Seventh District Representation on the Fed’s Community Advisory Council

February 6, 2018

Recently, we profiled Seventh District CAC member Bethany Sanchez in the CDPS blog. The other sitting member of the CAC from the Seventh District is Rodrick Miller, who represents Ascendant Global Consulting. We asked him about his role, responsibilities, and outlook.

Q: What do you do for Ascendant Global and how does your work relate to community and economic development?

Ascendant Global (AG) is a consultancy that builds efficient, sustainable, measurable economic growth solutions for municipalities, foundations, universities, and private enterprises. From developing comprehensive workforce development strategies and designing small business ecosystem solutions to refining value propositions and driving external investments for communities, AG is singularly focused on strengthening economies through inclusive strategic growth.

AG recognizes that economies are regional, anchored by cities, and must compete globally. Through that lens, we work with an array of clients who seek to fundamentally strengthen their competitive position; increase coordination between the private, public, and nonprofit actors; and chart a clear path forward. This work results in increased access to jobs and income; encourages smart public and private investment in infrastructure, education, and facilities; and, increases the latent capacity of communities to produce value-added goods and services and contribute to the global marketplace; all of these components are essential to the long-term health of communities.

As the Founder and CEO of Ascendant Global, I partner with markets confronted with deep challenges to long-term economic security, help them identify solutions and deliver results that are appropriate for their economic, demographic, and political realities. I enjoy being the quarterback for an incredibly talented team and work side by side with them to craft solutions that are thoughtful and effective. Some of the solutions that we have developed for specific clients include:

  • Identifying the support resources and tools available to help small businesses start up, stay up, and scale up over time and increased coordination between diverse small business support entities. (Detroit)
  • Developed a five-year strategic plan to increase the likelihood of long-term career and life success for “at-risk youth” by coordinating, tracking and aggressively pursuing workforce development, career counseling, and job access goals.
  • Created a sustainable development plan for downtown and underserved corridors in a mid-sized city including recommendations on appropriate incentives, refinement of zoning and planning policies, marketing strategies, and leveraging local small business capacity.
  • Assisted various municipalities and diverse nonprofit organizations in launching economic development agencies that manage incentives and provide real estate and site selection support. (Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans)

Q: Please give an overview of why you wanted to join the Community Advisory Council?

Involvement in the Community Advisory Council (CAC) was an ideal way to elevate issues confronting low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities to the Federal Reserve Board. Having led economic recovery efforts in New Orleans and Detroit, I have seen first-hand that LMI communities tend to have less access to information, resources, and opportunity. It often seems as if the challenging realities of these communities are a footnote to broader national policy discussions. The ability to inform, promote, and encourage Fed policy to increase access to startup capital, encourage homeownership, and drive job creation through involvement in this meaningful action-oriented forum is an incredible honor and an invaluable opportunity to give voice to marginalized populations. Learning more about how the Fed works and impacts economic opportunity has been enlightening.

Q: Tell us one thing that would help us to get to know you.

I am the son of a noncommissioned US Army officer. As a result, I grew up in many places around the US and abroad. One of the most impactful experiences was living in West Germany during the height of the Cold War from 1987-1990. I watched the Berlin Wall come down and witnessed the fall of the USSR up close. This provided me with a unique vantage point of the process people navigate to change their circumstances, redefine their lives, and learn to survive in dramatically different economic and social contexts. It was painful at times, and incredibly inspiring at others, to see families learn how to work differently, become entrepreneurs and, in many cases, thrive. While the world watched this shift on a macro level, I got to see it play out in person. This experience awakened my interest in political economy and is one of the biggest factors that led me to become an economic developer.

The views expressed in this post are our own and do not reflect those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago or the Federal Reserve System.


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