RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Hoping to better address long-standing inequities in Richmond, city leaders have introduced a plan they say will help empower residents and neighborhoods that have historically not been given the same economic opportunities as others.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney unveiled the city’s “Strategic Plan for Equitable Economic Development” (SPEED) on Monday alongside a few city council members and other leaders. The plan outlines goals through fiscal year 2026 that aim to reduce racial disparities in poverty, housing, education and health.
The initiatives in SPEED include bringing 3,000 new jobs with salaries at or above $52,000, attracting $3 billion in investments for economic development projects and reducing the city’s poverty rate by 5%.
On Monday, Stoney stressed that any effort towards economic empowerment “requires economic justice” and that its up to the city to deliver these opportunities to “all residents.”
“This is not just an economic development plan. This is an economic justice plan as well,” Stoney said. “Good economic development is economic empowerment.”
The plan unveiled by Stoney points to the growth of corporate and regional headquarters throughout the region, a thriving “entrepreneurial spirit” and the city’s ongoing development projects as signs that Richmond has emerged “onto the national stage.”
But Stoney and Leonard Sledge, Richmond’s director of economic development, noted that the city’s growth has not been equitable for all of its residents.
They pointed to data in the plan showing that the city has become increasingly unaffordable for its low-income workers and that Black workers are far more likely to have jobs in the region’s three lowest-paying occupations: health care support, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance and food preparation and serving.
Stoney said the plan would help establish a pipeline of competitive employment opportunities with a specific focus on the neighborhoods in the city that have traditionally not had access to them.
Some goals include embarking on a broadband initiative to ensure that all residents have internet access and taking steps to prepare people for “higher-wage employment opportunities.”
“Our strategy, first and foremost, is about improving the lives of our residents. Employment not just for the purposes of survival but for wealth building, for cycle breaking and for life changing,” he said.
The city’s plan also seeks to help Richmond attract and retain businesses and workers, including launching capital funds for minority entrepreneurs and small business owners within the first year to support the growth of their businesses.
“Providing greater financial and business-related resources for minority business development is a critical strategy to advance the plan’s guiding principles of equity and growth,” the plan states.
SPEED also calls for real estate development activities that generate $25 million in tax revenue and awarding 2,500 postsecondary credentials to residents. Stoney said the plan will help guide the city’s efforts but could see changes moving forward.
This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.