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The Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity (MBCRE) was founded by area business leaders in 2020 amid the civil unrest in the months following George Floyd’s killing by local police. More than 70 businesses and organizations came together with the understanding that there was more they could do to help eliminate racial disparities in our state.
Like many of the initiatives sparked by George Floyd’s tragic death, our coalition faces challenges with maintaining momentum the farther we get from that fateful day. Although the road to racial equity is unpaved, MBCRE continues to explore ways to make a difference.
Moving towards healing
In its second year, the MBCRE dealt with the killing of Amir Locke by police serving a no-knock warrant. Still, in the midst of a pandemic, we convened a solemn healing circle via Zoom, where Dr. Joi Lewis led us in a communal ritual. More than 700 people from member companies attended virtually.
The event aligned with our Community Well-Being pillar, where one of the focus areas is public safety. In that vein, we wrote a letter to state legislators in support of public safety reform. We also ran sponsored content in this newspaper on MBCRE member GreenLight Fund Twin Cities, whose Let Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD) innovative programming offers alternatives to community support and police intervention.
MBCRE also hired a lobbyist to put more muscle behind key policy priorities; sent letters to legislators in support of The Crown Act for more inclusive workplaces; and testified in the House to advocate for investments in affordable housing and down-payment assistance.
A Black media initiative
One of the key initiatives in our Black Business Development pillar is our Black Media Initiative. Launched in early 2022, the three-year pilot program seeks to create partnerships between Black-owned media companies and MBCRE member companies.
To date, MBCRE members General Mills and Target have signed deals with local journalist Sheletta Brundidge, and she and Emmy-nominated Georgia Fort have both worked on projects with brand and marketing executive, Hillery Shay of MBCRE member Children’s Minnesota.
The wage and wealth gap
The focus of our Employment Opportunity pillar centers around efforts to hire, retain and advance Black talent in member companies. On September 20, Colette Campbell of Bremer Bank, Laurin Cathey of Children’s Minnesota and Chris Brunson from General Mills— which graciously offered the venue—looked at strategies for employees and employers to close the wage and wealth gaps in Minnesota. Pay disparities affect everything from the quality of housing one can afford; to having money to send children to college; to tapping the resources to handle an emergency.
Looking ahead to 2023
Beyond our three focus areas, MBCRE will support Black-led efforts across the state like the Black Collective Foundation MN, which has a powerful vision for Black-led change, and First Independence Bank, which recently opened its second branch on East Lake Street.
In 2023, we’ve got a lot on tap. It includes plans to partner with a number of entities around bridging the wealth gap, increasing supplier diversity, and helping to develop and retain Black employees in our member companies. We’re excited for the coming year!
We welcome your thoughts, feedback and suggestions. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.