Nichola Lowe

Diversity, inclusion, and tech are shaping economic and workforce development in Durham, North Carolina, writes Carolina Planning professor Nichola Lowea fact that contrasts with the national trend. Technology entrepreneurship is rarely uttered in the same breath with terms like racial diversity and socioeconomic inclusion. Less than 20 percent of American technology start-ups are minority owned. African Americans account for only seven percent of the U.S. high-tech workforce and one percent of (non-founder) technology executives; numbers for Latinos are equally low. According to recent reporting out of Silicon Valley, women also struggle for equal representation.

But American Underground, a startup incubator in Durham, part of the Research Triangle region, is rapidly pushing to change these trends. In early 2015, American Underground leadership publicly committed to creating the world’s most diverse entrepreneurial hub. Within one year, it had increased its share of female- and minority-led firms by more than 30 percent. Today, 75 of their 257 companies are female led and 73 are minority led.

American Underground’s success in diversifying high tech can be traced back to a few enviable features. READ MORE

American Uncerground report quotes

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