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|Articles - July/August 2012|
|Monday, July 09, 2012|
Page 1 of 5
BY LINDA BAKER
Every weekday morning, Mike Green gets up at 6 a.m. to feed his 14-month-old son, Josiah, a banana. Then he hands his son off to his wife, Emily, and is on the computer by 7:30, at which point he starts making conference calls and Skyping. He begins with his East Coast contacts and works his way west as the day progresses.
By the afternoon, he’s moved on to Portland and Silicon Valley. He usually works until late at night and into the early morning hours. Sometimes he works through the night.
The 50-year-old Green, who has been following a version of the same routine for more than a year, has yet to earn much money for his 24/7 labors. He works out of his home office: the living room of a three-bedroom rented apartment in Medford that he shares with Emily, Josiah and 12-year-old daughter, Madison.
Green’s financial circumstances may be modest, but the task he is working on is ambitious and wide-ranging. A cofounder of the America21 Project, an Ohio-based national nonprofit launched 18 months ago, he aims to correct what he considers one of the critical problems facing this country: the disconnect between black America and today’s tech-driven economy. In the past decade, much of the new wealth creation and job growth in the United States has occurred in the startup technology sectors. “But those types of innovations and market disruptions are not happening across black America,” says Green, who is also a part-time blogger. The reasons “are systemic, historical and institutional, and someone has to address it.”
Programs that try to correct the economic inequities plaguing African-American communities are nothing new. But America21 is one of the first groups to target high-tech and Internet ventures, and to try and create a comprehensive solution focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, as well as access to risk capital and “high-growth” entrepreneurship.
In the past year, America21 has generated a remarkable amount of attention and excitement locally and nationally — from community leaders in cities around the country to White House policymakers. The group’s rapid ascension is due in no small part to Green’s ability to wrap together disparate phenomena, from the achievement gap in K-12 education to the dearth of black angel networks, into a sweeping aspirational narrative about 21st-century wealth building in America’s inner cities.
“No one in recent memory has come out with such articulate, explicit connections,” says Patrick Quinton, the executive director of the Portland Development Commission (PDC), who met Green this past winter at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast hosted by The Skanner newspaper at the Oregon Convention Center. Green, the keynote speaker, came to Portland after local business and community leader James Posey read what he described as a “very exciting” editorial that Green had written a few months earlier for The Oregonian. “There’s a synergy to this idea, a way of putting things together, that is unique,” Posey says.
America21 is a national organization with national objectives. But the America21 story is also a singular Oregon story, about a black man helping orchestrate a leading-edge urban economic development movement from a “cow patch,” as Chad Womack, Green’s Philadelphia-based America21 colleague, describes Medford. In the coming year, the team also hopes to launch one of the organization’s breakout initiatives — an “urban innovation roundtable” — in Portland, a city often described as one of the whitest metropolitan centers in the country.
Organizing a movement from a rural Oregon home office — or coffee shop — is no easy task, acknowledges Green, who moved from Houston to Medford in 2004 to be closer to his wife’s family. But his physical, demographic and economic isolation also spotlights the issues America21 seeks to resolve.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK
The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.
Friday, August 14, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.
Friday, October 02, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Bill Levy of Pacific Ag talked to Oregon Business about new residue markets, the company’s growth strategy and why a biofuel plant is like a large cow.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER
Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction.
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