Economic Recovery Task Force groups get off to a quick start; recommendations are in the works

May 1, 2020

Two weeks ago, the Tampa Bay EDC was charged with convening key stakeholders from across our industry spectrum in an Economic Recovery Task Force. This group will deliver a set of recommendations to Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa for the purpose of assisting and guiding policy and program decisions designed to accelerate economic recovery.

Boy have we been busy. The Task Force’s first two working groups – Re-employment, co-chaired by CareerSource Tampa Bay’s John Flanagan and HCC’s Dr. Ken Atwater; and Retention and Business Support, co-chaired by myself, Tampa Bay Chamber’s Bob Rohrlack and Visit Tampa Bay’s Santiago Corrada – have gathered data, conducted surveys and assembled best practices that will inform the recovery strategies we offer to our elected officials. These recommendations will be delivered and synthesized along with public health and other governmental experts’ input to the Recovery working group, led by City and County staff.

During its initial virtual meeting this week, the Re-employment working group presented current unemployment data and heard from business association leaders, employers, and education providers about which industries could expect quick vs slow recovery and how dislocated workers whose jobs weren’t likely to come back could get assistance in finding training or employment in a new or growing industry.

The Retention and Business Support working group reviewed the results of a questionnaire that assessed COVID-19 impacts across Hillsborough County’s major industry sectors, small businesses and nonprofits; capital and other needs to resume operations; and the regulatory or other constraints that would inhibit business recovery. The group is already working on drafting its initial recommendations for addressing major employer concerns regarding public health and safety guidance, building consumer and worker confidence, and providing input on the financial, community, and philanthropic support needed for diverse sectors’ survival.

COVID-19 has devastated the tourism, hospitality, retail and arts and cultural industries, and Chmura Analytics estimates that unemployment in Hillsborough County could hit 15.5% as a result of the business closures forced by the pandemic. The good news, however, is that not all industries are in such dire straits. Many are maintaining business or are seeing business fall off slightly, and are adapting well to operating in a virtual, at home environment. A significant percentage of these companies were optimistic about their ability to bounce back in the next twelve months and felt better prepared to adapt and operate should a future stay at home order be required.

Our Tampa Bay EDC team is honored to be working with so many business, academic, and nonprofit leaders in our community as we help each other get through this challenging time. We are looking to our peers and colleagues in other markets as well for best practices and creative ideas for reopening our economy. We will share these best practices as we find them on the EDC’s COVID-19 resources page, and hope that you will check that often for useful information.

I’ll have more updates to share for you next week, but until then, please keep well and stay positive.

Thank you.