Chicago's African-American population has the city's biggest untapped economic potential and will play a key role in determining whether the city is globally competitive in the next decade, a study released Wednesday states.This article was from today's Capitol Fax morning shorts.
To realize this potential, Chicago's government and business leaders must improve academic, business and job opportunities for African-Americans, who make up 37 percent of the city's population, the Chicago Urban League report says.
"Education is critical because it is a strong determinant of individual and family income and a powerful predictor of personal success in an increasingly competitive economy," the report says. "Economic entrepreneurship is essential because it is a primary source of jobs in African-American communities and it's significance has traditionally been underestimated by policy analysts."
The study argues that by increasing access to capital for black entrepreneurs, the city could be far more effective in "unlocking the puzzle of inner-city poverty."
The study's conclusions were buttressed by a Nielsen poll of 500 African-American voters in Chicago. Of those polled, just one-quarter felt the public education system provides a quality education to students and almost a third felt the single greatest barrier to success was a lack of access to quality education.
A total of 36.3 percent polled said there was a need for more investment in African-American businesses, and 52.7 percent said they would like to start a business in their communities if financial barriers were lowered. Overall, 47.1 percent felt economic conditions for African-Americans living in Chicago would improve.
"African-Americans are hopeful about their future in Chicago. The challenge is that they lack a pathway to success," said Cheryle Jackson, president of the Chicago Urban League. "Black people believe in the American dream. They're just not sure it's for them."
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