D.C. area shows the economic benefits of cutting edge fields

WASHINGTON – The data clearly pointed to where INNOVATION & EQUITY: Spurring Manufacturing Through Innovation in Black Communities should take place, notes John William Templeton, author of Silicon Ceiling 10: Equal Opportunity and High Technology.

The 11th annual symposium of 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology occurs at the historic Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 in the midst of the largest concentration of African-Americans in cutting edge industries and the educational pathways to enter those fields.

“The 79,000 African-Americans working in cutting edge fields or in graduate studies in the District, Maryland and Virginia demonstrate what can be done around the nation to reduce unemployment,” says Templeton, who created the 50 Most list in 1999 to raise the profile of the 600,000 blacks in technology jobs.

The former editor of the San Jose Business Journal and also the Richmond AFRO-AMERICAN has had the unique vantage point of being immersed in the global hub of innovation and also one of the most successful black historic business districts.  He co-founded National Black Business Month in 2004 to explore how to bring economic development back to those neighborhoods.

Templeton sees a direct link between the concentration of many of the 4,000 black technology companies in the capitol region and the affluence of African-American households in the area.

Accordingly, the focus of INNOVATION & EQUITY is to bring together the factors of production, including talent, experience, new products, financing and markets, to promote more such firms and clusters around the country.

Darrell G. Mottley, a principal shareholder of Banner Witcoff and president-elect of the D.C. Bar, will discuss Creating Value from Innovation during the day-long symposium.  A Capital Court, SBIR/STTR Showcase and Patent to Public Parlor will match companies seeking investment and contracts with key decisionmakers.

“African-Americans gain an average of 1,000 patents per year, all over the country,” says Templeton.  “It is an overlooked way for communities to promote economic development.”

A common goal of the 50 Most selectees, drawn from public policy, research, manufacturing, executives, entrepreneurs and education is to encourage a new generation to follow in their footsteps.

Out of last year’s symposium in San Francisco, a pilot for a biotechnology academy was creating, using the case studies of successful black technologists to encourage high school students from a low-income neighborhood to pursue advanced sciences.

Since last year, a dozen outreach events have occurred around the nation to promote science careers and encourage new innovators.

Promoting the success of current standouts has the additional value of encouraging more young people to enter the fields, says Templeton.