Supporting Durham’s Commitment to an Equitable Economic Recovery from COVID-19

January 17, 2021

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FUSE Corps

To respond to the growing impact of Covid-19, the city and county of Durham launched a year-long Recovery and Renewal Task Force that ends this May. To prevent a gap in this critical work, which includes creating strategies and initiatives to advance an equitable economic recovery, the city of Durham will partner with a FUSE Executive Fellow for one-year to develop a plan for moving recommendations forward beyond the term of the task force.

This fellowship project begins on April 26, 2021, and ends on April 25, 2022. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of April 26, 2021. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on May 3, 2021

PROJECT CONTEXT

Under the leadership of Mayor Steve Schewel and Chair of the Board Commissioners Wendy Jacobs, the City and County of Durham launched a Recovery and Renewal Task Force (RRTF) in May 2020 to respond to the growing impacts of COVID-19. The RRTF has advised local elected leaders and served as a vehicle for meaningfully engaging the community in the dual purpose of mitigating community spread of COVID-19 while charting a course toward an equitable path to recovery. The 15-person task force represents Durham’s rich diversity and includes public health experts, business leaders, government professionals, and community and faith leaders. The RRTF has engaged hundreds of Durham residents over the past several months through various community roundtables and townhalls, including groups dedicated to vulnerable populations, immigrants and refugees, places of worship, education, and over a dozen industry-specific groups that range from personal services and restaurants to festivals.

The RRTF has prioritized its work using a three-phased understanding of the pandemic and its longer-term consequences for the Durham community: (1) a public health crisis, (2) an economic crisis, and (3) a mental/behavioral health crisis. While these phases are interconnected and unfolding simultaneously, the RRTF has focused most of its efforts over the past six months with dealing with the immediate public health crisis and developing strategies to mitigate the community-spread of the virus. The RRTF has worked in collaboration with community leaders to develop and launch a number of initiatives including a public health campaign called Back on the Bull, a community health ambassador program, a small business grant program, a symptom monitoring and testing program, and PPE distribution efforts.

Over the next several months, the task force plans to dedicate more attention and resources to strategies and initiatives that can advance an equitable economic recovery for businesses and workers. The RRTF has established a dedicated subcommittee focused on the economic recovery that includes business leaders from our local Chamber of Commerce, Discover Durham, Downtown Durham Inc., North Carolina Central University’s Business School, and El Centro Hispano. Leaders have started to build a broad strategy for economic recovery that includes an immediate focus on talent development and back to work programs, small business resiliency, small business promotion, and infrastructure support for public health to enable the safe return of businesses. In January, starting with a Workers Townhall, the task force began developing additional initiatives aimed at supporting workers, especially those in low-wage industries most impacted by COVID-19.

The task force currently is set to end in May 2021. Before it ends, the RRTF will submit any recommendations to the City and County regarding actions they can take to support Durham’s ongoing equitable recovery from COVID-19. The City of Durham will partner with FUSE Corps to host an Executive Fellow for one-year to develop a plan for moving forward RRTF recommendations beyond the term of the task force. The Executive Fellow will be an integral part of moving select work forward, convening necessary stakeholders, and providing updates to City leaders on advancing RRTF recommendations.

 

 

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the Executive Fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Executive Fellow and the host agency

Starting in April 2021, the FUSE Executive Fellow will review the past efforts of the Recovery and Renewal Task Force (RRTF) over the course of its service year supporting the city in its COVID response efforts. The FUSE Executive Fellow will evaluate the impact made and identify the lessons learned, efforts that worked well, what the City should discontinue and the areas to continue to invest. As part of the initial learning and orientation phase of the project, the Executive Fellow will work quickly to build deep relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, including members of the RRTF, Durham Tech, the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders critical to Durham’s economic recovery efforts. The Executive Fellow will conduct a listening tour to better understand the needs the community and the public and private sector, and to identify opportunities to strengthen coordination amongst stakeholders with the collective goal of recovering Durham’s economy and setting its workforce up for long-term success. The FUSE Executive Fellow will review RRTF’s recommendations for the development of specific initiatives to advance priority areas identified by RRTF’s subcommittee on economic recovery, including talent development and back to work programs, small business resiliency, small business promotion, and supports for workers, especially those in low-wage industries to gauge alignment with needs of the Durham community.

