Governor Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery released their report last week, highlighting the progress made thus far by the administration, Task Force, state agencies, and other community partnerships working to address the ongoing pandemic-induced recession. In addition to progress being made, the report also identifies priorities and challenges as the state works to rebuild a more equitable and resilient economy. The CA EDGE Coalition applauds the Governor and members of the Task Force for their leadership and bold actions taken to assist California’s small businesses, workers, and underserved communities.
In April, the Governor created the Task Force and brought together a diverse group of leaders from various sectors, communities, and regions of the state, including labor unions, businesses, academia, philanthropy, legislative leaders, and advocates. Task Force members brought to the table their expertise and deep insights into the economic recovery needs of various industries and communities. Some of the actions taken by the Task Force include helping shape the state’s reopening guidelines; informed the Governor’s economic development package and expanded worker protections; lobbied for critical federal relief; and advocated for the urgent need to take action on the long-standing racial and economic inequities across society.
As detailed in the report, the Task Force crafted the following priorities and principles to guide the state’s continued progress toward a just and sustainable recovery:
• Preserve California’s competitive edge by supporting the needs of businesses in the state is essential to our short- and long-term recovery.
• Expand efforts to create quality jobs for all Californians by creating equitable pathways to them. This is particularly important for communities of color most impacted by the pandemic and recession, which have been historically underserved.
• Focus on sectors that correlate to California’s strengths. California’s strongest and most resilient sectors should be a core focus of ongoing recovery strategies to develop quality jobs that meet the growing demand. The care economy, including childcare and elder care, is a prime example of a growth industry in California.
• Pursue inclusive regional strategies that leverage each region’s assets and mix of industries by encouraging cross-sector partnerships at the regional level to drive economic recovery.
• Continue to support essential workers. The state must continue to increase the production of PPE, expand access to testing, and enhance workplace safety.
• Expand support and provide flexibility to small businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color and operating in economically distressed areas.
• Continue efforts to close the digital divide in order to support a sustainable, long-term recovery.
• Promote telemedicine. The Task Force identified telemedicine as a way to provide essential care to more Californians, building on the gains in virtual health made during the pandemic and improving access, affordability, and equity of care.
• Incorporate equity and sustainability at every stage of the recovery effort. The state must help create jobs and opportunities for industries that will likely decline amid the transition to a carbon neutral-economy, and for the communities that will be impacted.
These principles are reflected in some of the work already underway through initiatives, collaborations, philanthropic and State/Federal investments. This includes the California Rebuilding Fund, a new public-private partnership to support the state’s small businesses by offering flexible, and free advisory services through community-based lenders. This year’s state budget allocated $25 million for the Fund to assist impacted small businesses with loans in order to help keep their doors open. EDGE supported this budget item during the 2020 legislative session
Additionally, we are pleased that some of the Task Force principles are also aligned with EDGE’s priorities for the upcoming year, some of which include creating more opportunities for workforce training that lead to quality jobs; expand apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs; support workers and employers in COVID-19 response and recovery, and close the digital divide. More specifically, the Task Force proposes steps to close the digital divide by working to identify where the need for improved connectivity was greatest, helping to secure donations for devices and hot spots to serve students, and enlisting the support of internet service providers in expanding access to low-cost plans for families in need. The CA Broadband Council is also currently developing a statewide action plan, as instructed by the Governor’s executive order earlier this year.
The CA EDGE Coalition, in partnership with the National Skills Coalition, submitted a comment letter on behalf of Skills for California, a statewide network of organizations advancing workforce development policies that remove systemic barriers and promote an inclusive economy for all Californians. We are pleased to see the Network’s recommendations around digital access, expanding high road industry partnerships and apprenticeship programs, and ensuring all workers have access to quality jobs, are aligned with the Task Force principles and priorities.
Moving forward, EDGE hopes to see more efforts around financial relief for adult learners and workers of color, particularly around securing a safety net; stable funding for education workforce training; ensuring the development of a statewide longitudinal data system can help California identify gaps and disparities in our education and workforce systems; and ensuring our small businesses have the support they need to remain open.
We know there is much work ahead of us, and the CA EDGE Coalition stands ready to work alongside the administration, legislature, and federal partners to move California towards an equitable economic recovery for all.