Good Jobs, Good Employers Essential for Inclusive Cities
In a time of historic income inequality, after a decade in which most American workers experienced stagnant or declining hourly wages, and as jobs are increasingly either high- or low-wage, the current challenge for the United States economy is evident: improving job quality. Creating jobs is not adequate to addressing our economy’s trajectory towards inequality and a diminished working class. Creating good jobs is imperative.
Cities, including Oakland, CA, are increasingly taking direct action to create high quality jobs. Citizens of Oakland, ranked the seventh most unequal city in the United States, recently demonstrated their commitment to economic equity by passing a minimum wage increase from $9 to $12.25. Inner City Advisors (ICA) is working within this growing movement of addressing job quality at the local level through innovative economic development – addressing both the employer and employee sides of the equation. ICA partners with small, locally-owned businesses that have a high potential for job growth to ensure that the jobs they create are good jobs.
To ICA CEO, Jose Corona, good jobs mean jobs that pay living wages, offer benefits, and provide career ladders. Yet working at the intersection of entrepreneurship support and talent management, Corona’s organization knows that growing “Good Jobs” starts with scaling successful businesses – creating “Good Employers”. That’s why ICA continually refines its model in order to grow thriving companies, create good jobs quickly and sustainably, and ensure that local community members have access to those jobs. This work has enabled ICA to partner with some of the Bay Area’s most innovative companies, with leaders committed to both running a successful business and providing quality jobs.
An ICA company for the last eight years, Blue Bottle Coffee Company, an Oakland-based roastery, has coupled its increasing dominance of the Bay Area coffee market with a commitment to its employees. As Blue Bottle increased its number of employees by 103% between 2010 and 2013, the company paid employees an average of $13.25 per hour – 33% above the $9.90 average hourly wage for coffee shop workers in Oakland and above the newly implemented minimum wage in Oakland. In addition to having access to healthcare, dental care, and sick days, almost a quarter of Blue Bottle employees received increased wages or additional hours in 2013.
Revolution Foods, a company ICA has partnered with since 2005, is another success story. Revolution Foods has worked towards its mission of providing all school kids healthy and nutritious lunches, while paying above industry average wages for over 1,000 employees.
Finding that access to capital is critical to growing good jobs, ICA launched a capital fund – Fund Good Jobs – to support partner companies. Now a separate 501c3 organization helmed by Managing Director, Sean Murphy, the Fund has to date deployed over $1 million in investments to Oakland companies, enabling companies to create good jobs by using capital as a way to influence and incentivize small businesses to invest in impact – creating good jobs.
In addition to working with Fund Good Jobs’ unique mix of capital, ICA also positions companies to access funding from a broad array of sources. Case in point: Revolution Foods recently secured investment from Steve Case’s Revolution Growth fund, while in early 2014 Blue Bottle closed over $25MM in funding from funds like Google Ventures, True Ventures, Twitter founder Evan Williams, and Instagram co-creator Kevin Systrom. ICA companies like Blue Bottle and Revolution Foods are proving that mainstream investors will support not only strong, innovative businesses, but also those with a commitment to creating good jobs for local residents.
Job creation is important for the economy. Good Employers and Good Job creation is essential for an inclusive economy, and thus has become a critical aspect of economic development work at the city level. The work of ICA, which in 2013 alone created and retained 2,717 jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.50, is proving the viability and impact of innovative companies committed to creating good jobs for the benefit of local communities.
 Occupational Employment Statistics. (May 2013). Oakland-Fremont-Hayward Metropolitan Division. May 2012 estimate for Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop.
 QWI. (2012). Average Monthly Earnings. 2012 Quarter 2. Alameda County. Food Services and Drinking Places.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Social distancing is becoming the new normal, at least for those of us who are heeding the Center for Disease Control’s warnings and guidelines. But if you don’t have reliable, high-speed broadband, it is impossible to engage in what is now the world’s largest telecommunity. As many schools and universities around the world (including those of my kids) are shut down, these institutions are optimistically converting to online and digital learning. However, with our current broadband layout, this movement will certainly leave many Americans behind.
Accenture analysts recently released a report calling for cities to take the lead in creating coordinated, “orchestrated” mobility ecosystems. Limiting shared services to routes that connect people with mass transit would be one way to deploy human-driven services now and to prepare for driverless service in the future. Services and schedules can be linked at the backend, and operators can, for example, automatically send more shared vehicles to a train station when the train has more passengers than usual, or tell the shared vehicles to wait for a train that is running late.
Managing urban congestion and mobility comes down to the matter of managing space. Cities are characterized by defined and restricted residential, commercial, and transportation spaces. Private autos are the most inefficient use of transportation space, and mass transit represents the most efficient use of transportation space. Getting more people out of private cars, and into shared feeder routes to and from mass transit modes is the most promising way to reduce auto traffic. Computer models show that it can be done, and we don’t need autonomous vehicles to realize the benefits of shared mobility.
The role of government, and the planning community, is perhaps to facilitate these kinds of partnerships and make it easier for serendipity to occur. While many cities mandate a portion of the development budget toward art, this will not necessarily result in an ongoing benefit to the arts community as in most cases the budget is used for public art projects versus creating opportunities for cultural programming.
Rather than relying solely on this mandate, planners might want to consider educating developers with examples and case studies about the myriad ways that artists can participate in the development process. Likewise, outreach and education for the arts community about what role they can play in projects may stimulate a dialogue that can yield great results. In this sense, the planning community can be an invaluable translator in helping all parties to discover a richer, more inspiring, common language.