Cities pitch diversity to lure businesses


Associated Press

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.

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’s 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 retailer. 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.

“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.’”

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