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National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial to highlight Development & Diversity Summit

Marc Morial

The Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) in tandem with the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) will host its 7th annual Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit 2020 on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 22 and 23.

Due to the current global COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing orders, the event will be hosted completely online via EventMobi.

The summit’s intent is to bring together both businesses and community leaders from across the Madison region to explore opportunities in promoting inclusive economic development and workforce diversity.

In light of the current social and political climate, Edward Lee, Senior Vice President at the ULGM, noted that the summit will be looking through a critical lens to assess the economic damages done by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent community outcry for racial justice.

Former NFL player Wade Davis, a thought leader, writer, public speaker, and educator on gender, race, and orientation equality, delivers a keynote speech at the 2019 Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit

“Many of our speakers and panelists will be weaving [recent social topics] into their presentations. That’s the lens that we’ll be looking through at a lot of our sessions this year,” Lee said.

The summit will also feature a variety of both national and local speakers including keynotes from National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial and critically acclaimed author and poet, Carlos Andrés Gómez. 

“We are looking for speakers that have a message … both speakers that can offer messages of inspiration, but also messages that are really action-oriented,” said Lee.

Morial told Madison365 that during his keynote speech, he will address the need to fight for racial justice via the use of economic empowerment.

“[Cities] have to focus on economic empowerment and economic justice. That means jobs that pay a living wage, that means affordable housing,” Morial said. “That means businesses entrepreneurship opportunities…It requires intentionality. 

“We’re going to invest in people in these neighborhoods … Black and brown neighborhoods across the nation, that have been closed down, locked down left out forgotten,” he added.

Moving forward, the ULGM will be continuing its work with MadREP and other community partners to provide aid to promote economic development and support workplace diversity and inclusion efforts around the local Madison area.

Currently, ULGM is working on its newly launched single-family housing development and homeownership project and has initiated planning for a South Madison Black business hub project to be located in the Park Street corridor.

“[ULGM will continue to work] in response to the economic development and workforce needs in the region,” Lee said.

On the national level, Morial stated that the National Urban League will be demanding that cities invest in BlPOC communities to ensure economic justice and equity.

“We’re going to be pushing for a plan, an investment plan for America’s Black, brown, and urban communities. We want to see a big investment plan…to put money in these locked out and left out communities,” Morial said.