RVA continues to attract tomorrow's leaders, working hard to position RVA as a hub of innovation for the 21st Century. In fact, RVA's "innovation economy," broadly defined as an ecosystem of "entrepreneurs, product developers, researchers, financiers, university and non-profit thought leaders, and corporate leaders," which all build RVA's growing start-up and tech sectors, is driven by an increasingly educated workforce,
Yet, in the midst of this awe-striking growth, we ask: "Whom does innovation look like in RVA?"
...We are not sure that this innovation economy is nurturing Richmond's diversity.
KEY TRENDS SHAPING RVA'S INNOVATION ECONOMY
Number of New Jobs
Percentage of Minority, Woman, Veteran Owned Businesses
Merely two years ago, the majority of companies nurtured by RVA's innovation economy were allegedly under minority, veteran, or (not and) woman leadership. Despite these growth figures, Richmond's income inequality continues to increase, and this trend is further underscores racial divides that have plagued much of RVA's history.
Media Household Income by Race (USD thousands), City of Richmond (2012-2016)
Population of City of Richmond by race/ethnicity (%), 2012
Population of City of Richmond by Race Ethnicity (%), 2016
poverty in the city by race/ethnicity (%), 2012
Poverty in the City of Richmond by Race/Ethnicity (%), 2016
Should these trends continue, RVA will miss out on a wealth of opportunity.
Richmond is ready to transcend these divides, and the solutions lie in RVA's African origins.
Looking across the Atlantic to the RV9 Countries where the Greater RVA's first enslaved Africans came, innovation ecosystems are booming. There are at least 43 tech incubators across these nine countries. RVA's innovation economy is uniquely positioned to capture the opportunities afforded by growing West Africa's tech sector. Again, the keys to sustainable growth in RVA lie in Our City's African (her)stories.