair lending laws are incredibly important. However, much more work is needed to ensure that all borrowers understand their rights and responsibilities, avoid predatory loans, and obtain home loans and small business loans that will help build wealth and secure a healthy, equitable future for their families and communities.

Q: Why was it important for you to get involved with the Chicago Fed and become a part of our Community Advisory Council?

I have been fortunate to be a Beige Book Survey participant for the Chicago Fed for a number of years. I hope my input has helped the Fed gain a deeper understanding of local trends in the Milwaukee region, especially as they relate to housing, jobs and community development. I expect that the national opportunity to serve on the Federal Reserve Board’s Community Advisory Council will take that to the next level, informing the Federal Reserve Board and their staff about the financial concerns of Milwaukee area low- and moderate-income communities, and of opportunities to increase equal access to fairly-priced credit and capital.

Q: Tell us one thing that would help us to get to know you.

I am a strong believer in the importance of balance. The balance and interconnections between my professional, personal and spiritual life keep me engaged and motivated. Meditation helps me remember to seek understanding of the perspectives and motivations of those with whom I interact, striving to engage with others from a calm, balanced place of love.

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