The Executive Fellow will also research promising initiatives to support economic recovery efforts in other cities in similar size and demographic makeup to determine a set of best practices and assess their applicability to the Durham context. The Executive Fellow will take the information gathered and create a public report on the current state of recovery efforts broadly with specific recommendations targeting economic recovery.

Using the recommendations outlined in this report, the Executive Fellow will then create a thorough and holistic implementation plan to pilot recommendations to address improving the economy. The FUSE Executive Fellow will take the lead on the planning. and execution, helping design the systems to manage project implementation. The plan should also clearly define roles and responsibilities for internal and external stakeholders. The Executive Fellow will then work to initiate recommendations and activities that are most urgent and can be implemented within the duration of the fellowship. Throughout the course of the project, the Executive Fellow will cultivate relationships with key stakeholders invested in rebuilding Durham’s economy and ensuring that the workers most impacted by the economic downturn are equipped with the skillset to re-enter the workforce.

By early Fall, the Executive Fellow will have recommendations to inform the design of a dashboard to populate economic data used to serve as an ongoing tool for local policymakers to track the economic impact through an equity lens. The Fuse Executive Fellow will lead the development of a structure and platform for tracking and communicating regular 90-day progress reports to City leadership and community partners on the status of initiatives, including metrics that help City leaders disaggregate important outcomes by race and ethnicity at a frequency that can inform decision making at the local level. By April 2022, the Executive Fellow will have published a report on Durham’s COVID- response initiatives, established a culture and system of collaboration between internal and external entities dedicated to restoring Durham’s economy and established a dashboard to aggregate economic data to identify areas of inequities and make actionable decisions. Working collaboratively with a diverse group of community stakeholders, the Executive Fellow will: 

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape and engage stakeholdersConduct a landscape analysis, collating all relevant COVID-response programming, policies, and processes and identify cross-cutting themes; facilitate listening tours and other mediums of outreach to engage the community and the public and private sector and gather information; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus; facilitate ongoing community participation; build new strengthen existing lines of communication between stakeholders.
  • Research economic recovery initiatives across the country and identify best practices – Identify successful and innovative economic recovery initiatives, determine a set of research-based best practices, and assess their applicability to the Durham context; make recommendation for economy recovery initiatives that promote growth and develop the local workforce.
  • Develop an implementation framework and roll out recommendations – Establish framework outlining short and long-term goals, timelines, priority areas and clear roles of internal and external stakeholders; coordinate and leverage all resources for maximum impact; oversee implementation of strategies considered low-hanging fruit; Identify barriers to implementing any recommendations. solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to better coordinate across sectors on economy relief and recovery.
  • Support long-term implementation – Identify relevant success metrics, setting benchmarks for tracking progress; support capacity building, creating internal infrastructure and systems; work with leadership across Departments and Divisions to effectively advance recommendations; measure and broadly share progress towards goals; and integrate accountability mechanisms for long-term deployment and continual evaluation of the framework, ensuring community needs and racial equity is centered in all strategies.
  • Expand partnerships across the public and private sector and catalyze buy-in– Build new partnerships and strengthen existing lines of communication between stakeholders. Identify opportunities to expand jobs, and workforce training and work to align perspectives and address any conflicts. Identify barriers to implementing any recommendations; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus around the plan to better coordinate workforce and economic recovery efforts.
  • Establish metrics for economic recovery and create a dashboard and reporting system – Identify creative metrics to assess the city’s economic state with an equity lens; inform the development of a system and dashboard to report metrics; publish quarterly reports on progress, action steps and deliverables to all governing bodies.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Ryan Smith, Innovation and Performance Manager, Office of Performance and Innovation
  • Bertha Johnson, Director of Budget and Management, Budget and Management Services 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 15 years of professional experience with a strong background in developing, expanding and coordinating innovative partnerships between community and city government
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills with the keen ability to synthesize both qualitative and quantitative information
  • Ability to work with university interns to translate large data sets into resources and reports targeted at various audiences including governing bodies
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, easily able to tell stories to engage diverse stakeholders
  • Personable with proven ability to make and deliver powerful presentation, with ease in public speaking
  • Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences
  • Strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Strong cross-team collaborator
  • Capacity to sustain progress within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.