As we lead up to our last Forward Cities convening in Cleveland mid June, we are going to be using our monthly newsletters to feature some of the exciting work happening in each of our cities that can contribute to our collective knowledge of promising practices. We are also going to be featuring guest columnists who are thought leaders and practitioners driving forward a set of ideas that are having an impact in our cities. This month, we are honored to have a column by Johnathan Holifield, Co-Founder of ScaleUp Partners LLC with deep experience enabling inclusive entrepreneurial communities in Ohio and beyond.
 
As those who attended the Durham Forward Cities convening this December know, Johnathan presents a highly persuasive argument about why inclusive innovation is critical to our cities and nation’s overall economy. In short, as the global economy becomes increasingly competitive and the war for talent spans worldwide boundaries we can no longer afford to leave behind huge swaths of our potential innovative talent pool – namely traditionally disenfranchised women and minority populations.
 
Conversely, by harnessing the entrepreneurial talent of women and minorities and fueling their innovative output the economic upside is tremendous, as Johnathan so clearly lays out in his compelling column. Cities that fail to heed this call and don’t take intentional action to support minorities and women in their local innovation ecosystems do so at their competitive peril. Inclusive innovation, simply, is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. 
 
Also featured in this month’s newsletter is brief developed by the Urban Institute on the impact that the Forward Cities initiative is having within, and between, the participating cities. For anyone interested in participating in a multi-city learning collaborative, the emerging findings are inspiring and instructive. 
 
Though we are still in the relatively early stages of this work, we’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months about how to convene communities, catalyze honest dialogue about the opportunities and challenges related to inclusive innovation, support action on the ground, and help connect these efforts with one another.  
 
This newsletter is an opportunity to share what is happening with the hope that it helps other cities and communities become more competitive by harnessing the entrepreneurial potential of all of their citizens.
 
You can follow the unfolding conversation @forwardcities.
 
Christopher Gergen, co-founder of Forward Cities
 
Denise Byrne, co-founder of Forward Cities