Planning for an inclusive recovery in the U.S.

April 23, 2020

The global pandemic and its impacts have exposed many critical challenges facing the U.S. economy — declining economic dynamism, growing disparities between workers and increasing geographic inequality. As we look to the future, there is an opportunity to build a stronger and more inclusive economy coming out of this crisis.

Businesses that are owned by women and people of color will be among the hardest hit in an era of social distancing, and the support systems we have in place don’t always reach the smallest businesses with the most need. When small businesses close, it can create a multiplier that can harm the well-being of entire communities and local economies. And it’s not just businesses closing down — it’s also new businesses that never get to open.

That’s why we must look at ways to spur inclusive development and economic development as well as ensure underserved neighborhoods have access to the resources they need to be resilient and rebuild. There is an opportunity to create a new baseline for how public and private sectors work together to provide relief and support for small businesses, particularly as this crisis highlights gaps in digital infrastructure that can be closed to connect local entrepreneurs with technology and platforms that can help their businesses survive and recover from this global pandemic.

We also know that data is a powerful tool for identifying actionable trends and developing insights that can guide sound decision-making. But national-level data doesn’t always give us a clear picture of what’s happening in particular communities or with specific demographics. Having up-to-date insights that enable policymakers to monitor the impact of recovery efforts against gender, racial and geographic measurements will be critical for advancing inclusive and equitable outcomes.

Here are four takeaways for planning a more inclusive recovery:

  1. Policies need to intentionally integrate equity and inclusion principles and measure for gaps across racial, gender and geographical lines.
  1. There is no inclusive recovery without the resiliency of micro and small businesses. The survival of many of these businesses will hinge on how quickly they can access financial support and whether local distribution channels can be activated in time. 
  1. We need to start preparing for a rapid and dramatic scaling up of our workforce development system to fundamentally upgrade skills and get people back to work.
  1. In the end, people live in communities and recovery efforts must be co-created at the local level. Trusted community institutions will be critical for setting the table and bringing all sectors together.

It’s now more important than ever that we tap into the superpower of collaboration to lay down the strategies of recovery. Together we can leverage the power of networks like City Possible — 100 cities that come together to identify the common challenges that are best solved through collective wisdom – to create more resilient communities and build the roadmap for really inclusive recovery.

Despite the very real and ongoing challenges we’re facing, we have a unique opportunity to create a new chapter. We can choose to be forward-looking as the world resets following COVID-19. We must map a future that includes equity and inclusion at the start with planning — and not at the end. The opportunity is there for all of us to come out of this much stronger than we were before, including those who have traditionally been excluded.

The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth is working to tap into our deep multisector partnerships and the expertise of Mastercard employees to start laying the groundwork for an inclusive recovery. Learn more about Mastercard’s $250 million commitment to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19, and sign up to join our next two webinars.

This piece was adapted from key learnings from our most recent webinar, “Policies for an Inclusive Recovery in American Cities.” For the webinar, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth partnered with Public Private Strategies to convene experts from the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, the Economic Innovation Group and Urban Institute to discuss ways policymakers can help ensure all residents and communities can contribute to and benefit from an economic rebound. Watch the recap.