Mayor Lauren McLean
The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has exposed in our community – just as it has in other places around the country – the vulnerabilities in our economy. We have also had a reckoning around race and equitable access to the benefits of a new shared economy. Surprising opportunities become apparent as we move forward into a new economic reality. COVID-19 taught us that, when we must, we can change the way we work and live.
Our Economic Recovery Task Force will help us launch an economic development plan, focus our efforts on strategic actions, and ensure we have something against which we’re held accountable. The Task Force met for the first time and one thing was clear: we all understand that things will be different, and the people of Boise are committed to helping us move our economy forward.
Our recovery efforts will be based on an actionable plan, and the creation of that plan will include community engagement and partnership with stakeholders throughout this valley – because our role as a city government is to convene partners, engage the community, and leverage efforts to build a stronger and more resilient economy in the years to come. My belief: our focus on climate innovation, willingness to imagine what’s next and prepare for it, investments and policy changes to increase housing options for everyone, and transportation to connect people from home to work are the blueprint for our recovery.
I’m deeply grateful to this group for their time and focus on our future. Although there will be numerous more meetings throughout the summer with a summary report and actionable recovery plan slated for early fall, the group focused their initial work session on lessons learned and finding opportunities.
“I’m delighted to be working with this incredible group of leaders to consider how best to help Boise thrive,” Said Dr. Marlene Tromp, President, Boise State University. “Our first meeting gave me the opportunity to hear the insights of people with deep roots in the Boise community about our opportunities to recover and make a positive impact on the whole state.”
“While we work as a team to create an effective plan, identify priority focus areas and create models for recovery, it’s important that we think broadly because of the extreme nature of this disruption. As a community, I believe we’ll come out with new best practices and adopt healthier practices. Education is going to be a critical component to creating our new economy,” said Skip Oppenheimer, CEO of Oppenheimer Companies. “We have a great team assembled and I am eager to dig in to help find solutions for Boise.”
The Task Force shared lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic covering a wide range of subjects including education, workforce flexibility, housing, vulnerable populations, effects on the non-profit sector, technology and more. Affordable and accessible education is out of reach for many and the group felt that assisting vulnerable populations and addressing racism are critical factors as we move forward. While the increase in telecommuting has impacted transportation patterns, the task force noted that productivity increased due to virtual meeting platforms but found collaboration to be harder online – that teams want to be together.
Clear areas of focus emerged outlining significant opportunities. The dramatic rise in need for cyber security and remote employees was notable. Opportunities were discussed that revolve around supporting workforce development by increasing telework and transportation options, fostering affordable housing, providing childcare and insurance options, and creating opportunities for more education and access to technology. The task force discussed how these considerations become critical components to growing the economy in a sustainable manner.
This is just the beginning of this process and we look forward to widening the conversations with our community partners. We know we will pull through this together to become a stronger and more vibrant community. I am profoundly appreciative of our community business leaders for joining the team as we seek innovative, creative solutions, with – and for – the entire community, toward recovery as we create a 21st century Boise for everyone.