Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is one of five elected officials across the country who will head a national group focused on rebuilding the economy in the wake of COVID-19.
The group, Renewing America Task Force, will work to promote state and local policy solutions related to economic recovery during and post pandemic.
Others serving on the task force include Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan Garlin Gilchrist II, Baltimore delegate Brooke Lierman, and Oregon treasurer Tobias Read.
"We are in the midst of one of the most transformative periods in history," Harris said. "Fortunately, the NewDEAL and NewDEAL Forum have always provided opportunities for leadership, collaboration, and innovation. As we all fight the spread of COVID-19 and safely and responsibly navigate this new normal, we can recover and we can even emerge stronger.
Discussions of the task force will touch on topics such as increasing affordable housing, supporting entrepreneurs and local economic development, improving access to high-speed internet, and modernizing and strengthening the social safety net.
Additionally, the task force will address opportunities to remedy “long-standing inequities that have discriminated against people of color,” according to a statement from the NewDEAL Forum, the nonprofit that formed the task force.
The NewDEAL Forum works to identify and promote “innovative, future-oriented state and local pro-growth progressive policies.” Specifically, the organization seeks to foster economic growth, reduce barriers to opportunities, and promote “good government” across the country.
“In this moment of crisis, state, and local leaders are stepping up to offer bold and creative ways to protect their communities from the immediate fall-out of the pandemic, while recognizing that our goal should not be to restore America to its pre-pandemic condition,” said NewDEAL Forum CEO Debbie Cox Bultan. “Our country is desperate for leadership that addresses long-time injustices and inequalities that have been exacerbated by this virus, including by embracing the opportunity to tackle systemic racism.
"The Renewing America Task Force will provide a platform for developing and sharing the best ideas for our recovery among officials who can lead their implementation across the country.”
Beginning this week, the task force will meet monthly for in-depth discussions, in which members will identify short and long term concerns and hear from other elected officials and experts. Findings will be released after each meeting, which will be meant to help guide state and local policymakers in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first topic up for discussion will be the pending housing crisis, as millions face eviction amid high unemployment levels.