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Posted on July 8th, 2019 in Community Leadership Development

Inclusive growth and the future of work were recent topics at the Community & Economics Leadership Program (CELP), led by George Okantey, Extension community development educator in Marion County.

Mark Fisher, Chief Policy Officer of Indy Chamber, presented on rebuilding the dream through inclusive growth, which ensures economic growth benefits for everyone. He talked about the changing nature of our economy and the changing nature of jobs. He emphasized that our manufacturing base of the low skill high wage jobs is being replaced by a high skill high wage economy. Undergirding these systemic challenges are persistent racial disparities that have occurred due to the eroding manufacturing base of the urban core.

To maximize our regional growth, Mark stated we need to invest in inclusive growth by reskilling or upskilling through education and developing technical and skilled workers to meet the demands of current and future work demands. For this to materialize, he stressed that we need to break down barriers that limit economic opportunity and reduce the challenges that prevent leveraging of talent. Mark indicated it is crucial that we find creative ways of getting people out of poverty. He specified the racial disparities in Indianapolis and highlighted the challenges of the working poor in Indianapolis. Using the five dimensions of poverty (income, health insurance, concentrated poverty, no worker in family and level of educational attainment), Mark made a case for criminal justice reform, occupational licensing, child care, housing and finding ways to support the unbanked members of our community. He assured that the new economy will demand new skills, therefore aligning community and economic development and that building the necessary skills for current and future jobs will be the lever to access and economic opportunity.

Another expert who spoke with the group was Molly Martin, Executive director of New America, Indianapolis. She shared the shift report and gave a presentation about demographic changes, the effects of automation of jobs in Indianapolis, the role of women in the workforce and occupations that are at high or low risks to automation. Following this was a panel discussion that included Roberto Gallardo, Assistant Program Leader at PCRD, and Angela Carr Klitzsch, President and CEO of Employ Indy.

George Okantey is a Purdue Extension Community Development educator in Marion County. He can be reached at