He currently works with 12 corridors which include more than 600 businesses. As a graduate of Drexel University, Jones is currently advocating in conversations, and advisory and oversight board positions for over $10 billion dollars in new real estate development for the business community in West Philadelphia.
This involves advocating for workforce development training for residents so that they will be prepared for the new jobs being created. He also is making sure that the projects have clear and open contract practices so businesses, especially AfricanAmerican and minority businesses, have a fair chance to be awarded contracts.
How do you feel about being nominated?
I feel honored to be nominated by the magazine for this list. For me, it’s a recognition that I’m moving in the right direction and it strengthens my resolve for the great work I’ve started in the West Philadelphia community!
What is your inspiration?
When I first started in this work, I was 19 years old. Many people I was trying to work with told me I was too young, that I wasn’t ready, and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Luckily, I had a great network of people that mentored and encouraged me to go at it anyway. I came out with a firm resolution that society needs to stop discounting the fact that young people have the capacity to make change happen. I continue this work hoping that I will stand as a role model, an example, for all the young people that are trying to make change in our society today, that it is possible, and it can be done.
What are you engaged in? I’m also looking at how we can encourage and educate businesses to integrate new technology to help them compete and attract new customers and clients. For example, we formed a great partnership with Detroit’s ReBrand Cities, WordPress and Drexel University’s ExCITe Center to get more businesses online by developing websites. I’m also about forming partnerships to ensure that innovation in Philly’s Innovation District bleeds out into the
In the summer, I spoke with over 100 high school students about entrepreneurship to show that it is an option and to let them know that our organization stands ready to support them in developing their ideas. I’m also planning two series of workshops, one is to teach residents about planning for start-up businesses, and the other to teach about contracting with government and large institutions.
What are your plans?
I want to be a crucial part of turning West Philadelphia into an ecosystem where entrepreneurship and innovation thrives at every corner and that the opportunities in our city are accessible to all that want to reach for them.
What does being part of the Diaspora mean to you? To me, it means that we have a duty to our ancestors, those that fought, suffered and persevered, to make the most out of every opportunity that is now afforded to us.
Nominated by James Barnett, executive director of the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution.