Growth & Justice, the 20-year think tank and advocacy organization advocating for racial equity, is merging into the larger Center for Economic Inclusion.

Growth and Justice President Jane Leonard, who is retiring, said the combination will magnify the work of both outfits to advance racial and economic justice and "community vitality."

"We are thrilled that the Center for Economic Inclusion will be able to use our Minnesota Equity Blueprint and Minnesota Equity Map to bring special attention to successful efforts in rural and Greater Minnesota, complementing the Center's focus on the Twin Cities metropolitan area,'' Leonard said in a prepared statement.

Growth and Justice has a budget of about $200,000 and three employees. The 22-employee Center for Economic Inclusion expects revenue this year to approach $10 million, with growing corporate and foundation backing for its programs and consulting services.

CEO Tawanna Black said Minnesota needs to increase a commitment to inclusion at all business levels — from hourly workers to the boardroom — to thrive. She expressed gratitude to the leaders of Growth & Justice "for capitalizing on this opportunity to leverage their legacy and assets by investing in the future impact of the Center for Economic Inclusion for the good of all Minnesotans."

Leonard said she approached Black last fall about an alliance that was supported "enthusiastically" by Growth & Justice's board.

Growth & Justice was founded in 2002 by Joel Kramer, a former Star Tribune editor and CEO. It has focused on research on equity and inclusion, its role in healthy and sustainable economic growth and how to build broader prosperity for more Minnesotans.

The organization raised more than $6 million since 2002 through foundation and individual support for research and advocacy on issues and tax policy.