TAP’s Top 5 Innovative Cities for African-Americans

April 5, 2010  |  

by China N. Okasi

Innovation is a term that economists still struggle to define when trying to quantify and qualify growth as well as change and evolution in the business world. In a way, there is no simple and direct measure of innovation but here at TAP, we’ve taken a shot at outlining our own criteria for innovation and compiling a list of the five most innovative African-American cities in the U.S. Our ratings systems consists of the city’s entrepreneurship rates, social brand, and political leadership. To be fair, we’ve included employment rates in the ratings, and subtracted points for low African-American unemployment rates. The following American cities, in essence, foster creativity, entrepreneurship and act as centers for positive African-American growth.

5.  Twin Cities, Minnesota
Black entrepreneurship rates in the twin cities are quite impressive. According to the most recent Survey of Business Owners conducted by the U.S. Economic Census, black-owned firms grew by 95 percent in Minnesota from 1997 to 2002 (they practically doubled).

In addition, we were impressed by the Minneapolis Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD)’s commitment to African-American entrepreneurship. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Consortium awarded 58 percent of its new loans in 2005 to African American-owned businesses. The Consortium also created new loans for black muslim entrepreneurs whose beliefs had prohibited them from borrowing money with “interest” attached to it!

As for social brand, the fusion of Somali and other African immigrants with the African-American base has created a powerful 21st century social brand in those cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis). In the political arena, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak scored points for his three-time election on a populist platform. We’ll see what happens as Rybak runs for governor this year.

The unemployment rate for black men and women in the Twin Cities was disturbingly high at 14.1%, according to City-data.com, but not as high as many other cities in this list that have seen African-Americans struggle amidst recession.

Overall Score: 3.0

Entrepreneurship——4.0

Social brand————-3.0

Political Leadership—3.0

Employment————-2.0

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