In January 2017, SVA's Heartland Network co-launched an economic policy and research collaboration with the Century Foundation that resulted in a series of "Heartland Road Shows" focused on how to revitalize communities in the industrial Midwest. This collaboration resulted in a national convening, co-sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) on the "Lessons Learned from the Heartland" on Thursday, September 13, in Washington, DC.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) were the keynote speakers at the wrap-up summit sponsored by the foundation and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and co-sponsored by our Heartland Network. Biden and Gillibrand - both of whom are being floated as potential 2020 presidential contenders - noted that too many Americans are stuck working low-paying jobs, and elected leaders haven't done enough to help them.
"Ordinary Americans can do extraordinary things, if you just give them a chance. This is not beyond our capacity. There is so much we can do to begin to change things."
"We have the hardest working people in the world. We have an ideal, it's called the American dream. I can tell you, wherever I travel in my state, people don't believe the dream is for them anymore...They just want someone fighting for them."
Garnering extensive national press and media coverage and more than 350,000 people who live streamed the event, the Foundation's "High Wage America" initiative officially unveiled its new federal agenda for revitalizing America's manufacturing communities, centered on ways to rebuild manufacturing cities and increase the number of high wage jobs in America.
Our crowd-sourced sustainable industrial policy agenda, penned by Joel Yudken and Andrew Stettner, serves as a blueprint for doing just that, and sustainable manufacturing is at the heart of it. Our proposals for a national ETI/impact investment clearinghouse and a new industrial bank, similar to the European public banks, were both highlighted in the new policy agenda.
In all, our five summits drew three U.S. Senators, including Senators Bob Casey and Sherrod Brown, Congresswoman Marcie Kaptur, USW President Leo Gerard and Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs as headliners, and some 700-800 participants in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, and the nation's Capitol.
Heartland board member David Wilhelm of Hecate Energy spoke at the DC summit about his years-long campaign to land an amazing 400 mw solar farm on mined over lands in Appalachian Ohio, and a Heartlander opened the remarkable video produced by Century and shown at the beginning of the summit. National outlets that covered the event included Washington Post, Morning Joe (MSNBC), Newsweek, USA Today, Politico, ABC News Radio, C-Span, The Hill, Salon.
When we started the road shows, we didn't know if there would be interest in exploring economic revitalization policies and practices that help communities that have been left behind. We were humbled at the reception we found all across the Northeast, Midwest and Great Lakes states as we talked to local change-makers who are fighting to rebuild their communities. We want to sincerely thank Century and EPI and our other co-sponsors, including PNC Bank. But we want to especially express our gratitude to the fighters who are working to take back the Heartland!
Watch a recording of the live event.