Getting small businesses running and fully staffed is an immediate goal of the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s Economic Impact and Recovery Plan.
View the online version at: https://covid-fnsb.hub.arcgis.com/
The plan has ramped up fast in the last month by the borough’s economic commission, which wants the public to comment on it now. The commission meets to approve the plan next Tuesday, May 5th. It looks at indicators like sales and taxes as economic recovery, but there are a lot of ways to measure success.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed up the release of the economic recovery plan because the quarantine forced so many businesses to close and people to stop working. And while the borough has always had a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, or CEDS, it hasn’t had to consider this unprecedented landscape. So the goals have shifted more toward health, and more toward now.
Borough Mayor Bryce Ward chairs the economic commission.
“What does recovery look like post-COVID? The standards that are post-COVID, are those the standards that we want to have long-term?”
The commission identified four sectors in the community. Residents, Businesses, Health Care and the Workforce.
And the way you define success? For the Residents sector, the plan counts how many boxes go out of the Food Bank, how many homes are sold, what is the average rent, and the cost of consumer goods? Recovery for Businesses can be measured in taxes and commercial loans. Recovery for the Healthcare sector in how many COVID-19 cases are tested and recovered. And in the Workforce, the plan can measure Unemployment and wages.
And what about recovery standards we can’t measure?
“The commission has had some interesting conversations on Quality of Life, using other indicators such as access to health care, or access to other services – how that has a greater impact on the overall economic well-being of the community.”
The plan takes the tasks identified for the four groups, and breaks them into a timeline for immediate, short-term, mid-term and long-term priorities.
“The immediate tasks, these are things that we want to have achieved in the next 1-2 weeks. And we recognize that with some of these efforts, that if they are not done in a timely fashion, we may lose out as a community on resources that are available on the state and federal level.”
There are lists of economic strategies in the plan addressed to the different community sectors. The generic suggestion to “promote entrepreneurship” in the “business” section of the plan is not nearly as as specific as “collect and analyze data to understand demographic, behavioral, and buying habit changes after COVID-19,” in the “residents” section of the plan.
The commission is looking for comment on the Recovery Plan this weekend. The short document is on the borough’s website under “Boards and Commissions.”
The link to a PDF of the plan is: http://www.fnsb.us/Boards/Documents/FSNB_Economic_Recovery_Plan.pdf or view the online version at: https://covid-fnsb.hub.arcgis.com/. Public comments can submitted through the "Written Testimony" form below or through the survey at the end of the online version of the plan. Comments can also be submitted by emailing EDC@fnsb.us.