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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Prescribing policy that leads to prosperity for the urban disadvantaged.

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Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights and affirmative action inadvertently afford the nursing profession a propitious opportunity to capitalize on the nation’s rich mosaic of iceberg demographic identities—inherited and acquired traits that may not be visibly apparent—to address pressing worker shortages and other workplace conundrums. 

Despite advocacy from governmental officials and parents alike, we urge caution in the reopening of public schools before the coronavirus pandemic is fully under control. We are especially concerned about the premature re-opening of schools in impoverished and flood-prone urban and rural environments.

Professor Jim Johnson, director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center, recently penned an op-ed for the Raleigh News and Observer on the importance of immigrants in an aging U.S. economy. Johnson co-authored the piece with Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities Vice President Allan M. Parnell.

Profound demographic changes of all kinds are radically transforming America’s social, economic and political institutions. Perhaps one of the most troubling is something our affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center Director Dr. Jim Johnson calls the End of Men.

Terrorist attacks. Oil spill disasters. Ebola outbreaks. Our world today is defined by what Jim Johnson, director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center, terms an atmosphere of “certain uncertainty.” Johnson spoke on what individuals need to survive this new reality at the Feb. 12 Carolina Conversations event at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Jim Johnson, director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center, was recently featured in a WRAL-TV report and website article on what he sees as a major problem facing society – the declining role of men. Johnson points to poor performance in grade school, high incarceration rates and discrimination as some of the factors leading to the change. Johnson says the effects will have wide implications, including a decrease in the eligibility pool of marriageable men.

The Great Recession of 2008 came with a counterintuitive twist – the unprecedented growth of minority-owned small businesses in the U.S.  But although the data shows that the representation of minority firms in the small business ecosystem increased from 2007 to 2012 while the percentage of white-owned firms decreased, the larger question is whether those minority firms also made headway toward achieving equity or parity with white-owned businesses.

For more than 50 years, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been serving the African American community, providing a firm grounding not only in education, but also in black history and culture. Jim Johnson, Director of Education, Aging and Economic Development Initiatives for the Kenan Institute, spoke with Frank Stasio of The State of Things on the relevance and challenges of HBCUs today.

A recent article by AARP compares the tax landscape in North Carolina with surrounding states, and discusses how North Carolina tax breaks for older residents fall short of those offered by other states, such as South Carolina. The article quotes Jim Johnson, director of Education, Aging, and Economic Development for the Kenan Institute, on what older Americans consider when choosing where to spend their retirement years.

Older adults will drive U.S. population growth over the next quarter century. Projected to grow four times as fast as the total population, older adults will make up of 22 percent of the population in 2040, up from 15% in 2015. We believe this population aging can be a new engine for innovation, business development, and employment growth in the U.S.

On October 14, 2016, the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School hosted a conference titled What’s Next, America. Convened fewer than four weeks prior to the presidential election, the objective of the forum was to allow influential business leaders, academics and policy makers to examine issues critical to the U.S. economy now and in the future. The conference offered actionable solutions to the most important economic issues facing the next administration.