The start of a new year often brings with renewed commitments and dedication to our family, our friends, ourselves, and our community. Yet as 2022 begins, we continue to be reminded about the many ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and amplified trends and conditions already underway in our region and brought about transformational changes that will permanently shift old ways of living and working in both the East Bay and beyond.
The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding systemic economic and health disparities in the region, particularly along racial, ethnic, and gender lines. These disparities manifested in many ways, particularly around employment income and job stability, financial well-being, worker health and safety, and myriad other ways. And as we enter the third year of the pandemic, we are also still trying to fully assess and understand how COVID-19 will continue to shape our region’s economy over time.
In September 2021, East Bay EDA released East Bay Forward, an analysis of the pandemic’s impacts on the East Bay as we began to see the aforementioned conditions and impacts play out among business owners and households across our region. As a longstanding, cross-sector organization that convenes diverse networks of businesses, local government, and community-based organizations, East Bay EDA believes that this moment is a critical one for us to bring together different networks to align efforts and strategies that will move the needle toward a more equitable economic future.
The twelve priorities identified in East Bay Forward were developed with the input of various regional leaders following ample analysis of both long-term and recent East Bay data and trends, including multiple rounds of focused conversations with people from our Strategic Advisory Committee. The priorities that emerged from this process have been deemed essential to enabling our region to better coordinate and mobilize regional assets and resources, as well as to be better prepared for future opportunities and challenges.
As conditions in our communities continue to change and evolve, East Bay EDA is committed to working with leaders across the East Bay and beyond to ensure that equity begins to center our work to try and surmount our region’s pressing and rapidly widening economic and social divides. Similar to how we must confront the endemic of racism and other systemic barriers, we also must continue to come together to combat the challenges of our past and work to create a future that is more equitable, resilient, and sustainable for our region and its diverse and incredible people.