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Delaware lawmakers seek solutions to building wealth in minority communities

Delaware Public Media

What are some solutions to building more wealth and revitalizing Delaware’s minority communities?


The state’s African American Task Force took that question up Wednesday night.


Members of the Delaware legislature and community leaders are exploring ways to bring more wealth into the state’s communities of color.


Two subcommittees of the African American Task Force held a joint listening session Wednesday night to hear from experts on some possible options.


Thomas Russell is an entertainment and corporate lawyer in Los Angeles — and a Delaware native.


He says we need to teach more people about financial literacy and investment so they can take charge in improving their communities.


“We already have the tools we just have to start putting them in place," said Russell. "We could take it from bottom to top; bottom, where will we do this? Well we already have all these community centers in Delaware, I’m a product of them, so we can start there. Second, we’re in the corporate state so we have access to some of the biggest and largest financial institutions — the [DSU President] Tony Allen’s of the world that can come and speak to these issues.”


Rustin Brown is a debt finance partner in Washington D.C. He says a big challenge in these communities is finding any investors at all.


“Because a private entity might not make that investment in a community where they might not see the same returns as they might find in a more affluent community,” Brown said.


Brown says a great way to build that trust is through public/private partnerships, where private equity firms won’t be so worried about the returns because they’ll be subsidized by the government, and that can help jumpstart the revitalization.


Another topic discussed was increasing the number of local developers in the state, who are more invested in improving the places they live in.


The legislators and other task force members plan to take the ideas from these listening sessions and use them when drafting recommendations for future legislation.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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