The Covid-19 Local Support and Community Action Team appointed by Governor Scott released its final report on Nov. 16 for economic and community recovery, praising the hard work and dedication of community leaders and local volunteers who have led Covid response and recovery efforts throughout Vermont. The report celebrates the “commitment [of Vermonters] to each other and to the very best of Vermont’s opportunities,” and claims that in the face of the pandemic, “We rallied, and we are united.”
The Action Team was convened in mid-April as part of the Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force and charged by Governor Scott to find and share best regional and community recovery practices and identify gaps in recovery efforts to ensure equitable distribution of resources, especially in rural areas and underserved populations. The report summarizes ideas and good work going forward reported to the Action Team through 14 county-wide and regional conversations held virtually from July-October 2020 and attended by more than 1,200 Vermonters.
In addition to documenting the ideas and community success stories contributed in the forums and through surveys, the report emphasizes five ideas for action to advance long-term recovery and resilience for Vermont:
Combat racism in all its forms: Vermont should advance equity and inclusion for recovery today and as a foundation for welcoming new residents and enhancing our creative and prosperous future.
Build universal broadband connectivity: Throughout Vermont, citizens are calling for universal and affordable broadband to every home and business; we must build infrastructure, develop civic tools to enhance community, and improve affordability and expand access.
Build an accessible, affordable, and universally available childcare system: Vermont should advance an affordable, high-quality childcare system where all families have access to the childcare they need and where educators are valued, fairly compensated, and supported in their professions.
End homelessness and advance housing for all Vermonters: Vermont should seize this moment to secure affordable housing for previously homeless people and invest in housing to attract new and young residents.
Invest in the innovative future of our economy: Vermont needs to provide recovery support to businesses today and also seed longer-term economic renewal.
The report captures impacts that Covid-19 has had on the state and some of the fundamental challenges long faced by Vermonters that have been highlighted and exacerbated by the crisis. The convenings and the final report also collect and share inspiring and effective strategies for response and recovery. Throughout the state, community leaders and volunteers came together to support food system resilience and access, identify strategies to boost business and the economy, use art and outdoor recreation to revitalize and build community connection, support education and childcare, coordinate to meet essential needs, and leverage community-based organizations to provide support. See a detailed list of recovery strategies at vtrural.org.
“Overwhelmingly, in forums throughout the state, Vermonters called for change,” said Action Team leader Paul Costello, “for seizing this day, for standing together for social justice and economic opportunity, for doing all that is in our power today to respond to the Covid crisis, but also to thinking ahead, and working together toward community and economic renewal in a strong Vermont future.”
Members of the Action Team have deeply appreciated the opportunity to serve those stepping up to advance action and build recovery solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Action Team thanks Governor Scott for his ongoing leadership, and for recognizing the critical leadership of Vermonters throughout the state who are partners in the weaving together of response and recovery efforts. The Team’s report recognizes that full recovery will rely on our ability to move beyond the public health crisis, which is ongoing. There is much work to be done to answer the challenges of today, but what the Action Team saw repeatedly across the state is that Vermonters are galvanized to take action and work together toward a vital and resilient future.