City Accelerator expands to City of Charlotte, focuses on increasing economic mobility and opportunity

Britt Clampitt

The Citi Foundation and Living Cities have announced the expansion of the City Accelerator program to five additional U.S. cities, including Charlotte.

Over the next year, the City of Charlotte will work with four other cities to refine its approach to procurement spending. The City will collaborate with the cohort to pursue new strategies to increase the diversity of municipal vendors and contractors to direct more spending to local, minority-owned businesses. This collaboration supports the goal of City Accelerator, to support innovative local government projects within and across cities that have a significant impact on the lives of residents, especially those with low incomes.

Other cities selected for the program include Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Milwaukee.

"The City of Charlotte is committed to providing equal access and opportunities for all businesses to grow, especially businesses owned by people of color," said Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. "Through the City's Charlotte Business INClusion Policy, we have made significant strides, achieving $41 million in spending with local Minority, Women, Small Business Enterprises in Fiscal Year 2016. I am proud of our accomplishments to date, and I look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities to accelerate our work in this area. The expertise and funding from City Accelerator will help us grow our small, women- and minority-owned businesses."

"These cities are taking a hard look at how they purchase goods and services for their communities," said Ed Skyler, Citi's executive vice president for global public affairs and chairman of the Citi Foundation. "They recognize that there is an opportunity to strengthen their procurement practices – and cities overall – by connecting directly with the diverse businesses and ideas within their communities. We are excited to see the ideas and approaches that come from this year's City Accelerator."

In addition to a grant of up to $100,000, the City of Charlotte will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. The City hopes to find creative ways to build the capacity of Minority, Women, Small Business Enterprises (MWSBEs) to allow for increased MWSBE spending by the City, large corporations and anchor institutions. The City is also looking for ways to ease the connection between purchasing organizations and local businesses.

"Addressing disparities in the local economy has always been at the heart of our work," said Griffin and Strong P.C. Founder and CEO Rodney Strong. "We are excited to help bring our expertise from decades of national public policy research and implementation to Charlotte as we ensure that opportunity and economic growth go hand-in-hand as part of a comprehensive strategy that benefits all residents."

Charlotte's original pitch for the City Accelerator can be viewed publicly on Governing Magazine's website,, where news and updates from the entire group of cities will be posted throughout the course of the grant. The progress of the cities can also be tracked on social media with the hashtag #CityAccelerator.