CHICAGO – How best to accelerate the nation’s economic recovery to benefit disproportionately impacted urban communities was the debate as more than 500 local business and community leaders turned out for the Chicago Urban League’s annual summit.
Chicago Urban League President and CEO Andrea L. Zopp urged local leaders to endorse the National Urban League’s 12-point plan to restore jobs in urban communities during the Chicago Urban League’s annual luncheon Summit 2011: Accelerating the Economic Recovery at the Hilton Chicago. The summit featured a keynote address by National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, remarks from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and a roundtable discussion about job creation and workforce investment with executives from the City Colleges of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Microsoft Corporation.
“We have seen hopeful signs and heard announcements that companies are increasing their hiring. But far too many are still out of work, especially in the African American community,” Zopp said. “We must consider the broader, disproportionate impact the recession is having on African Americans and how we can speed the recovery in very specific ways that don’t leave our communities behind. A full economic rebound will not occur without our participation.”
Following opening remarks from Chicago Urban League board chairman Anthony K. Anderson, Vice Chair and Midwest Managing Partner of Ernst & Young, Mayor Daley addressed the gathering of about 500 community, civic, business, religious and elected leaders. Morial’s keynote address focused on the National Urban League’s 2011 State of Black America report, a detailed analysis of the recession’s impact on the African American community, economic recovery and the future of jobs in America. Morial went over the fine points of the National Urban League’s Jobs Rebuild America 12-point plan that makes the following recommendations that are being endorsed in communities across the country:
1) Restore the Summer Youth Jobs Program
2) Create 100 urban jobs academies
3) Develop a national public-private jobs initiative
4) Boost minority participation in information technology and communications industries
5) Reform, revise and reauthorize the federal Workforce Investment Act
6) Create Green Empowerment Zones
7) Expand small business lending
8) Initiate tax reform
9) Establish and promote multilateral international trade policies
10) Enact the Urban Jobs Act
11) Create an Urban Homesteading Program
12) Fund direct job creation
In addition, Zopp presented the Chicago Urban League’s latest research paper, Accelerating the Economic Recovery, which included recommendations on how to ensure a more inclusive recovery in the Chicago region by:
· Training our workforce for jobs in sectors that will see growth in employment opportunities.
· Expanding training for entry into healthcare-related fields, the only sector that has sustained growth throughout the recession.
· Reforming the way public schools are funded to provide better resources and produce better outcomes.
· Investing in workforce development training in Chicago Public Schools, starting on the secondary level and spreading across a range of occupations.
A highlight of the luncheon was a roundtable discussion on employment training, job creation and workforce investment. Panelists were Cheryl Hyman, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago; Warren Ribley, Director, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; and Shelley Stern, Citizenship Director, Microsoft Corporation. The panel was moderated by ABC 7 Chicago news anchor Cheryl Burton. Zopp concluded the summit by issuing a charge to those in attendance to continue advocating for job opportunities and workforce investment on the local, state and federal levels.