A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
President Joe Biden is expected to pitch his $2 trillion infrastructure plan this week in Pittsburgh. First of all, what a great moment. Americans have been craving a mission beyond money for decades. Knitting together the United States for a sustainable future seems a grand one.
This is going to dominate our news for months, as we see whether the plan makes it through Congress. Economist Joseph Stiglitz told Axios he thinks the infusion of money will help reset the U.S. economy out of its low-growth, low-inflation world and create a new, more egalitarian world.
The doubters say it’s too much money and doubt that it can make American a more equal, happier society. Lately, all we seem able to do on a grand scale is get more money into the pockets of billionaires: The combined wealth of the nation’s 657 billionaires increased more than $1.3 trillion, or 44.6%, since the lockdown, according to Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies.
Those numbers put the $2 trillion plan into perspective, don’t they?
Here are a couple of things we’re following in the plan:
• $150 billion in funding for projects aimed at upgrading electrical grids (we cover innovations already in motion off the grid, below)
• Billions to expand broadband in rural America.
• $10 billion for states to use to increase financing for entrepreneurs. I wrote the about the danger of states being seduced by the bright lights of the Silicon Valley venture model here.
To be blunt, I’m not OK with taxpayer dollars going to enrich already-well-off White men just because they are in Nebraska and not New York. Some of that’s going to happen, but let’s not make that the main goal, please. Not at this moment of opportunity to do so much more. But to change the fabric of our country, we need to restructure, not the power system, or the broadband system, but the finance system. That is about inviting more people into the formal economy, helping others get financing and building trust between the insiders and the excluded groups. Among other things, it’s about recognizing where the true power and numbers of New Builders are.
It’s also about questioning what we value: innovation, people and community, or returns in dollar form. As we’re debating the infrastructure plan, part of the debate should be how we measure its success.
This week, Times of E, which is just over one year old, welcomes its first section sponsor, YPO. As Women’s Month winds to a close, please read the commentaries by two YPO members, Dr. Mary Gunn and Kerry Siggins, about funding for diseases that affect women’s health, and about expanding employee ownership of businesses.
Times of Entrepreneurship Stories of the Week
How Climate Innovators Are Bypassing The Grid
One big problem: A lack of incentives for utilities to incorporate new technology. So companies are taking matters into their own hands: Meet a handful at the forefront of change, from solar storage and climate finance to the insurance business.
Decrying the ‘Model Minority’ Myth, Asian American VCs Raise More Than $1M To Stop Hate Crime
Donations surged after the Atlanta shooting and a year of increasing hate crimes.
The Hub: The Mystery of Inclusive Ecosystems, EforAll Plants Stake In NW Arkansas, and Buzz Builds In Tampa
In cities with the most investors focused on funding diverse founders, much of the money is not getting to underrepresented entrepreneurs, according to new research. Plus, the Lowell, Mass.-based accelerator EforAll launches programs in both English and Spanish in Northwest Arkansas, and Brian Murphy becomes board chair at Embarc Collective, a Tampa-Fla.-based incubator.
Commentaries Sponsored By YPO
Employee Ownership Is An Untapped Weapon Against Income Inequality
StoneAge, a manufacturing firm in Durango, Calif., has found its ESOP not only helps address income inequality but contributes to a culture where employees quickly go into overdrive to overcome challenges, like a ransomware attack that shut down all of its IT systems. CEO Kerry Siggins believes that Colorado’s model for encouraging employee ownership could help other states help workers build wealth.
How A Lack Of Diversity Among Clinical-Trial Regulators Puts Women’s Lives At Risk
Mary Gunn, COO of Health Decisions, a full-service contract research organization, points to a critical roadblock to new device and drug development: A lack of gender diversity among regulators who approve clinical trials.
Zeitgeist: What Are Sperm Telling Us? Sperm counts of Western men dropped 59% from 1973 to 2011 by one estimate. To find out exactly why, researchers are focusing more closely on the generational impacts of endocrine disruptors, found in products such as plastics. One neuroendocrinology professor predicts, “I do not see humans becoming extinct, but I do see family lines ending for a subset of people who are infertile,” in this piece in the New York Times.
Buzzworthy: The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI
Marcus du Sautoy, a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, does a deep dive into artificial intelligence and algorithmic learning—and what they have to do with the future of creativity—in this fascinating book.
Made in the USA:
If you’ve got to go back into the office or a coworking space, you may be looking for a way to get to work that doesn’t involve public transit just yet. Detroit Bikes offers an answer with its B-Type Commuter Bike, designed for “all-purpose city riding.”
Coming up next week: Top Ecosystems in a Remote World
How To Get A Bank Loan As A Black Man
Money is still more local than we realize. That’s one lesson from former NBA player Jerome Williams, whom we featured last week for his new platform that aims to enable athletes to better control their intellectual property as the NCAA moves to loosen rules on how much athletes can earn. But Black men and women still navigate systemic racism, which is often hidden, even as they go about standard tasks like securing a bank loan or negotiating a higher salary.
Williams advises finding a human solution to a very human problem. “I like to remember that network is directly tied to your net worth. One way to combat that red tape is engaging with a larger network or community in order to establish meaningful connections with potential advocates,” he said by email. He advises people applying for a bank loan to find a local advocate, perhaps the person who leads the diversity and inclusion arm at the Chamber of Commerce, or the leader of a spiritual or religious group, or a local politician. Ask for a letter of recommendation.