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The Great Reset #3: Race and the Role of Economic Development to Foster Equity

Date: August 11, 2020

Time: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm ET

Instructions will be emailed on Monday, August 10

Questions? Please contact webinar@iedconline.org


We are living through truly unprecedented times during which social, race and health issues are converging in a way that has everyone’s attention. How do we make sure that we come out on the other side of these combined issues better than where we started? In this IEDC supported third installment of the Great Reset webinar series, we will explore the issue of race disparity in the pandemic response, business success and entrepreneurship. More specifically, our panelists will delve deeper into the role of economic development professionals in creating social equity, opportunity and dismantling racism.

Over the course of the webinar, we’ll cover:

- Black and white-owned businesses by the numbers
- Strategies to encourage black-owned business entrepreneurship
- The COVID 1619 pandemic response
- Examples of DEI programs that work
- Ideas to foster equity moving forward




Rodrick Miller, CEcD
Invest Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Rodrick Miller is the Chief Executive Officer at Invest Puerto Rico. He joined the organization in 2019 and has built a world-class team to lead its mission of business and investment attraction to the island.

Miller comes to InvestPR after leading Ascendant Global, an economic development firm focused on providing bold growth solutions to help economies sustain themselves and gain jobs and private investment. Prior to that, he was President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the public-private partnership charged with leading the economic revitalization of the city of Detroit.

Miller also served as the founding president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance, the official economic development organization for the City of New Orleans. As the leader on economic recovery, Miller focused the organization’s efforts on lowering barriers to entry in the marketplace, increasing transparency, and developing approaches to drive inclusive economic growth.

With numerous accolades under his belt, Miller is one of the foremost economic development leaders in the country, respected for his ability to maneuver in complex political and business environments, and craft strategies and structure deals to provide long-term value to communities and investors. He holds a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science degree in international business from St. Augustine’s College. He is also a Fulbright Fellow.

Eric Miller
Senior Vice President, Business Development
Greater Richmond Partnership
Richmond, VA

Eric Miller is a native of Columbia, S.C., and has approximately 20 years of progressive, professional economic development experience at the local, regional and state level. At the local level, Eric served as the Director of the Industrial Development Office, for the Muskogee City-County Port Authority, in Muskogee, Okla. In this role, Eric both recognized the need and garnered the support of his leadership, to spearhead the design, development and execution of the first facilitated investment attraction, competitiveness assessment and target industry analysis in Muskogee. The process produced recommended marketplace improvements, including product development, workforce development strategies and a timeline for implementation, thereby enhancing Muskogee’s competitive value proposition for new investment and job creation.

Eric returned to regional economic development when he accepted the role of Executive Vice President of Business Development for the Hampton Roads (Va.) Economic Development Alliance (HREDA). During his tenure at HREDA, Eric oversaw the region’s comprehensive strategic planning process. In alignment with the strategic plan, Eric revamped HREDA’s domestic and international lead generation model to be more data centric and focused on the geographies that indicated growth/need for expansion in HREDA’s target industry sectors. After serving the Memphis (Tenn.) Chamber of Commerce as Senior Vice President of Economic Development, Eric returned to Virginia as the GRP’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Eric is charged with developing both the domestic and international investment and attraction strategy for GRP to match prospect opportunities with the region’s industry clusters and help strengthen the GRP’s relationships with entities or individuals integral to the site location decision-making process.

Eric earned both his Bachelor of Science and his Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of South Carolina. He is also a graduate the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Basic Economic Development School, the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute and a charter graduate of the South Carolina Advanced Economic Development Symposium.

Henry Coaxum
Coaxum Enterprises, Inc.
New Orleans, LA

As president of Coaxum Enterprises, Inc., Henry L. Coaxum, Jr., is the owner/operator of three McDonald’s restaurants in New Orleans. His first job with the McDonald’s Corporation was as a manager trainee at the McDonald’s restaurant located on the I-10 Service Road and Read Boulevard in Eastern New Orleans in 1984. His career came full circle in 2002 when he became the owner/operator of that very same restaurant. Coaxum is founding and emeritus chairman of the New Orleans Business Alliance, the city’s first-ever public-private partnership for economic development. He also serves as treasurer on the City’s Hospital Service District Board that oversaw the redevelopment of the New Orleans East Hospital.

