Last week I had a pleasure of sitting with my friend and fellow business leader and philanthropist Tip (you know him as hitmaker, music legend and entertainer Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris) and brilliant moderator Rose Scott, at the closing of Smart City Expo Atlanta 2019.
We tackled a range of issues but most everything focused on the lead for any leading city today to seed and center itself on leadership, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, ownership and ‘what it takes’ for everyone to win and to ‘come up’ in urban cities of the future.
The session and discussion was probably strongest for and around what it didn’t discuss — no focus on racism, bias, discrimination and systemic challenges that we all know exist. Instead, we focused on what we can do — how we can still move the needle of empowerment, wealth creation and change in and for our communities in spite of these realities.
T.I., Rose and I did our best to navigate the discussion and attendees from a reality on the streets, to the aspiring new heights that come from taking their rightful place in the suites of American commerce, economy and business. We debated how this path will likely be different for different people, but we passionately agreed (T.I and I) that the new color is actually green (not white, black, red, brown or yellow).
We focused the audience on solutions in and for their lives — things sitting right in front of them right now — such as buying, rehabbing and renting (or living in) a modest property in close proximity of an urban downtown where jobs exist, to starting a small business in that same neighborhood (with the help of a financial coach such as those in HOPE Inside locations throughout Atlanta and across the country), coming CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) Reform, and the coming wave of capital and revitalization coming our way from and through QOZ’s (Qualified Opportunity Zones).
Rose spoke pointedly to the challenge when she asked ‘how do we get the word out to the masses?’ Letting the general public know what’s going on right in their own communities and acting on it — as relates to untapped opportunity — is the challenge.
I underscored a similar challenge present in almost every one of our communities of color; almost all of our problems lie in 500 credit score communities, irrespective of racial makeup, and 700 credit score communities don’t riot. And that the world of Operation HOPE is moving credit scores 120 points over a 24 month period.
Our message to the audience was simple — the best is yet to come. MAKE SURE YOU PARTICIPATE. And don’t hate on others who do it, if we do not. Go see a HOPE Financial Coach at a HOPE Inside location today! All services there are free.
John Hope Bryant, entrepreneur and founder, Operation HOPE.