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KABA Speaker Urges Group to Address Equity Issues

Apr. 13, 2021 10:15p

(WGTD)---At the annual meeting of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance Tuesday, the usual statistical review of business development data from the past year shared the spotlight with calls for the organization to address equity issues. 

KABA President Todd Battle told an audience of both in-person and online attendees that the community is falling short in areas of educational and income attainment, population growth and health. All this, despite an ongoing industrial and commercial building boom and impressive job creation numbers.

The featured speaker expounded on some of the needs that were identified by Battle.  

John Roberts, a managing director of a national economic development firm, TIP Strategies, said Kenosha, in order to maximize its potential, needs to address issues of race and the gap in income and wealth. "It's really an economic challenge that we have to address," Roberts said. "And I say we have to address it because the things that make us a stable community...can't be achieved when these gaps aren't bridged," he said. 

As an example, Roberts cited a national statistic indicating that applicants for mortgages who are Black are twice as likely to be rejected as white applicants.

He urged the business leaders to start thinking differently about such things as broadband development, affordable housing creation and social equity issues. 

And then there are issues of what he called "institutional betrayal" that are felt primarily by millennials. Roberts said they're asking questions about such things as why cheap car loans are available yet they're still paying interest on student loans that are as high as 8%.