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Dell Gines

MBA, MSF, CEcD, Senior Community Development Advisor
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Uncommon Voices 2020

Dell Gines

Always with an entrepreneurial mindset, Dell Gines, MBA, MSF, CEcD, senior community development advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, stayed busy in 2020.  

“Early in the pandemic, I did significant outreach to diverse chambers of commerce around the region, started a Small Businesses of Color workgroup across the Federal Reserve System, and co-authored a guide to help small business owners of color during the recovery process,” Gines says.

And while working from home, he took speaking engagements virtually everywhere. In fact, the shift to virtual events made him more accessible. “From July to December, I ended up speaking at 35 or so virtual events – national, regional and local – but all virtual,” he says.

Q: What “new normals” – good or bad – do you see or anticipate coming out of this year? 

I think the move to virtual will stay, but not at the same levels as during the pandemic. People still enjoy face-to-face interaction. My bet is you will start seeing more hybrid models combining virtual and physical events, trainings, etc. Broadly speaking, I think the pandemic has illuminated many weaknesses across the U.S. Things like the digital divide and internet access, how the economy and structure of the labor market disproportionally challenges low-income individuals. Of course, the issue of racial justice and those conversations will continue. However, it is difficult to predict if the energy around some of these issues will be sustainable when life returns to whatever the new normal will be. 

Q: Has anything in the past year changed your mind on your view of the world? 

Absolutely. The lack of critical thinking, the willingness to believe particular narratives irrespective of the facts that counter those narratives, and the general incivility in American society and the weakened capacity for intelligent, non-belligerent dialogue really concerns me.  

Q: As we look for hope in the New Year, where do you see opportunities to rebuild society’s systems better?  

I truly think entrepreneurship ecosystem building is the way to go from an economic development perspective. One of the dominant themes of this pandemic and recession has been the disproportionate impact and challenges to small businesses. The infrastructure was shown to be really weak for many communities. Also, in inflection points like this, there are always opportunities to innovate and try something new. The stay-at-home or work-from-home policies have allowed us to re-envision how we structure work and home. It will put pressure on commercial real estate markets and provide opportunities to look at other ways real estate is done. However, we have to be thoughtful and intentional in how we take advantage of this inflection point because not all change is good. There may be negative unintended consequences to the shifts if we do not adequately think them through. 

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