Our economy has been devasted in ways that none of us imagined. National unemployment continuesto rise. It is not unrealistic to expectthat the unemployment rate will crest at 30%. As daunting as this number seems, unemployment will be worse in the mostchallenged segments of the community. Pre-COVID unemployment in African American and Hispanic communities wastriple the national average.
COVID-19 is an economic disaster forcommunities of color. It is hitting small business, MBEs and hourly/gigworkers in ways that most of us don’t understand. JPMorgan Chase Instituteresearchers recently noted that Black and Latinx community businesses onaverage do not have the working capital to endure the pandemic. In general, thesebusinesses have less than 21 days of cash on hand to pay creditors, meetpayroll and continue operations. The Paycheck Protection Program did notprovide the help these businesses need to survive. Many will perish.
As dire asthese statements are, recovery is possible. In fact, it is more than possible. Now is the time for us to correctsome of the systemic wrongs that plagued our society prior to thepandemic. We must rebuild oureconomy. The challenge is whether wewill use this time to recreate what was lost or do we have to the audacity, thetenacity, the creativity, and the courage to chart a new path for ourcommunity. We have a choice to make. Will we choose business as usual, which weargue is not possible, or will we accept the challenge to create a better andstronger Philadelphia?
Our new economymust be built around the 5 Rs:
The5 Rs: Recognition, Recovery, Reform, Reimagining and Resilience are theblueprint for a new dialogue; a strategic path forward that includes all of us.
Anessential element of ensuring that we bring all players to the table and thatwe do not leave any business or people out means that Not-For-Profits must beat the table. We are the voice of smallbusiness, MBEs, WBEs and low-income workers. Enlightened small and mid-marketbusiness leaders must also be at the table. Small and mid-market businesses arethe biggest creators of jobs in the economy. Together Not-For-Profit and Business leaderswill provide our community with the right resources and tools to rebuild. Collectively we can provide the path forwardfor our region to rebuild.
Currently,disenfranchised voices are infrequently heard at the economic dinner table. Intruth, marginalized people are served leftovers from a gluttonous menu ofinequality. COVID-19 is the expression of this long-standing social feedingfrenzy at the expense of the poor. Letus unit and reimage a future Delaware Valley of shared economic abundance.
Judge Renée CardwellHughes, President & CEO, Philadelphia OIC, Michael Pearson, Principal,Michael K. Consulting, Jeff Hornstein, Executive Director, The Economy League,David E. Griffith, Executive Director, Episcopal Community Services, Andrea Custis,President & CEO, Urban League of Philadelphia, Della Clark, President &CEO, Enterprise Center and Cheryl Beth Kuchler, The CEO Think Tank