County announces economic recovery task force

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A task force intended to help identify policies and avenues for reviving Riverside County’s economy amid the coronavirus emergency is in place, officials said today.

“As we continue to fight against the silent enemy, coronavirus, metrics demonstrate that we can now balance that with turning the corner towards economic opportunity,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Manuel Perez said.

“An important part of our efforts is making sure we are workforce-ready and business-ready once the state moves into the next phase in its roadmap,” he said. “I envision this local economic recovery team as identifying resources, policies and opportunities that can help the local economy bounce back sooner in … Riverside County as a whole.”

Perez and Supervisor Karen Spiegel proposed the Economic Recovery Task Force, and on April 21, the full board approved the concept.

“We need to be prepared as we come out of this,” Spiegel said immediately after the vote. “It won’t happen overnight … but our business community is extremely important.”

The task force idea was introduced within days of President Donald Trump unveiling his multi-phase “Opening Up America Again” framework. On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a four-phase move toward unbinding the private sector from coronavirus mitigation regulations, primarily the state stay-at-home order, now in effect for six weeks.

Next Tuesday, Perez and Spiegel will seek board support for rescinding all the remaining public health orders unilaterally implemented by county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser, who recommends keeping the restrictions in place until June 19. They include required usage of face coverings outside the home, prohibitions against short-term rentals and school closures.

Perez said Thursday that a significantly lower COVID-19 infection rate than had been predicted by the first week of May was among the factors prompting him and Spiegel to seek to end the public health orders and bring the county into complete alignment with only the state’s mandates.

The task force is expected to be operative for 18 months, though the board could always extend the timeline, if the participating parties are amenable.

“We have assembled a fantastic wealth of knowledge and expertise to serve on the Economic Recovery Task Force, while ensuring representation across the county,” Spiegel said.  “Their combined expertise, innovation and collaboration will be instrumental in developing a comprehensive and methodical approach towards re-opening our business communities and providing the support our region will need to rebound our economy.”

The task force members are:
— Lou Monville, Riverside Convention and Visitors Bureau;
— Josh Bonner, Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce;
— Tom Kirk, Coachella Valley Association of Governments;
— Joe Wallace, Coachella Valley Economic Partnership;
— Bobby Spiegel, Corona Chamber of Commerce;
— Scott White, Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau;
— Cindy Roth , Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce;
— Paul Granillo, Inland Empire Economic Partnership;
— Kim Cousins, Lake Elsinore Chamber of Commerce;
— Oscar Valdepena, Moreno Valley Chamber of Commerce;
— Rachel Johnson, Riverside County Farm Bureau;
— Emily Fallappino, Temecula Chamber of Commerce;
— Kimberly Adams, Visit Temecula Valley;
— Rick Bishop, Western Riverside Council of Governments;
— Patrick Ellis, Murrieta-Wildomar Chamber of Commerce;
— Phil Bailey, Wine Growers Association; and
— Jamil Dada, Riverside County Workforce Development Board.

A meeting schedule for the group has not been announced yet.