In this week’s roundup of watercooler talk from the region’s startup hubs, we have the dish on Amazon’s digital divide backpedaling, St. Louis’ international robotics competition and Denver’s vibrant city culture. Check out more in this series here.a
And the backpedaling continues. Amid much backlash, Amazon finally greenlit its one-day delivery service to the predominantly black neighborhoods the company initially left off its delivery map.
The e-commerce giant previously said it had forgone delivery to black neighborhoods in Chicago, New York and Boston due to a combination of distance from distribution centers and density of its Prime members.
The “you-know-what” really hit the fan when Bloomberg pointed out discrepancies in Amazon’s story. Chicago’s 85-percent-white Oak Lawn bureau is located further away from Amazon’s distribution center than the mostly-black South Side. Boston’s Roxbury is completely surrounded by neighborhoods that get the service. And in New York, Amazon will deliver to the more cut-off-but-affluent Staten Island while pretending the Bronx is invisible.
While Amazon doesn’t base its decisions on demographics, not taking them into consideration at all is what’s led to this little thing called the digital divide, which increasingly affects some of the nation’s poorest — and primarily black — communities.
St. Louis recently played host mom to 29,000 students and their 800 robots.
No, it wasn’t an attempt to get Skynet online sooner than expected. Students competing in the international “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST) Championship have descended on the city annually for the past six years.
FIRST invites K-12 students to build robots from a provided parts kit, which must then solve assigned problems or complete specific tasks. Competitors tussle it out by age group at regional and state levels to reach the final showdown in St. Louis.
The championship seeks to instill in kids a passion for STEM that will eventually lead to college majors and jobs in the field. And it’s working, according to the article.
Cities all want a piece of that sweet, sweet entrepreneurial pie. And some cities have been better at stealing pieces than others. We’re looking at you, Denver.
The startup crowd flocking to Denver says the city has a different ace in the hole: quality of life.
For example, when the city first began actively trying to attract the millennial startup crowd, it put in more bike lanes. Not financial incentives, not tax breaks. Bike lanes.
Denver’s startup lifestyle features meetings that take place not in conference rooms, but on hiking trails, which people get to by — you guessed it — biking. An entrepreneur’s mentors are as likely to complete Ironman competitions as lead boardrooms. Lunch meetups happen over health food.
Using Denver as an example, it seems that vibrant and well-publicised city culture — whatever that may be — is just as important as other more practical factors.