BMO EMpower Summit 2021
On November 16, 2021, BMO hosted the EMpower Summit. The theme was "Accelerating Access to Capital: Building a More Inclusive Economy."
The event featured several panels where business and community leaders shared their thoughts on a variety of topics impacting minority communities.
Scaling up Investment for Equitable Communities
As more companies and families seek to locate in urban environments, the need for sustainable and affordable infrastructure is at an all-time high. Public/private partnerships, policy reform and financing models can help shape a city to address social and economic inequalities amongst vulnerable communities:
This panel discussed:
- What are the current trends in Chicago urban development and are they doing enough?
- What types of urban investments make the biggest difference in underserved communities?
- How the acceleration of affordable housing in urban areas creates stronger communities
Building the Most Equitable Tech City
Technology is where the most lucrative jobs are going to be. To create more diversity, equity, and inclusion as a city, means to embed DEI in the tech ecosystem for both Black and Latinx aspiring tech founders and tech talent. This is not simply an issue of fairness and opportunity; it also represents a critical imperative for innovation and business growth. This panel will discuss:
- Chicago's collective goal in becoming the most diverse tech ecosystem in the world and our unique gaps/strengths.
- The top actions Chicago needs to take to make this goal a reality.
- What we can learn from other tech hubs in the country.
Driving Change Through Investing
The disparity in access to capital for black and brown founders is well documented as is the low number of black and brown leaders in private equity and venture investing. But promising trends have begun and disruptive solutions are being put into play to drive change. In this session, leaders of color in the investment space will share their thoughts on implementing innovative strategies to bridge the resource and capital gap for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.
Philanthropy Impact in a Post Pandemic World
The pandemic dealt the Chicago region a devastating set of interrelated health, economic and social crises. Nowhere were its effects felt worse than in Black and Latinx communities, where disparate financial and health outcomes were already the norm after decades of disinvestment, systemic racism and structural inequities.
This panel of philanthropic leaders will explore how one of the deepest and most unequal recessions in modern history also presents an opportunity to build back in ways that advance prosperity for all.
A Conversation with Founders
Voice of the Entrepreneur
Despite the economic hardships experienced over the past two years due to Covid-19, essential industries such as restaurants, construction, professional services, retail, manufacturing, and real estate continue to fuel our local economies. During this discussion, hear from several businesses of color who have faced hardship but have also overcome given the right type of support received from business stakeholders. Participants will also learn why resources targeted to support entrepreneurs of color and to advance the entrepreneur’s access to opportunity and capital are critical.
A Fireside Chat with Don Thompson, CEO and Founder Cleveland Avenue
Don Thompson has long been a leader in advancing opportunities for Black and Brown entrepreneurs and, as the founder of venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue, the former McDonald’s CEO has seen and experienced some of the challenges minority led businesses face. His desire to address the significant issue of disparate access to capital for black and brown entrepreneurs led him to build and launch Cleveland Avenue’s CAST US fund. Andrea Zopp, Managing Partner CAST US, will lead a conversation with Mr. Thompson on some of the issues and opportunities for black and brown entrepreneurs and on his thoughts on the steps we can take to continue to drive growth for these businesses.
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