In an American Experiment symposium released last fall, 20 writers grappled with the question of what it would take for them to start or expand a business in a low-income neighborhood. A main rationale for that exercise was the economic fact of life that unless commerce in a neighborhood, or at least in its vicinity, is healthy, chances are that little else will be healthy either, including poverty rates, crime rates, and graduation rates, to pick just three gauges. The not-unrelated new question, considered here by 23 participants, is how we might better encourage and reinforce the most talented and entrepreneurial among us; a core motivation this time being the pivotal importance of creating many more jobs and much more wealth so as to enable the nation to make it through the coming decades of aging-boomer and entitlement-skewed exigencies.
Why this new American Experiment symposium? For a variety of reasons, starting with the assumption that unless commerce in a neighborhood—or at least in its vicinity—is vibrant, chances are little else will be either, including income levels, public safety, and graduation rates, to pick just three gauges.