Economy Jackson - United Way Supporting Legacy Businesses in Atlanta's West End

Kevin Wilson, who has taken a leading role in AWER’s Microbusiness Program begun by Mark Newman, presented Ms. Economy Jackson, Director of Asset Building and Income for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, as our speaker. She began by noting that Milton Little, president of Untied Way, frequently quotes Africans, who upon greeting a fellow countryman ask, “And how are the children?” … usually met with the response, “The children are well.” If the children are well, it is taken as an indicator that the entire community is thriving. For Milton and other observers of UW’s 13 county area, too often if asked, the honest answer is, “Not that well.” One review of the economics shows large numbers in poverty. The Federal poverty rate – income for a family of four being $24K, the national poverty rate standing at 13%, for Georgia it is 15% and for Atlanta it is 22%, affecting 124,160 adults in poverty, visiting keen hardships on children. Economy says we must enable people to increase income and their wealth to arrive at a good level of family stability. She wants educated Atlantans to realize that having access to a Section 8 voucher to obtain a home at a subsidized rate is not financial well being. She says workforce and job development, and affordable housing are vital needs for large numbers of our citizens. She’s involved in the Westside Beltline Working Group. This organization is a ‘transformational investment’ for black business owners, residents, and neighborhoods Success includes minimizing displacement and increasing work and housing options for more people, who need to remain in the neighborhood for their children’s schooling and jobs. Another major effort centers on increasing opportunities for entrepreneurship. Specifically, Economy’s leading a short-term plan to engage at least 15 people so inclined. She has an immediate goal to ensure applicants have good literacy levels and can work with her to develop business plans – actually, aiming at people who’ve been in business for two years, so they can propel themselves to a better future. Kevin Wilson volunteers to support Economy’s work by helping persons organize their financial situation, which includes untangling co-mingled home and business finances. Kevin also added that linking AWER’s Micropreneur program with United Way’s program led by Economy makes sense and is being explored. UW’s goal is to move people to at least 300% of the federal poverty level. Economy reported on other vigorously pursued initiatives by United Way: Asset Building and Preservation, because a home is basic to wealth building; the Financial Capability Network – instructing enrollees in better management of finances through 6 hours of financial education followed up by one-on-one coaching for at least six months; expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is linked to United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – promoting professional free tax preparation services – VITA is seen as another way to build financial stability throughout the community.

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
January 3, 2020 2:00pm