September 6, 2019

Allstate CEO challenges fellow business leaders to invest in America’s workers

Here are three stories to inspire you as you head into the weekend.

Allstate CEO Tom Wilson says businesses can play a larger role in helping communities thrive. Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage via Getty

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people are creating in their communities. This week, Allstate CEO Tom Wilson on why businesses have to do more to serve their communities; a new cultural resource in Lafayette, Louisiana; and an inspiring mural project in New York City. What are the innovative ideas in your hometown? Tell us at

Giving America a raise: This year, the U.S. has seen its lowest unemployment rates in 50 years, but that only tells one part of the story. As economists have noted, sluggish wage growth and low participation rate in the labor force are also key indicators to the country’s overall economic health. With Friday’s jobs report revealing lower-than-expected job gains, it’s clear there’s still work to be done to ensure that more Americans can access prosperity. The country’s CEOs agree, as evidenced by a joint statement last month from the Business Roundtable that redefines the role of business in society.

Tom Wilson—chair, president, and CEO of Allstate—explained this expanded role in a recent op-ed in the New York Times: “American businesses are sending a clear message: They need to focus on doing more than making profit.” Wilson supported this statement by writing that corporations must do more than serve shareholders. They must also invest in employees by creating better, higher paying jobs and support the communities in which they work.

Wilson, who is also chairman of the executive committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce, writes that the American economy will thrive when its workforce thrives, and he challenges his fellow CEOs to “create more high-paying jobs and restore faith in capitalism.”

“Delivering higher income through better-paying jobs would be the best tribute to American workers and will restore prosperity to every family and community in America,” Wilson writes. “For American businesses, that is our history. That is our role. It must be our future.”

Read the full op-ed here. You can also watch an interview with Wilson on Fox Business Network: Allstate CEO warns of financial ‘cancer’ on America.

Mapping a city’s arts community: Lafayette, Louisiana, prides itself on its rich cultural assets—from an annual music and arts festival that draws hundreds of thousands each year, to its Cajun and Creole culinary traditions. Now the city is organizing all of its cultural assets in one spot, a searchable database for the city’s artists, musicians, venues, organizations, and cultural resources. With help from a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lafayette will launch CREATE (Culture, Recreation, Entertainment, Arts, Tourism, Economy), a digital portal to help local artists showcase their work and also connect with each other and with an audience.

The database will also be mappable, giving the city a better understanding of where the arts are thriving. “The culture is just accepted as this great thing we have but it’s intangible in a way,” Lafayette’s Chief Cultural Officer Kate Durio told Route Fifty. “We’ve never had a way to see where our creative clustering is happening.”

The program has already gotten off the ground, with an artists-in-residence fellowship that kicked off this summer. The database will launch later this year.

Using art to create change: Artists in New York City are mapping their own project. The nonprofit Groundswell engages artists, young people, and their communities to use art for social change. So far the organization has created over 500 murals that reflect the hopes, pains, and aspirations for each neighborhood. For each project, artists work with young people to find out what issues are important to them and how they express it through public art. After an initial sketch is complete, the youth then share the drawing with community members to get their feedback. Once that’s in place, the young people are off to paint.

“We’re not just painting things to make it really beautiful,” Groundswell’s executive director Robyne Walker Murphy told AM New York. “We’re speaking to issues like police brutality and sexual harassment. We’re also talking about possibility and celebrating the beauty in these communities, too.”

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers

The Renewal Project, Atlantic Media

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project. The Renewal Project, which is made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.