Some might, say, “Times don’t get any more interesting than these!” I would suggest that the word “interesting” can be used in many ways. For the Chamber, “interesting” just means that we have another opportunity to fix something, or initiate something or challenge something. The triple pandemic of virus, racism and economic recovery gives us opportunities to do all three!
Clearly, the Chamber and business community can’t solve COVID-19. Our health professionals will figure this out. I would imagine that it doesn’t get much more interesting in their world than solving a global pandemic. We can all participate in the solution by implementing health precautions with our employees and families. Those precautions are part of our WE RISE recovery plan, along with the benchmarks we are tracking and our phased approach to return to office planning.
Navigating business interruption is certainly something the Chamber should engage in, and I think we have done so with flying colors. Even so, there is still much to do to accelerate out of the economic pandemic.
The WE RISE effort and the Thrive 2020 task forces are doing their work identifying ways to accelerate recovery; and, in some cases, the teams are already implementing strategies. In the next couple of months, we plan to announce additional new approaches to accelerating economic growth.
Protests and demonstrations around racism and systemic inequities which marginalize specific populations in our society have brought to all of our attentions that these long- standing issues impact our businesses and our communities. If not addressed, Omaha will not be the best it can be. If addressed, Omaha can engage everyone in the path to prosperity and achieve what Omaha 2040 envisioned a few years ago.
The Chamber will continue to engage in these issues, as we have been engaging in business diversity and inclusion through CODE. But we need to accelerate our work. Our CEOs for CODE initiative generated a WE WILL statement, which more directly outlines what businesses can do to ensure that Omaha is known as an inclusive community where we can all live, work and have a business. An implementation structure and strategy will be developed and presented to you soon for your involvement.
In the meantime, businesses are reopening, and either expanding their efforts to bring employees back to the work place, or finding some new mix of work-from-home-opportunities, as well as traditional in-office work.
Consumers still need to get comfortable consuming in person again. Some national studies show that as much as 40 percent of consumers still feel some hesitancy – or downright uncomfortableness – with going back to pre-COVID-19 consumer practices. This means, we still have work to do to increase consumer confidence. And, the work on race relations and equity needs to be an accelerated part of our conversation as we enter our next normal.
You and we have a lot to think about right now. We will try to give you information that will help you make good decisions. In the end, it will all be up to decisions you make for your businesses. Let us know how we can help you in that process.
Be safe. Be optimistic. WE WILL RISE and be the best Omaha we can be.
We Rise: Economic Recovery Plan
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