A lack of minorities in the local technology sector could threaten Northeast Ohio’s ability to compete in the regional economy. Akron Community Foundation’s Community Investment department recently invited a number of local leaders to the table to discuss a report by Policy Bridge, a Cleveland-based African-American think tank, whose “Fusion of Inclusion” report addresses this issue, which will be even more critical to remedy as competition mounts for high-growth technology jobs in the near future.
The technology sector will flourish over the next five to 10 years, but “when we look at who the entrepreneurs are, nowhere do we see minorities in the mix,” said Randell McShepard, from Policy Bridge and a co-author of the report. “There is underperformance of African-American and Latino populations in this field. You can’t move forward and leave this subset behind.”
There are significant disparities for minorities in employment, entrepreneurship, engagement and education, said Gregory Brown, also from Policy Bridge. With employment, area minorities are less likely to hold management positions. As entrepreneurs, said Brown, minorities face a host of barriers, from lack of access to funding to disjointed business advice.
“The lack of mentors also is a real challenge,” said Brown.
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