AUSTIN- On Friday, July 17, the Texas Association of Business (TAB), Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC), Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives (TCCE), North Texas Commission (NTC), and a growing list of Texas economic development stakeholders launched the Texas Return to Work Initiative, a direct response to meet employer and employee needs during the COVID-19 crisis.


The effort includes a new open-source employer resource guide and a first-of-its-kind series of statewide employer surveys to foster a common understanding of the impact COVID-19 is having on business and the Texas economy.


"Texas employers and employees are hurting but prepared to lead the way through this pandemic," said Bob Cartwright, Chair of the TAB Return to Work Taskforce, past Chairman of TAB, and President and CEO of Intelligent Compensation. "Public and private stakeholders are asking for a deeper understanding of available resources and deeper data to help navigate the crisis.


This is a call to action to all Texas business owners, trade associations, chambers of Commerce, workforce development organizations, business media, academia, and other engines of the Texas economy to join us by encouraging Texas employers to participate in this process. Our goal is to listen carefully, analyze quickly, and share broadly."


Supported by non-profit USTomorrow and its partners Polco (a digital research and engagement platform) and National Research Center, the initiative is a first step toward providing public officials, business and community leaders, and the general public a current, cohesive view of the rapidly developing pandemic’s impact on the Texas economy.


Carlton Schwab, President and CEO of TEDC said, "Texas economic developers are on the front line of recovery and seeing different problems - and solutions - around the state. The Texas Return To Work Initiative will help establish a common perspective of the overall landscape, assess and leverage available resources, and develop effective and sustained response to local, regional, and statewide challenges."


"Chambers of Commerce across the state remain an important conduit between businesses and local communities. Many are now also serving as solutions laboratories for economic triage and recovery," said Cindy DeWease, TCCE Board Chair and President and CEO of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. "Increased awareness of what’s working throughout the state will help Texas chambers strengthen efforts in our communities."


Chris Wallace, President and CEO of NTC, said, "There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this crisis. Gaining a deeper understanding of regional challenges will reveal new pathways to effective recovery efforts across Texas."


"To support Texans’ interest in moving beyond this crisis," said Joseph Kopser, co-founder and chair of USTomorrow, "we need tools that drown out the white noise and allow us to clearly hear the voices of Texas business and the communities they support."


"The Texas Return to Work Initiative will allow Texas to spearhead a much-needed national and international playbook on the crisis," said Michelle Kobayashi, SVP of National Research Center. "The scale and scope of Texas business around the country and the world will allow us to compare and contrast challenges and successes from Main Street, Texas to communities far beyond our borders."


Links to the survey and the TAB Return to Work Resource Guide can be found here:


returntoworktx.org


The resource guide is open source and will be updated periodically with audience recommendations. Initial survey results will be published in August with a full report and next steps announced later this summer.