Policy Toolkit

Inclusive Innovation Policy Toolkit

We believe that local governments have the responsibility and power to ensure all citizens participate in the economic development of their region. Therefore, we have created a comprehensive b for mayors all across the country to follow to bring inclusive growth to their cities.

Below we present six policy levers of influence city governments have.


Creating a culture in city hall that constantly has an eye toward uplifting marginalized communities is essential. Many cities are setting an example for such public policies by dedicating processes and full-time resources to promote inclusivity. Examples of such efforts include participatory budgeting processes, local procurement strategies and business-made-simple initiatives.

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Building an innovation ecosystem begins with educating citizens about entrepreneurship. Upstream efforts focus on instilling lessons of basic business practices to a community’s youth through summer internship programs. Other successful efforts include city-sponsored business training workshops for public housing residents in target communities.

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An impediment to launching a company is the process of navigating the maze of city processes and regulations. The problem is magnified for entrepreneurs in historically disenfranchised communities as they lack resources and networks to help navigate these systems. Local governments solve this issue by democratizing access to information to business owners.

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Access to external capital is one of the largest predictors of success of a startup company. However, the combination of low starting income and systematic discrimination excludes individuals from capital markets. Studies have shown that public policies can eliminate these market failures and get capital into the hands of business owners who need it most.

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Place-based economic development focuses on turning often overlooked assets of a community into strengths for future growth. Local governments can turnaround marginalized neighborhoods into spaces ripe for innovation. Examples are grant programs for repurposing vacant buildings, permissive zoning ordinances, and incubators in marginalized neighborhoods.

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The federal government has billions of dollars of resources to support small businesses for women, minorities and immigrants. Cities are often resource-constrained and would benefit greatly from increased coordination with federal government agencies. Example programs include the Commerce’s MBDA Grant Competition and the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program.

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