The RESTORE initiative was launched to identify policies that will help Georgia recover quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic.
What new or modified policies will help Georgia recover quickly from the crippling COVID-19 pandemic? To help answer this and many more questions, in March, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) launched its RESTORE initiative. MAC recruited John Rice, Chairman of GE Gas Power, to lead the effort. In addition, MAC secured 50 accomplished leaders for RESTORE including retired CEOs, current C-level leaders, Fortune 1000 board members, college and university presidents, next-generation executives and several past MAC board chairs.
In total, over 120 recommendations were collected and vetted. Several of RESTORE’s policy recommendations were passed by the Georgia General Assembly in June and have been signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp. Some recommendations were adopted by state agencies, and many others are under consideration. Notably, Senate Bill 359, which provides greater legal protections for businesses against COVID-19 related claims, was signed into law by Gov. Kemp on Wednesday, August 5.
“I want to thank the Metro Atlanta Chamber, John Rice, and all the leaders who worked diligently on the RESTORE initiative,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Several of their ideas are already helping to spur job creation and economic growth in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Together, we will weather this storm and build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous future for all hardworking Georgians.”
John Rice believes the work was important and timely, noting “the RESTORE initiative began months ago with the goal of identifying policy ideas to help our economy recover amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I am very proud that the work we did will pay dividends. Many thanks to the business and civic leaders who stepped up, notably the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). MAC and BCG staff pursued our ideas vigorously and will continue to do so as the pandemic evolves.”
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) provided pro bono support to RESTORE, which conducted more than 50 in-depth interviews with business and civic leaders. RESTORE also collected and analyzed survey data from across Georgia. Using this data, the group developed policy recommendations for a fiscally responsible and achievable recovery that accounts for our most vulnerable populations. After conducting economic analyses and vetting the ideas, RESTORE finalized 18 federal and 22 state recommendations for immediate pursuit, as well as others for longer-term consideration.
“Considering what I’ve learned from the 2008 recession and our current priorities around addressing the public health crisis and restoring the region’s economy, I’m very proud of how our members have stepped up to help through RESTORE,” said Katie Kirkpatrick, MAC President and CEO. “Thanks to their willingness to meet challenges head on and their thoughtful consideration of the many ideas curated through this initiative, several policies have already been implemented. And we have an arsenal of resources available to address the other policies we plan to pursue.”
A key takeaway from RESTORE is the necessity for consumers and employees to feel safe. Therefore, the team stood up a coalition between businesses and the state of Georgia with the goal of improving health outcomes and sharing data, messaging and best practices. This work is ongoing.