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Editorial, 9/16: Mayor's task force idea offer good medicine

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Mayor press conference

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird speaks with Lincoln-Lancaster County interim health director Pat Lopez during a meeting on May 27.

Recovering from an illness comes in two stages.

First, one battles the symptoms to ease the immediate pain. Second, one regains strength to return to normal activity. And, maybe, in that recovery process, one finds himself or herself better prepared for the next illness.

That same process is the underpinning for the document released last week by the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force. Presented by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and co-chairs Angie Muhleisen, president and CEO of Union Bank & Trust, and Ava Thomas, president and publisher of the Journal Star, the plan focuses on the strengths of our community and the tools we have at our disposal, not what we need or what we lack, as we try to recover and grow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommendations revolve around three key areas – business strategies, workforce strategies and local government strategies. And in each of these areas, some ideas are targeting immediate relief while others promote longer-term objectives.

Take, for example, the business strategy recommendations. The plan calls for immediate business-to-business forums where good ideas and common issues can be identified. A new policy or program could impact a business almost overnight.

With an eye on the horizon, other strategies involve developing a directory making it easier for local government and business leaders to invest in small businesses and those owned by women and minorities and encouraging employers to pledge to spend 1% more locally. Strengthening local businesses of all sizes and diverse ownership puts our economy on ever firmer footing when the next challenge arises.

Workforce strategies attack the immediate symptoms by using existing workforce programs and networks to greater effect. And they build for a stronger future by creating incentives for businesses to “upskill and reskill” their employees.

And in the government sphere, the immediate needs identified were enhancing workplace safety and building consumer confidence. The long-term recovery strategy involves identifying sources for relief funding and investment to bolster existing businesses and help new ones get off the ground.

Survey data from 265 local businesses helped inform the task force’s thinking. And the group focuses on ideas that were actionable and “durable,” in the sense that they contribute to Lincoln’s fundamental strength.

All this is good medicine. Some ingredients of the plan offer fast-acting relief. Some promote long-term well-being. And some help with “immunity,” our ability to fend off the next literal or figurative pandemic.

True recovery will take place one business, one person at a time. But the ideas put forth by the mayor’s task force offer a prescription for the immediate and long-term ailments we face.


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