President of Clark-Atlanta University Gives High Marks: Review of the Book, The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness
Re-thinking the Wealth of Nations: A Vision for a New America
Review by Archon Ronald A. Johnson, PhD, President, Clark Atlanta University,(NU Boulé)
How can the United States sustain economic growth, job creation and wealth generation well into the 21st century? In his new book, The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness® (ScaleUp Partners 2017), Cleveland, Ohio’s Tau Archon Johnathan M. Holifield presents a powerful vision for a multi-racial, multicultural America to incorporate a new inclusive economic strategy demonstrably different from policies and practices of economic segregation that defined the previous century and continue to plague the nation today. Archon Holifield offers an unprecedented inclusive framework for public, private and philanthropic policymakers to use in building a stronger, collaborative, more innovative and economically competitive nation than ever before. He presents a strategic process for investing in new community infrastructure that will cultivate and grow large swaths of previously untapped talent that can bolster America’s global competitiveness well into the future.
Archon Holifield’s core thesis is that the “demographic shift” — the so-called browning of America — is both a national economic imperative as well as an extraordinary opportunity for increasing and expanding economic vitality and vibrancy throughout the United States. My own experience as a first-generation college student who has enjoyed a career in economics, banking, global investment management, and higher education is a testament to Archon Holifield’s refreshingly groundbreaking thesis that shared and enduring national prosperity results through the creation of new community systems to align underrepresented Americans with leading economic competitiveness levers.
Archon Holifield’s book, which should serve as a resource on every campus of higher education, lays bare a landscape of “regional economic competitiveness” policies strategies and plans that have existed for decades and applied with extraordinary success in dozens of regional clusters, entrepreneurial hubs and innovation ecosystems across the country. Unfortunately, these economic policies, strategies, systems and plans have not been applied to communities of color, Archon Holifield argues.
Moreover, Archon Holifield reveals the economic vernacular and lexicon used in today’s knowledge-based, tech-driven entrepreneurial ecosystems is largely absent in black and other communities of color. Communities of color don’t even speak the language of “economic competitiveness,” much less develop access ramps to existing wealth-building infrastructure (even when such infrastructure is literally next door to communities suffering from chronic economic neglect).
Archon Holifield’s extraordinary insights shape and mold a new vision, strategy and framework for empowering underrepresented populations to compete in a 21st century global economy. He has codified these ideas into what he calls, Inclusive Competitiveness® — a cohesive framework to “empower new Americans with (local and regional) tools to reach up, grab hold, and pull down value from the national and global economy.”
Informed by his unique background as a former NFL player, civil rights lawyer and advocate, leader of historic community organizations and Innovation Economy consultant, Archon Holifield’s vision is based on a compelling modern interpretation of the wealth of nations. In his view, the wealth of nations is bound up in the interconnectedness of the know-how, implementable ideas, and information networks of the various ethnic and racial groups and individuals in the economy. Simply put, with clarity and conviction born of personal experience, Archon Holifield effectively argues that the size and robustness of the future U.S. economy is a matter of best practices in a marketplace of true inclusion that increases the capacity of regional competitiveness and accelerates the growth of the national economy.
Archon Holifield describes himself as an “opportunity warrior,” summing up his diverse career as “a single intention: to prosecute a War for Opportunity.” His clear-eyed analysis and enthusiasm for the subject emanates from his prose. While reading The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness®, the sincerity of his commitment and bold vision for the future consistently came through.
LAW OF INCLUSIVE COMPETITIVENESS
The work is comprised of 10 chapters and includes a glossary of key terms and concepts to assist those who may be less familiar with the nomenclature of innovation development and national economic competitiveness. Archon Holifield never strays from his North Star, which is distilled into the “Law of Inclusive Competitiveness.” Conceding that it’s more of a “law of nature” than one enforced by courts, he propounds the Law:
“No nation can sustainably improve global economic competitiveness without growing exponentially more higher impact employees and higher growth entrepreneurs— which requires the inclusion of disconnected citizens—who create and take advantage of these improved economic conditions.”
The Law makes clear “that resilient national economic prosperity for the U.S. is only possible when a larger percentage of Americans are higher impact employees who contribute disproportionately more value to their employers (through creative problem-solving and improved productivity) and higher growth entrepreneurs who create jobs at accelerated rates.” The key to opening the door to these new contributions is for the private and public sectors to embrace and engage strategies of economic inclusion and competitiveness at local, regional and national levels.
Archon Holifield’s narrative, concepts and frameworks are multidisciplinary, expressive of a broad range of eclectic voices and thinkers, including echoes of Archon Benjamin E. Mayes, who espoused our duty to reconstruct any unequal or inequitable system; the explorations of Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter, whose pioneering work is redefining economic competitiveness to measure not only business productivity, but also improvements in living standards; and the passion of Archon Freeman A. Hrabowski III to close STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) achievement gaps. Moreover, perhaps his singular contribution, Archon Holifield weaves these and other diverse themes into an interdisciplinary tapestry that wonderfully hangs together, creating an imminently actionable framework.
The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness® is an enjoyable read and powerful academic resource for educating the nation on how economic inclusion and competitiveness can define our future economy. My own experience tells me that the future economy is Inclusive Competitiveness.
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