Webinar Series in Partnership with Brookings

In partnership with Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, E Pluribus Unum hosted a series of curated conversations for local elected leaders in the summer of 2020 to explore the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on workers, small businesses, cities, and towns as well as how leaders need to respond to the resulting economic fallout. 


The Future of Main Street

Addressing the vulnerability of small, women and black-owned businesses with a recovery lens

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many small, women and Black-owned businesses that serve as the lifeblood and an essential source of employment for cities and towns all over the country. As revenues have plunged, the public and private sectors have taken steps to support small businesses and their employees, but more must be done to ensure these vital businesses don’t close their doors permanently. Local leaders have an important role to play in charting pathways to stabilization and recovery so that small, women and Black-owned businesses can flourish in a post-COVID-19 world.


Joseph Parilla led a conversation and panel discussion focused on effective ways that local officials in cities and towns can address the COVID-19-related vulnerabilities faced by their small business infrastructure. Joseph is a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings where he conducts research on the trends and policies that shape economic performance in cities and regions in the United States and across the world. 

Joseph was joined by EPU Founder & President Mitch Landrieu and speakers from cities that have taken action to ensure that these critical businesses have access to capital to ensure a more equitable economic recovery:

  •       Pam Lewis, Executive Director, New Economy Initiative – Detroit, MI
  •       Kendra Key, Senior Vice President, Hope Credit Union – Birmingham, AL

Catalyzing Workforce Innovation

Strategies for supporting the tidal wave of job seekers

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to deeply impact our cities and towns, leaders need to identify ways to respond to the resulting economic fallout and its effect on workers. Economists predict that only 58% of laid-off workers are likely to return to the job they held pre-COVID. 

Both immediate-term mitigation efforts and longer-term recovery efforts are required to support people as they transition to quality jobs that will support them and their families. Local officials have an important role to play in developing equitable solutions for job seekers and can learn from innovative workforce programs that have already adapted existing services and infrastructure to our new environment.

In this conversation, panelists looked at the scope and challenge of the unprecedented unemployment crisis, as well as ways local governments and NGOs can support job seekers in this pandemic-driven recession. This conversation centers around policy solutions that aim to remove barriers to economic opportunity and combat rising income inequality.

Founder and President of EPU Mitch Landrieu provided opening remarks. 

Annelies Goger will present the scope and challenge of mass layoffs, as well as the opportunities for supporting job seekers. Annelies is a David M. Rubenstein fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings where she focuses on developing innovative policy solutions to address rising inequality and increase access to economic opportunity.

Mitch and Annelies were joined by speakers from cities that have implemented innovative workforce solutions:

  • Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer, Workforce Solutions for the Capital Area – Austin, TX 
  • Lauren King, Director for Workforce Programs, The Greater New Orleans Foundation – New Orleans, LA
  • Suzanna Fritzberg, Founding Executive Director, BhamStrong – Birmingham, AL