Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson launched the "Dallas Forward" campaign Tuesday to help small and medium-size businesses recover from COVID-19 and revive the Dallas economy.
Johnson asked former Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President and CEO Richard Fisher to lead a task force on renewing the economy. Fisher recruited Beck Group CEO and Dallas Citizens Council Chairman Fed Perpall.
“There is no playbook for recovering from something like this,” Johnson said. “Thanks to this task force we have the beginning of a road map for the journey ahead.”
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Rain moved the planned rollout of the campaign from Klyde Warren Park to a lobby of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center where there was plenty of empty space. Conventions have all been canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Companies and their employees that rely on convention business are part of the economic problem.
Johnson said small to medium-size businesses employ half the workers in Dallas.
The Dallas Forward plan calls for support from big businesses to help small firms recover.
“We want our big corporate citizens who have means to put their shoulder to the wheel,” Fisher said.
Fisher cited big financial contributions by PepsiCo, including a commitment to provide $50 million to Black-owned businesses nationwide. Fisher said AT&T has committed to providing free internet access to Dallas ISD families.
Perpall said African American and Hispanic-owned businesses have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.
“Those amongst us who can least afford to carry the burden have been asked to carry the largest burden,” Perpall said.
Contributors are being asked to provide cash and personal protective equipment like masks, which large companies can purchase at a discount.
“We’re asking as many large companies out there to donate as much PPE as they can spare so that we can make this available to our small businesses,” Perpall said.
Johnson said he wants to see the Dallas economy return to the vibrant status it was in before coronavirus.
“And we will resume that again, but we can’t do that without getting the public health aspect of this under control,” Johnson said.
Antonia Carrillo, CEO of Dallas-based Arcosa, sees a benefit to the entire city in helping small businesses.
“Unless we help those small businesses recover and start growing, we can not get the Dallas economy to recover in a sustainable and inclusive way again,” he said.
For more information on Dallas Forward, click here.