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New Task Force Will Plan Chicago’s Economic Recovery From Coronavirus

"What we are on embarking on is nothing less than the most breathtaking recovery effort our city has ever seen," Mayor Lightfoot said.

Second Lieutenant Jon Kent, the officer in charge of National Guard relief efforts at the McCormick Place, explains the details of Alternate Care Facilities (ACFs) to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, Ill., April 1, 2020.
U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Jay Grabiec
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CHICAGO — The city has created a task force to plan how Chicago and its workers will recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, announced Thursday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials, will include business leaders, local officials, activists and others from across Chicago and nearby regions. They’ll provide Lightfoot with recommendations for how to help Chicago recover economically while balancing the physical and mental health needs of Chicago amid the crisis.

“The crisis we face today is like nothing any of us has ever experienced. Across our [country], the numbers of the unemployed have reached a staggering 17 million, and nonpayments for rent have skyrocketed over 60 percent since April,” Lightfoot said at a press conference. “What we are on embarking on is nothing less than the most breathtaking recovery effort our city has ever seen.”

Chicagoans have faced a host of issues related to the pandemic: Requests for food assistance spiked 50 percent after the stay at home order was enacted March 21, Lightfoot said, and 247,000 people in Chicago made unemployment insurance claims in March.

Many have been left wondering how they’ll pay rent or their mortgage and put food on the table for their families while out of work due to the pandemic.

The task force will look at how Chicago can tackle those issues, searching for solutions to help people stay in their homes, keep open their small businesses and stay healthy mentally amid the traumatic pandemic.

The task force will first focus on creating a plan to help Chicagoans cope with loss and grief from the pandemic.

Members will also look at how unemployment has risen due to coronavirus and come up with ideas for how to reverse that and how to “reaffirm Chicago as a destination for businesses, workers, tourism and events,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

The task force will also look to ensure Chicago’s recovery bolsters the recovery of nearby cities and counties, and vice versa.

Finally, members of the task force will create a “change study” to determine the extent of the economic hardship faced in Chicago and the surrounding region due to coronavirus.

The task force is split into five groups headed by local leaders:

Policy and Economic Stimulus

• Roberto Herencia, chairman, Byline Bank
• Mellody Hobson, co-CEO, Ariel Investments
• Bob Reiter, president, Chicago Federation of Labor
• Jenny Scanlon, CEO, UL

Mental and Emotional Health

• Evelyn Diaz, president, Heartland Alliance
• Karen Freeman Wilson, president and CEO, Urban League of Chicago
• Alexa James, executive director, National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago

Marketing and Business Development

• Sandra Cordova Micek, CEO, WTTW | WFMT
• Richard Edelman, CEO, Edelman
• Anton Seals, executive director, Grow Greater Englewood

Regional Coordination

• Daniel Cronin, board chairman, DuPage County
• Toni Preckwinkle, board president, Cook County
• Joseph T. Tamburino, mayor, Village of Hillside

Economic Change Study

• Ben Harris, executive director, Kellogg Public-Private Initiative at Northwestern University
• Ai-Jen Poo, co-founder, National Domestic Worker’s Alliance

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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