Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga unite planning economic reopening, recovery from coronavirus

(top row l-r) Nashville and Davidson County Mayor John Cooper, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, (bottom row l-r) Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Nashville and Davidson County Mayor John Cooper, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke have announced the formation of the Tennessee Major Metros Economic Restart Task Force to plan and coordinate the restoration of business activity currently suspended due to COVID-19.

The Tennessee Major Metros Economic Restart Task Force is composed of business leaders and health care professionals appointed jointly by each metro area’s city and county mayors. Task Force appointees were vetted with and agreed to by the County Mayors in each metropolitan area: Mayors Lee Harris (Shelby County), Glenn Jacobs (Knox County), and Jim Coppinger (Hamilton County.) Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has begun a process for planning the reopening of Tennessee’s economy, and this Task Force intends to further link communities together in a coordinated response.

Over the last month, the mayors of Tennessee’s ‘Big Four’ cities and counties have signed multiple executive orders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. These orders have placed their cities under states of civil emergency, asked the public to observe strict social distancing measures, and required the closure of non-essential businesses and public gatherings. Governor Lee has maintained regular contact with Big Four mayors to discuss protocols for eventually lifting these restrictions. The Tennessee Major Metros Economic Restart Task Force is an organized way of collecting input and collaborating with the state government about how to handle this process safely.

The Task Force will listen to medical experts and evaluate economic conditions to develop recommendations and public health protocols for reopening. These recommendations will focus on the factors that indicate when businesses are safe to reopen; how businesses should be smoothly phased in; and the specific requirements for safe business operations.

“As employment centers and healthcare providers for their regions, the four metro areas must coordinate and help inform the statewide approach,” said Mayor John Cooper. “Our challenge is restarting our economy with protocols to protect public health. This Task Force is the city’s part of a statewide solution to safely reopening our economy, and I believe will be a valuable partner to the Governor’s office and the Commissioner Ezell’s Economic Recovery Group.”

“We will get through this crisis by working as a team,” said Mayor Jim Strickland. “It will take that same teamwork to revive our economy and get Memphians back into the workforce and to see our city thriving once again. I look forward to partnering with the governor and the other major cities.”

“Thanks to the cooperation of our residents, we have seen success in ‘flattening the curve’ in our communities, but we know that our economies cannot remain closed indefinitely,” said Mayor Indya Kincannon. “The members of this Task Force will help us implement responsible, data-driven strategies to protect the public and ensure that our partners in the business community can operate safely.”

“From the beginning of this crisis, Tennessee’s major metro areas have been aligned on how to respond to this crisis,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “We’re going to stay aligned as we plan for a prosperous and healthy future.”

The Chiefs of Staff and/or Deputy Mayors of each mayor will staff the Tennessee Major Metros Economic Restart Task Force. It will begin meeting next week and will make public disclosures of their initial discussions, findings, and action steps next week.

Tennessee Major Metros Economic Restart Task Force members:

Memphis

Alan Crone, Crone Law Firm

Charles Ewing, Ewing Moving and Storage

Dr. Manoj Jain, infectious disease specialist

Kevin Kane, Memphis Tourism

Beverly Robertson, Greater Memphis Chamber

 

Nashville

Dr. James Hildreth, Meharry Medical College

Laura Hollingsworth, Ryman Hospitality

Dr. Alex Jahangir, Head of Metro Coronavirus Task Force

Rob McCabe, Pinnacle Financial Partners and Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

 

Knoxville

Kathy Brown, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Dave Miller, First Horizon Bank

Mike Odom, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Steffy, SoKno Taco Restaurant

 

Chattanooga

Philip Byrum, Monen Family Restaurant Group

Wade Hinton, Unum

Dr. Kathleen Hunt, Children’s Hospital at Erlanger

Mitch Patel, Vision Hospitality Group