Insight April 2014 News 
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HuffPo Highlight
"¡Si Se Puede!
(Yes We Can)"

During the 2008 campaign that propelled Barack Obama into the presidency, then candidate Obama often invoked the phrase "Yes We Can!"

The slogan turned out to be a winning, if unlikely, reminder of the potential electoral superiority of people over money and power. It underscored the innate optimism -- indeed, to use his own description, the sheer "audacity" -- of Obama's claim to the presidency.

Obama's success showed that the little guy could still win in America, despite mounting evidence that our national agenda is being increasingly shaped by a diminishing circle of the world's wealthiest and most powerful insiders...

Insight Center Wins Important Public Contracts

In recent weeks, under the leadership of our workforce development program director, Jack Mills, and with assistance from program manager Jim Torrens, we received notification from the Mississippi River Transportation, Logistics and Distribution Consortium that the Insight Center has been selected to help facilitate next stage regional workforce and economic development in eight states. Under the Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Consortium contract, we will facilitate development of sector strategies by nine community colleges and their partner organizations in states along the Mississippi River from Illinois to Louisiana. The contract, for nearly $250,000, builds upon the network and staff expertise of the National Network of Sector Partners, Insight's workforce development initiative. The contract will enable the Center to enhance its focus on fee-for-service public contracts as an important added zone of influence in our evolving work.

Taking Care of Business

The past month has been an especially busy one at the Insight Center. Our leading program efforts and evolving activities have us producing more new content and insights worthy of our name. We are happy, as always, to fill you in here on our latest news and plans.

New Minority and Women's Business Enterprise Report

As part of our ongoing tracking and reporting of policy and practice trends in minority- and women-owned business enterprise, the Insight Center has recently finalized a new report on public contracting trends across the national field, titled Economic Development in Diverse Communities: Inclusive Business Procurement in Cities and Towns.

The report shows that government procurement programs that expand diverse enterprise participation in leading U.S. jurisdictions remain strong and effective across the nation, despite recently passed laws in some states disqualifying racial, ethnic, and gender preferences from public contract award processes. Such programs are helping to enhance job, income, and wealth mobility for historically-excluded segments of the national population, while also adding overall to the nation’s slow but upward movement towards full recovery from the 2008 Great Recession.

The report, principally co-authored by Insight Center senior consultants Tim Lohrentz and Aimee Chitayat, features a review of the nation’s top 40 cities and counties relative to their current practice and performance in the diverse procurement field. Click here to download a one page summary.

In partnership with leading entities like the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity, the Insight Center will be building on the report’s findings through a series of allied leadership exchanges via webinars, opeds, and executive workshops. 


Small Child Care Providers Report Released in Partnership with United Way of Southeastern Louisiana

Last week, the United Way of Southeastern Louisiana released a draft of a new Insight Center report focusing on the landscape of currently-unregulated small child care providers in the state of Louisiana. The report, titled A Road Map to Success: Ensuring Children in Small Childcare Settings are Safe and Ready for Kindergarten, highlights a disturbing absence of regulatory standards to ensure safe, quality care by providers serving six unrelated children or fewer. Louisiana is the only southern state currently operating without regulations for settings of this size, and is thus the subject of growing concern among state parents’ and children's rights advocacy groups.

The report, authored by Insight senior consultant Aimee Chitayat and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, suggests opportunities to improve Louisiana small child care provider settings through various state measures, including instituting  minimum standards of quality and safety, and incentivizing performance.

Child care services across the nation have a growing influence on small business economies and on children’s readiness to learn, as well as their productive socialization—all of which ultimately improve a region’s economic vitality. Click here for a draft copy of the full report.  

We are very excited about and proud of these new additions to our national portfolio of activities. Please join the conversation about these and other related Insight activities on Facebook and Twitter -- progress begins with educated dialogue!

With enduring gratitude,

Henry A. J. Ramos
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