Planning for a ‘new normal,’ San Jose launches economic recovery council
Nicole Taylor, CEO for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is one of five co-chairs for the new economic recovery council, announced Thursday. Photo by Janice Bitters

San Jose has launched a new advisory council to help map out economic recovery in the tenth-largest U.S. city, as leaders begin mulling the region’s “new normal.”

The five co-chairs of the council, announced by Mayor Sam Liccardo on Thursday, will aim to jump-start the region’s economy and help bring back the 200,000 Santa Clara County jobs lost in the past four weeks as residents stay home due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and resulting regional and statewide orders to shelter in place.

Despite the massive layoffs and bleak outlook for the economy in the coming months, leaders of the council took a decidedly optimistic tone Thursday.

“The fact is there is no blueprint for what we need to do,” said Lisa Su, president and CEO for AMD, and a co-chair for the new economic recovery council. “But I’m also a firm believer that this is a time that we can bring out the best in our communities, the best in our companies, the best in our public and private partnerships and … we have an opportunity to really accelerate the pace of change.”

Califronia’s restrictive stay-home order is tentatively expected to start loosening in the coming weeks. Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody this week said she’s cautiously optimistic about local infection rates, though she hasn’t released a timeline to lift restrictions.

“This is not an effort to undermine Dr. Cody or her peers; science is the ultimate decision maker here,” said Bobby Alvarado, one of the group’s co-chairs and executive officer for the NorCal Carpenters Regional Council. “This is an effort to make sure that all workers, return to a safe and healthy workplace, no matter what industry they represent in a manner that is well thought-out and reasonable.”

In addition to Su and Alvarado, the co-chairs of the new council, known as the Silicon Valley Economic Recovery and Resilience Council include Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems; and Nicole Taylor, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Eventually, the council will include a total of 30 members, who will be announced in the next two weeks. The members will be pulled from a variety of industries, including tech, auto dealers, financial institutions, manufacturing, airlines, hotels, developers, construction, higher education and health care.

There won’t be any elected officials on the council, Liccardo assured Thursday.

“This is primarily employers, along with labor leaders and some other key leaders, who are obviously most at the heart of the decisions around who gets employed, how many and how fast,” Liccardo said.

The group will meet over 100 days to draw up recommendations, though the council hasn’t set a date for its first meeting.

Co-chairs of the council said they’ll address a wide range of issues affecting the economy, including adding jobs, but also a regional lack of “digital inclusion,” the crushing homelessness crisis and other disparities affecting residents and their financial well-being.

“These pressure points of our communities will only be more acute once the pandemic subsides,” Taylor said. “As we reinvent ourselves again — yes, this valley is going to need to reinvent itself and embrace this new normal — there’s an opportunity to do so in a way that lifts everyone up.”

Follow along with San José Spotlight’s real-time coronavirus coverage on our LIVE BLOG here.

Contact Janice Bitters at [email protected] or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

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