WE ARE IN GOOD HANDS, AMERICA!
By Sean Garretson, AICP.
I work with the people on the front lines of economic recovery – city planners and economic developers. These are often the unsung heroes in your community who help attract new businesses, create new workforce programs at community colleges, and help existing businesses expand.
Lately, these businesses have been struggling to stay alive – most have been forced to close or greatly reduce their hours of operation. The federal, state, and local governments have been amazing in terms of the funding programs they have put in place to help keep these businesses afloat. Businesses are learning to understand and apply for the various loan programs. Banks have stepped up to fill the growing demand of businesses seeking assistance in keeping their company running, all the while retaining their employees.
I consult with municipalities, community colleges, and economic development organizations across the United States and I can tell you, these are “Can Do” people that are mission driven to get our local economies back on track. I’m convinced that we are in good hands.
I was supposed to visit with two clients in mid-April. The first was to give a final presentation to the leadership of Nacogdoches, Texas on restructuring their economy with a focus on innovative industries. And then, COVID-19 happened. Their economic developer also happens to be on the City’s Emergency Task Force and is, of course, busy with crisis issues. She said to me, “I just threw away my 6-month work plan!” Pegasus has been providing recommendations for their strategic plan and we’ve also added recommendations for dealing with the impacts of the virus in the short- and long-term future. We will plan on presenting these recommendations when group meetings are permitted and, in the meantime, Pegasus continues to work on their behalf.
The second visit next week was scheduled for Amarillo, Texas where Pegasus is working with Amarillo College to convert their downtown campus into an Innovation Hub. Colleges have been significantly impacted by the virus but have adjusted rapidly to online courses. Their College President and his Cabinet, even amidst this logistical nightmare, are continuing to keep an eye on the future and are moving forward with their plans. In the meantime, Pegasus will hold all of our workshops and meetings virtually in place of a personal visit. We anticipate our work being completed as scheduled in late May, when we deliver a final business plan for operating the Innovation Hub.
Pegasus is working with Americans on the frontline of the U.S. economy and workforce development and based on what I’ve seen, we are all in good hands. As America and the world recover from this virus, I have no doubt that my clients and my hometown of Austin will come back to the strength they had before this crisis.