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Issues that shape a local COVID-19 response

Part of a Series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19

The City of Long Beach (Cal., USA, 10 April 2020) presents an interesting take on the role of local councils in responding to COVID-19 and its longer-term economic implications.

Three possible scenarios

The staff of the City of Long Bay consider three scenarios in responding to COVID-19.

Scenario 1: Wait for the State and Federal Stimulus. There are some US economists and policy makers that believe the economic impacts of COVID-19 will be brief, and that recent stimulus programs from state and federal governments will be sufficient to weather the storm until businesses re-open and people go back to work at previous levels. Thus, local action in this scenario is considered unnecessary because the underlying economy is strong and direct payments, unemployment benefits and small business loans provided by state and federal governments will be enough.

Scenario 2: Wait for Economy to Bounce Back. Under this scenario, the national economy will quickly rebound. Government should get out of the way to allow the local economy to resume its growth. Once restrictions are lifted, businesses will reopen, people will return to work, and both business and consumer spending will resume at pre-COVID-19 levels.

Scenario 3: Take Aggressive Action at the Local Level. Here, it is argued that aggressive government action is needed to invest and grow, particularly during times of financial stress. These economists suggest that government should invest in programs like public safety, public education and public infrastructure to provide residents, businesses and investors the resources and tools they need to incentivise private investments in the economy. In this scenario, aggressive local government action is essential to provide both immediate economic relief for residents and businesses and to create the economic elements necessary for transition to the next phase of economic recovery.

Core principles of a local response

Following these considerations, council staff recommended a response based on three core principles:

  1. Focus City resources on the period of emergency closures;
  2. Preserve existing businesses and jobs and assist with efforts to reinvent business models; and
  3. Maximise recovery of federal stimulus funds for residents and businesses.

Core values

When preparing an effective economic relief package for the City, council staff formulated ten “core values” to anchor each of its recommended initiatives.

  1. Move quickly to limit the impact of the emergency;
  2. Maximise existing resources and partners;
  3. Seek to leverage outside resources;
  4. Build the capacity of our residents and businesses;
  5. Design for everyone—the employer and employee;
  6. Preserve the businesses and workers we already have;
  7. Be inclusive of all members of the community;
  8. Seek and maintain trust with all members of the community;
  9. Maximize return on investment; and
  10. Maintain fiscal discipline.

These core values are not meant to replace the objectives the City will use to measure success. Rather, they are meant to remind everyone of the core values the council has identified to address the current economic emergency facing our residents and businesses.

Other articles is this series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19

For other articles is this series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19 see:

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