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Cities Pitch Diversity to Lure Business02/18 11:29

   (AP) -- Some cities and regions are highlighting racial diversity along with 
positive business climates, competitive tax rates and available land in pitches 
to lure tech companies and high-paying jobs to town.

   Places such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Detroit are touting their 
populations of people of color to chief executives and other corporate 
officials as part of being open for business.

   "For Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, ethnic and racial diversity 
has been an integral part of our history and a rich part of our narrative," 
said Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

   Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are among 20 cities still under consideration by 
online retail giant Amazon as locations for the company' second headquarters.

   Pashman said to succeed as a player in a global economy, Pittsburgh "must be 
a place where there's a base of talent that looks and thinks like the world 
because the world is the customer in today's economy."

   When Seattle-based Amazon sought proposals for its second headquarters, more 
than 240 cities and regions submitted bids and pitches about what they could 
offer the online retail giant. Many pitches came with sleek, professionally 
filmed videos of bright and busy downtowns, historic landmarks and recreational 
opportunities.

   Some also featured snapshots of racial diversity in neighborhoods, shops and 
classrooms. That's something sought by younger workers who will come to 
dominate a more tech-driven global economy, according to marketing experts.

   Companies generally are looking to employ a lot of millennials and those 
hires are saying they "want to be able to work and live in a place where there 
are these interesting and diverse cultures," said Matthew Quint, director of 
Columbia Business School's Center on Global Brand Leadership.

   But tech-based corporations are lacking in diversity, according to some data.

   High-tech employment of African-Americans in the U.S. was 7.4 percent 
compared with 14.4 percent employment of blacks in the public sector overall, 
according to 2014 data collected by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity 
Commission. Hispanic high-tech employment was 8 percent compared to 13.9 
percent in the public sector overall.

   The data also showed that less than 1 percent of executives at some leading 
Silicon Valley tech firms were black and fewer than 2 percent were Hispanic.

   "All tech companies are under this lens, presently, for their lack of 
diversity," Quint said. "CEOs are talking about 'we know we need to change.'"

   Meanwhile, he said, cities recognize the racial diversity they offer is 
attractive and they're telling companies, "You are going to have this diverse 
population to choose from as you're looking to change your brand."

   Pittsburgh is in Allegheny County. About 202,000 of Pittsburgh's 305,000 
residents are white, and about 74,000 are black, according to census data. An 
additional 16,000 are Asian.

   In its pursuit of Amazon's $5 billion second headquarters project, which 
could result in possibly 50,000 jobs, Pittsburgh's video entry is titled 
"Future. Forged. For all."

   In Philadelphia's pitch to Amazon, a half-dozen or so non-white 
professionals tell why it would be the best place for the company's new 
headquarters.

   Dallas-Fort Worth also is among the 240 cities and regions to make a run at 
Amazon and also made the cut down to 20. A video that's part of Dallas-Fort 
Worth's proposal shows a boy of eastern Indian heritage holding a sign that 
reads: "Diversity."

   Detroit's pitch included a 240-page "Move Here. Move the World" book that 
featured black and other minorities who own businesses as well as Hispanic 
heritage events. But the Motor City, which is 80 percent black and anchors a 
metropolitan area that also has sizable Arab-American and Hispanic populations, 
didn't make Amazon's cut.

   Officials in Detroit say the city's promotion of its diversity didn't start 
with its run at Amazon and won't stop now that the retailer has its eyes 
elsewhere.

   "We are going to use that material as much as we can with all of our other 
business opportunities," said Jed Howbert, the city's group executive for 
Planning, Housing and Development. "We think the diversity of Detroit and the 
whole metro area is one of the most important assets we have in attracting 
companies."

   Tina Wells, founder and CEO of Haddonfield, New Jersey-based Buzz Marketing 
Group, said she's not aware of other instances in which cities pushed their 
diversity to companies like some have to Amazon. But, she said, it's "less 
about marketing a city's blackness and more about showing a city is diverse and 
open to everyone."

   "When you think about vibrant cities you want to make sure you tell people, 
'You're welcome here,'" Wells said. "I just think we're a little slow in 
reflecting what these cities look like."


(KA)

 
 
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