Build Back Better, Together focus on increasing resiliency, battling pandemic and addressing systemic racism
Mayor Greg Fischer today hosted the Build Back Better, Together Leadership Convening where leaders updated the community on actions taken, including the creation of multiple funds to help residents in need and beginning of equity and inclusion audits, as well as ongoing conversations about how to make Louisville a stronger and more equitable city.
“It is unclear when we as a city and country will begin to move beyond the pandemic into a period of recovery. As a result, the original mission of Build Back Better, Together to focus on how we recover has shift to ‘How do we increase our resiliency to ensure we are prepared for anything that may come?” the Mayor said. “As a city we have to find ways to strike a balance between doing what we have to so we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, while also helping our businesses and creating fundamental change that leads to greater equity and racial justice.”
Even with a measured reopening process, case numbers and deaths in Louisville, Kentucky, and the nation are still rising and continue to disproportionally impact Black and brown communities, making it premature to plan for a full reopening and economic recovery. As such, the BBBT initiative is focus growing the city’s resiliency.
The BBBT focus area teams – arts and culture; built and natural environment; economy; education and talent development; health and safety; hospitality, sports and Bourbonism; and social infrastructure and impact – are prioritizing equity issues that must be addressed before, during, and after any eventual recovery to address economic and health impacts of COVID-19 and dismantle systemic racism. And as actions and policies are being developed and recommended, the teams will re-assess risks and re-evaluate vulnerabilities considering the swiftly changing circumstances of the economy, pandemic and calls for racial justice.
During the Leadership Convening, co-chairs from each focus area spoke about their teams’ ongoing conversations and highlighted actions taken, including:
- Creation of multiple artist relief funds, including Fund for the Arts’ Black Artist Fund and Cultural Lou Recovery Grants
- Identified best practices and recommendations for safely reopening crafted by representatives from more than 50 local organizations
- Established Black Tourism Advisory Council within Louisville Tourism, which also hosted its inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training with nearly 450 participants
- Creation of Community Activation Network by Center for Nonprofit Excellence to foster further connection between nonprofits and created a survey to determine priority areas
- Start of equity review of the Land Development Code by Develop Louisville staff
- Expansion of opportunities for outdoor dining for restaurants through Louisville Metro policies changes and assistance
- Launch of the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grants Program by Louisville Forward
- Announcement of Evolve502 scholarship program for JCPS graduates who enroll at Simmons College of Kentucky or any of the state’s Kentucky Community and Technical College System campuses
- Creation of Eviction Prevention COVID-19 Relief Fund by Louisville Metro and partnership with the courts and Legal Aid to provide backstop for eviction cases
- Analysis of representation in arts and culture venues, programs, and public spaces
The co-chairs also listed potential actions under discussion, including:
- Analyzing various public spaces for use as venues for arts programming
- Exploring the possible elimination of fines and other barriers to access to LFPL services
- Considering sustained closure of roads in Iroquois and Cherokee parks and leverage existing work to create more access to Beargrass Creek
- Producing MBE/BIPOC directory to increase supplier diversity
- Identifying sustainable funding models and more opportunities for collaboration across nonprofits that undertake similar work
- Determine funding options to expand wrap-around services for students
- Building a more robust small business support system