Coaxum has served as president of the Great Southern Region’s Black McDonald’s Operators Association. He received The Ronald Award – a prestigious award which honors McDonald’s owner/operators for outstanding service to both the McDonald’s brand through exemplary operations, marketing and employee relations practices, as well as to their local communities.

Coaxum was recognized by the Neighborhood Development Foundation as being the recipient of The Leadership Award which honors an individual or organization who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the development and growth of New Orleans neighborhoods. He was selected as a Laureate of the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame of the Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans, Inc., which inspires and prepares young people to successfully participate in their economy through workforce development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

Coaxum was one of the recipients of the McDonald’s 365Black Awards. The national awards salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. Coaxum was honored at the awards ceremony held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the 20th anniversary of the 2014 ESSENCE Festival™ presented by Coca Cola® in New Orleans.

He is a recipient of the New Orleans Council for Community Justice’s Weiss Award. As an individual who has been an influential leader within economic development, Coaxum received the 2017 Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievement from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Adam Knapp
President & CEO
Baton Rouge Area Chamber
Baton Rouge, LA

Adam Knapp is president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC). BRAC is the regional economic development organization for the capital city and surrounding region in the US state of Louisiana, whose mission it is to lead economic development for the nine parish (county) metro of 840,000 people. BRAC has a long, successful track record in both business development and policy reform initiatives. Baton Rouge was recently recognized as the 2019 Major Market of the Year by Southern Business and Development.

As part of its Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work, BRAC has established a leadership role in the region’s business community to advance diversity strategies, led by its Diversity and Inclusion Committee. These have included launch of the Baton Rouge Procurement Opportunity Partnership (BR-POP) to assist large firms to procure services from locally-owned Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs). It launched an annual award to recognize small and large businesses successfully leading change in business and management diversity programs. It promotes business development, and landed expansion projects, in its disadvantaged areas. Its policy team drafted and passed state legislation to reform state title laws regarding adjudicated, blighted properties. Most recently, BRAC has partnered to help companies establish internal diversity strategies and offered matching grants to help businesses set up internal Dialogue on Race programs.

A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, he previously served as the deputy director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). Knapp was a key figure in the creation of the entity, which is designed to facilitate the state’s recovery efforts in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He also served as economic development advisor to two Louisiana governors (one Republican, one Democrat) and the policy director for Louisiana Economic Development (LED). At LED, he managed the department’s economic policy initiatives, such as workforce programs, entrepreneurial development, and risk capital accessibility. During that time he worked business development projects and led state legislative changes such as creating the Angel Investor Tax Credit, the Research and Development Tax Credit, and rewriting the Quality Jobs Program.

Prior to state government, Knapp worked for Accenture, one of the world’s premier technology and management consultancy firms, as an emerging technology consultant. Knapp graduated from Davidson College and also studied at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Julius-Maximilians Universität in Würzburg, Germany. He is married to Megan Knapp, father to three young kids, and serves on the non-profit boards for the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), Teach for America South Louisiana, New Schools Baton Rouge, and Dialogue on Race Louisiana.

Steven Jast
President & Founder
ROI Research on Investment/Gazelle.ai
Montreal, QC

Steven founded ROI Research on Investment in February 2003. As President of ROI, Steve led the growth of the company from a two-person start-up to a Profit Magazine “Hot 50” company, ranking as Canada’s 26th fastest growing company in 2007.

Steve is a recognized thought leader on the fundamentals and best practices related to investment attraction, business retention and expansion, as well as advanced lead nurturing and engagement techniques for economic development organizations. Steven has written a number of guidebooks and provided training on best-practices related to investment attraction to international governments at all levels. Since 2003, ROI has worked with over 450 economic development organizations from around the world, facilitating over $30 billion in capital investment, creating over 250,000 jobs.

Since 2015, Steve has been leading an ambitious effort to harness the power of big data and artificial intelligence for investment attraction. Having built a multi-disciplinary team comprised of Mathematicians, Economists, Data Scientists and Software Engineers, Steve is exploring the capabilities of trained algorithms to detect companies in their earliest stages of expansion.

Following 3 years of development, Gazelle.ai was launched in September 2017, and now has over 1,000 users in 25 countries. In 2019, Steve was again nominated as a Finalist for the Ernst & Young International Entrepreneur of the Year Award, was finalist in the Collision Conference PITCH Competition and Gazelle.ai was nominated as Canadian AI Company of the Year.


Instructions and Technology

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