Building An Economy For All
After seven years of investing in robust diversity, equity and inclusion practices, LEAP announced the creation of a new Department of Equitable Economic Planning (DEEP) to formalize its transition from planning to action. DEEP aims to unlock the full potential of the local economy by expanding opportunities for low-income people, communities that are primarily Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and other historically disenfranchised populations including women, returning citizens, LGBTQ+ and more.
Investing in equity practices is an economic imperative. Since 2000, the United States economy lost an estimated $16 trillion due to discrimination, according to a September 2020 study by Citi Group. By addressing the racial wealth gap by 2028, U.S. GDP would grow by an estimated $1.5 trillion, or 6% of its current level, according to an August 2019 McKinsey report.
A Three-Pronged Approach
DEEP’s strategy to enhance equitable development in the Lansing region involves a three-pronged approach of internal policy review and evolution, community partnerships and programs to enhance business ownership and economic participation among its target groups.
DEEP’s policy direction will serve as structural and symbolic reinforcement of programmatic work at an organizational level. Evolving internal policies will include revising LEAP’s existing diversity statement, adopted and signed each year by LEAP’s board of directors to reaffirm and reemphasize LEAP’s organizational commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in all internal and external processes.
Building partnerships with the communities LEAP intends to serve through DEEP will be essential to cultivate trust and ensure the solutions and strategies implemented are beneficial and effective. The development of economic competency, and the subsequent increased economic empowerment and business growth, will be a key outcome of partnerships with the existing business community and organizations that represent and advocate for the interests of DEEP’s intended service population.
Partnership priorities for DEEP’s first year include supporting the reconstitution of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Melanated Business Alliance.
Programs will focus on converting Doing Business As entities (DBA) to Limited Liability Companies (LLC), supply chain advancement and cooperative enterprise/business creation (co-op) as the primary business development strategies to increase ownership and successful business outcomes among historically underserved communities.
Currently, LEAP’s equity-focused programming includes One and All, an inclusive entrepreneurship initiative launched in 2020 and The Hatching business pitch competition series. Together these programs are designed to increase successful entrepreneurship and small-business ownership among historically underrepresented populations and those who are struggling to maintain a basic cost of living and are open to residents of Clinton, Eaton, Ingham and Shiawassee counties.