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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Jan 25, 2017

What’s Next, America?


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. In an essay written in advance of the conference, James H. Johnson Jr., the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of strategy and entrepreneurship and director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Kenan Institute, laid out four domestic priorities that he believes require the next president’s immediate attention:

  • Solving America’s most persistent dilemma, income inequality, by creating a more inclusive economy;
  • Re-engineering our system of education and training programs such that our labor force has the skills to compete successfully for jobs and business opportunities in the new workforce;
  • Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure by fixing spaces and places; and
  • Garnering bipartisan support for embracing our demographic diversity as a strategic business imperative in the hyper-competitive global economy.

These were among the primary issues addressed in the “What’s Next, America?” proceedings.

In his opening remarks, Kenan Institute director Greg Brown suggested that household income was a good way to frame what was to follow.

“I personally think that this is the root cause of the disenchantment we are seeing among the electorate on both the left and the right,” Brown said. “The typical person sees the economy growing and the rich getting richer, and, frankly, it seems unfair to a lot of people even if they disagree on the cause or what should be done about it.


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