Regional COVID-19 task force further outlines achievable vision for economic equity, recovery, and renewal in the DMV PRESS RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C., July 17, 2020 – Connected DMV’s COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force held its third meeting on Thursday, continuing to affirm its support for regional collaboration and making recommendations for flexible work schedules, a regional economic development strategy, and a regional cybersecurity initiative. The Task Force unites the expertise and networks of regional leaders to develop a path for economic renewal for the region. “Across the nation we are keeping the health and safety of our communities at the top of mind as we reopen our studios in accordance with state and local guidance," said Task Force member Anne Mahlum, Founder, Owner, and CEO of Solidcore. "With our DMV locations being among the most recent to reopen, it's clear that both business leaders and consumers alike will continue to face pressures that impact the business-customer relationship. The work of the Task Force is vital to shaping sensible recovery and smart growth for the regional economy." Amid a rapidly evolving economic and business landscape, the Task Force’s recommendations also account for shifting regional demographics and the inequitable impact of the pandemic on various populations. “This year is likely to be characterized as a period that illuminated the inequities that plague our region,” said Richard Bynum, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, PNC Financial Services Group. “This Task Force has a vital role to play in helping our region recover and rebuild in a way that mitigates these disparities and builds a better future for our diverse communities. At PNC we want to help both our country and this region rebuild in a way that is unmistakably equitable, in particular where these efforts intersect with the business community and Black economic empowerment, financial education, and social justice.” While the Task Force’s efforts to reposition and renew our region as we emerge from the pandemic continue, Thursday’s meeting addressed workforce, data, and broader economic initiatives to strengthen the local market and reduce regional inequities. Flexible Work Schedules The 51-member Task Force—comprised of regional leaders from the public and private sectors, academia, and community—approved a recommendation to design and implement a flexible work schedules agreement among the region's largest employers to reduce peak-time commutes for their workers in support of regional recovery. Shifting peak-time congestion reduces the potential for COVID-19 transmission on public transit and helps to protect essential personnel and others required to commute during rush-hour or with limited mode-shift options. A working group will finalize details of the agreement, including definition of peak times; scope and nature of the agreement; a public relations campaign; consideration of optimal employee behavior-tracking mechanisms; and coordination with Federal and local governments, schools, colleges and universities, day cares, and public transportation agencies—including WMATA—to implement the initiative. “As the DMV continues to return to work, the Task Force has approved a recommendation to immediately shape an 18-month agreement among the region’s largest employers to support flexible work scheduling, easing peak-time congestion on public transit and roadways,” said Lesley Kalan, Corporate Vice President and Chief Strategy Development Officer, Northrop Grumman. “Such a model can improve quality of life, air quality, and productivity for workers across the region.” Regional Economic Development The Task Force also discussed the need to develop a regional economic development strategy for integrated, inclusive, and transparent economic renewal across the DMV. The recommendation calls to commission a six-month working group to initiate the development of an actionable regional economic strategy that balances regional progress with local needs. The recommendation also suggests developing priorities to strengthen our existing capabilities and to attract new industries and organizations to the region. “I am gratified that this diverse and respected group has recommended creation of a regional economic development strategy,” said Victor Hoskins, President and CEO, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “A coordinated, cross-sector approach that diversifies our region’s economic base to achieve inclusive, equitable economic growth and resilience can help shape the DMV into the leading metropolitan area in the nation. Only by working together as one region will we be able to compete against other mega-regions of the world to attract and retain businesses, talented workers, innovators, and capital. And now, as the region recovers from the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, is the perfect time to craft a strategy that highlights the resources and assets of the entire region.” Regional Cybersecurity Initiative The Task Force’s third and final recommendation from Thursday’s meeting emphasized the need to initiate a region-wide cybersecurity capability to protect local jurisdictions, communities, organizations, and businesses of all sizes. Recognizing the value of coordinating, collaborating, and sharing capabilities among government, industry, academia, and non-profits to better protect against complex cyber threats, the Task Force recommended establishing a design team to develop a cross-sector model. Benefits of this integrated cybersecurity model include increasing our collective protection and response capabilities, using economies of scale to benefit all, and creating a national model for coordinated cybersecurity operations that incorporate best practices from industry and government. “An increasingly digital environment, complicated both by the fragmentation of our metropolitan areas across two states and the District of Columbia, and the concentration of mission critical national assets, makes our region particularly vulnerable to sophisticated cyber threat actors,” said Jim Cook, Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Partnerships, The MITRE Corporation. “To combat this, the Task Force recommends a regional cybersecurity capability that can work across domains, industries, and jurisdictions to seamlessly protect government, communities, organizations, and businesses as we recover and move forward from this current crisis.” Connectivity for All In advance of its August meeting, the Task Force is preparing a recommendation that calls for enabling connectivity for all in the DMV. Hon. Anthony Williams, CEO & Executive Director, Federal City Council, said on Thursday: “The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated that as society’s reliance on digital capabilities has grown, so has the digital divide. The availability, accessibility, and affordability gaps for digital services are directly impacting residents’ use of critical education, work, health, and social services, constraining the economic health and well-being of our residents. While many of our regional stakeholders have focused initiatives for improved connectivity underway, more must be done to support the DMV’s recovery and renewal. This Task Force will be reviewing specific recommendations from its working group to accelerate connectivity for all through collaborative public-private-academia solutions.” Connected DMV is powered by 18 Solution Groups, comprising over 300 volunteers from over 175 different organizations across this region. These Solution Groups work closely with the core team at Connected DMV to research, discuss, and formulate the recommendations for deliberation by the Task Force, and to develop the corresponding implementation plans. Sixteen regional organizations and many of their members are also participating. The region is collaborating at scale to create a stronger, more resilient, and equitable region for all that live, work, and play in the DMV. Over the course of the next three months, the Task Force will continue to release actionable recommendations that will complement and help connect the efforts of regional governments. The results will set the foundation for a more robust and durable marketplace for innovators, small and large businesses, and other organizations to thrive in our nation’s capital region.