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Chicago mayor announces Economic Recovery Task Force

By Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: May 6, 2020 - 8:09:02 AM

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CHICAGO—In response to the economic downfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot plans to move the city forward with an Economic Recovery Task Force. “When it comes to recovering from this crisis, there can be no half-measures, no cutting corners. It will require bold, visionary action that will build on the measures we have already taken,” she said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot

“The men and women we have brought together are as diverse and dynamic as Chicago itself, drawn from across industries, community- based partners and policy experts, providing the critical insight and guidance needed for our path forward,” Mayor Lightfoot said in an April 23 press conference.

The task force will also focus on mental and emotional health, marketing and business development, include regional coordinators and an economic change study. Members of the task force include Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments; Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor; Jenny Scanlon, CEO of Underwriters Laboratories; Karen Freeman Wilson, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League and former mayor of Gary, Ind.; Alexa James, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Sandra Cordova Micek, CEO of WTTW; Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman; Anton Seals, executive director of Grow Greater Englewood; Daniel Cronin, chairman of the DuPage County Board; Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board; Joseph T. Tamburino, mayor of the Village of Hillside and Ai-Jen Poo, executive director of the Kellogg Public-Private Initiative at Northwestern University and co-founder of the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance.

“I am honored to be one of the Co-Chairs of the Mental and Emotional Health Committee on Mayor Lightfoot’s task force. Each of these topics fits squarely within the Chicago Urban League’s wheelhouse. Earlier this week, we announced the launch of our COVID-19 Community Help Center, which will draw on the League’s expertise in entrepreneurship support, workforce development, housing and financial counseling, and educational enrichment to tailor assistance to addressing hardships stemming from the pandemic,” Ms. Freeman- Wilson said in a statement to The Final Call via email.

“Through our IMPACT Leadership Development Program, we promote professional and civic leadership among young African-American professionals. This is the generation that will play a key role in rebuilding and recovering from Covid-19. We work daily to support educational achievement and social and emotional learning for our children through our Human Capital Center and the Center for Student Development,” she added.

Anton Seals Jr. of Grow Greater Englewood is part of the task force and told The Final Call, he thinks the convening represents some of the additional voices in Chicago necessary to try and address key areas that emerge stemming from the pandemic which has hit the city hard, particularly its Black residents.

“The mayor said she wants it to be bold and transformative and I think that means we’re going to have to have other kinds of voices, so I think I’m one of those other kinds of voices of the present. But I think there has to be a level of commitment, by that I mean a commitment to some truths, holding some truths and then acting on the truths,” said Mr. Seals.

“What I want to bring to the space is how can we tell the story that Black families cannot only live here but thrive here, that there are opportunities for growth, that safety is a priority and how do we really address the key issues of ongoing poverty when we have so much in this country and city,” he continued.

Ai-Jen Poo declined The Final Call’s request for an interview. The Final Call reached out to the remaining task force members but received no response.

Afrika Porter, a Chicago youth advocate said, Mayor Lightfoot has shown diligence in her work and hopes the task force order will reflect that. “I met with her a few times around Anti- Violence Initiative and I met with her around marketing strategies so I’m happy to know that marketing is a part of this task force. I think that a lot of times be it someone starting a business or an initiative here to deal with this particular … a lot of times people leave out the marketing aspect,” she said.

Mayor Lightfoot stated the task force will be creating opportunities for public input “which we have seen time and again as not just valuable but vital, vital to the success of any action that we take and all of this will operate in close alignment with measures we’ve already taken in response to Covid-19, from our Small Businesses Resiliency Loan fund to our housing fund, to the ongoing work of our racial-equity rapid response team.”

“My friends, this is what a recovery taskforce looks like; this is what a recovery task force needs to look like,” she stated.