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Promoting Economic Development

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Post:

12

Date:

Feb 20, 2001

From:

Dr. Randal Pinkett


Bob,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this matter, but as you're aware, I'm doing a little more running around than usual...

At 3:19 PM -0500 2/9/01, Bob Templin wrote:
>Question: Are there specific examples or vignettes we could use to reinforce >our position on the use of trusted agents in the community that have led to >applications of technology resulting in economic opportunity?

I am reminded of a session at the last CTCNet conference, entitled "So You Want to Run a Business at Your CTC: Tales from the For-Profit Front." It was a fairly impressive panel of representatives from CTCs involved with some profit-making activity at their centers, including:

  • Tony Streit, Street-Level Youth Media (IL)
  • Barbara Hartnett, RiverTech (IL)
  • Kate Snow, Codman Square Health Center (MA)
  • Roosevelt Roby, World Business Exchange (CA)
While I'm not aware to what extent these projects address the "trusted agents" issue, they do represent programs resulting in economic opportunity.

If I recall, Street-Level was running a desktop publishing/graphics operation out of their CTC, where youth from the community were the employees, and staff at Street-Level managed the marketing efforts and contracts. Barbara Hartnett may have had the most impressive operation, as she was operating a CTC, which doubled as a Kinko's-like operation. It was so successful, that other business owners were complaining that a non-profit should not do so well. I'm sure she had community members involved in her efforts. Kate is here in Boston, and is also running a Kinko's-like operation out of Codman Square, with youth (and, I think adults) who do the work. I don't think Roosevelt's contribution to the panel was as relevant as the aforementioned programs. If you would like anyone's contact information, I can obtain it from the CTCNet list of attendees. I'm sure these folks would be able to point you to additional programs.

  • You should also check into "Plugged In" who, if I understand correctly, is running a web design operation with community involvement called Pluggin In Enterprises.
  • And I'm sure you're already aware of Nick Gleason's work with CitySoft.com (for-profit, web house with underserved community members as employees) and CitySkills.org (non-profit, online resource for technology-based training and placement).
  • I don't know how successful Cisco's Networking Academies have been.
  • Lastly, I think I mentioned this in a previous e-mail, but National Urban Technology Centers (http://www.urbantech.org/), headed by Pat Bransford, has a strong reputation for doing technology-based job training and placement, in partnership with communities.
>Randal, what has been your experience on this issue, based upon your work >in Camfield Estates?

At Camfield we made every effort to work closely with the acknowledged local leadership. You comments on the importance of "trusted agents in the community" are well-grounded, and reflective of our experience there.

We spent a significant amount of time during the formative stages of the project making sure there was a two-way dialog with residents, and obtained buy-in from the tenants association. Most importantly, we have approached the project as if we do not have all of the answers. Instead, we have tried to work with people, and allow them express their opinions and assume leadership roles. It hasn't been perfect, and we are learning new things every day about what it means to bring our expertise to bear, without dictating the direction of the initiative. It is a hard balance to strike, but as long as there is mutual respect and genuine concern for others, a lot can get accomplished.

As far as outcomes such as employment/entrepreneurship/economic opportunity, we are just now devising strategies to achieve these and other outcomes. For the Fall/Winter we have focused on skill development and technology deployment (computers, internet connections, etc.). During the Spring/Summer we will focus on more targeted efforts with respect to how technology can support employment, education, business development, etc. So, I hope to have our own lessons to share in this regard in the near future.

Randal

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