Op-ed | Preparing for Recovery

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By Rob Wonderling

The global pandemic has impacted the lives and livelihoods of individuals across the world, nation, and our region in ways both readily apparent and yet to be seen. Stay-at-home orders, historic unemployment, and civil unrest have sidelined growth, productivity, and viability in our business and civic communities—particularly for our small businesses and minority-owned enterprises—and have exposed great inequity in our society.

In response, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (the Chamber) and its regional CEO Council for Growth initiated an unprecedented public-private collaboration with commitments from over 160 expert leaders from the business and civic communities to devise, present, and implement solutions for this crisis in a unified voice as the Philadelphia Regional Recharge and Recovery initiative.

As members convened in June and July to discuss how to move inclusive recovery forward, a vision for our region began to emerge. This vision will serve to both mitigate our current economic emergency and strengthen our region for a prosperous and equitable future.

A lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion was used throughout the process to ensure that recommendations benefit all citizens—particularly focusing on people of color and low-income communities that have been marginalized—and to eradicate systemic racism that exists within our businesses and institutions, consistent with the Chamber’s Equity Pledge.

As we begin to mobilize the region, the following short-term actions have been developed for maximum impact over the next several months: We seek to prioritize regional health and safety through coordinated testing, contact tracing, communications, and operating standards; create opportunities for displaced workers and intentionally commit to diversifying our workforce; and bolster support for Black, brown, and local businesses.

We are working with the City of Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania county governments, Governor Wolf’s administration and the private sector to fund and build capacity to ensure success. We aim to both defend our regional market share and attain greater market share from other regions across several sectors and look for connections across sectors to accelerate recovery and growth as well as differentiate the Philadelphia market among other regions.

As we sprint to accomplish these key short-term actions by early 2021, we are also laying the groundwork for the mid- and long-term recommendations that will guide this work through 2021 and beyond. Representing hundreds of thousands of employees, Greater Philadelphia’s business community is a trusted source for leadership and knows that the more prosperous and equitable future we seek is only possible by working together.

To read the Phase I Recovery initiative visit here.

Rob Wonderling is President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. You can write to Rob at [email protected]