Magic Johnson and Urban Investment

Ervin “Magic” Johnson wrote a column in today’s USA TODAY entitled “Urban areas deserve investment, not fear.” Johnson has spent his post-basketball career investing in urban development, specifically providing entertainment and shopping options to under served communities.

Johnson writes that business leaders will find success with the following blueprint if they just get past their fears:

  • Diversify store locations
  • Hire senior staff that represent and understand the needs of a particular community
  • Market and cater to the needs of inner-city customers

Johnson states that it is hard to understand why major businesses have stayed away from the inner-city demographic.

It’s no secret that inner cities are heavily populated with minorities — particularly African-Americans and Latinos. This is a rapidly growing demographic with tremendous purchasing power. By 2012, these two groups will have more than $2 trillion to pump into the economy. Yet, many major businesses largely see more risk than reward in these neighborhoods.

Target just opened its first Washington, D.C. store in the neighborhood of Columbia Heights. Columbia Heights is a gentrifying neighborhood in Northwest Washington. It will be interesting to see if Target caters to the multiple needs of the diverse community, or whether it will offer the same product offerings as it would in any of its stores in the Metro D.C. Target stores.

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Video as a development tool

Wired News has an interesting article on their website entitled “Video for the Voiceless”The article describes how DIY digital video is becoming an organizing tool for indigenous people groups around the world. One videographer said that he doesn’t see his videos up on the screen as entertainment, rather, he hopes to…

“inspire reflection and ponder the situations that our communities are up against.”

I would love to train developing societies in technology, in order for them to be able to use technology to make the world aware of their plight. I have seen video used in development work for many years, but most of the time this content is created by development agencies, instead of the individuals receiving the aid.