Forward Cities and ScaleUp Partners announced today a partnership to raise awareness of under-connected entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation ecosystem development in four U.S. cities: New Orleans, Detroit, Durham and Cleveland.

Launched in June 2014, Forward Cities is a multi-city, national learning collaborative that helps local innovators connect with one another while taking on the challenge of improving economic outcomes of under-connected business and social entrepreneurs. ScaleUp Partners is a national advocacy and consultancy firm creating competitive communities. Its work is grounded in Inclusive Competitiveness® – a framework to empower underserved communities to compete in the Innovation Economy.

“ScaleUp supports our four-city learning collaborative by providing actionable tools to re-think how to improve the outcomes and impact of under-connected business and social entrepreneurs and  enterprises,” said Christopher Gergen, co-founder of Forward Cities. “We welcome the experience and expertise ScaleUp brings to our diverse team of local innovators and strategists.”

Forward Cities addresses a multi-generational problem of economic distress — particularly in communities of color — and scarcity of available resources. The Forward Cities collaborative will augment regional innovation and economic competitiveness by extending resources to under-connected areas and promoting investments in new infrastructure to cultivate successful entrepreneurship outcomes. Business and social venture productivity growth can create new jobs, wealth and improved quality of life in underserved communities, while creating more inclusive and innovative economies.

As a Forward Cities partner, ScaleUp joins several other organizations in the four participating cities that share the Forward Cities’ mission of inclusive innovation. The partnership with ScaleUp is designed to elevate visibility of inclusive innovation ecosystem development through a process of storytelling. These stories will be shared with media to inform local, regional and national audiences about the national learning collaborative to advance under-connected business and social entrepreneurship. This process will include multimedia profiles of emerging entrepreneurs and community leaders in each city, as well as a comprehensive case study of the Forward Cities initiative.

“In a sense, we are bilingual economic strategists,” ScaleUp co-founder, Mike Green said. “We speak and understand the vernacular of today’s innovation economy leaders and stakeholders while still fluent in the language dominant in communities that are disconnected from it. We serve as a communications and action bridge, connecting existing 20th century economic models to the innovation economy, which drives U.S. economic competitiveness. We are excited to lend our expertise to Forward Cities.”

“The benefits of Forward Cities will extend far beyond the four participating cities,” ScaleUp co-founder Johnathan Holifield said. “And we are thrilled to contribute the depth and diversity of our experience to this groundbreaking national learning collaborative.”