U.S. Communities: Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery

with Kathy Maness of the National League of Cities

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all communities nationwide, generating financial ripples at all levels.

Kathy Maness, President of the National League of Cities, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss how local communities and their leaders are working to respond, recover, and rebuild from the pandemic.

Posted on:

October 1, 2021

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: America's cities, towns, and villages are far more than where we live. They're the heartbeat of our nation, and our country is hurting due to the widespread effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on America's communities. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. COVID-19 continues to impact all communities regardless of location and size, and also has a financial ripple effect at all levels. Joining me to talk about all of this is Kathy Maness, president of the National League of Cities. And, Kathy, thanks for being here.

Maness: Thank you so much for having me.

Anderson: So, your organization noticed pretty early on that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to really have a dramatic effect, and I'm wondering how you knew that. What signaled you so early that this was going to be a real issue?

Maness: Yeah. Well, we actually had been at a meeting in Washington where we brought cities, towns, and villages across America together, right as the pandemic was beginning. And when we left, we knew that our cities, towns, and villages would need help. We didn't know what was going to happen, but we knew that NLC needed to be there to help our cities, towns, and villages as we began going through this pandemic.

Anderson: And just about everyone faced some kind of shortfall because of COVID-19. And I'm wondering from your view and the communities that you serve, was this about a revenue loss? Was this about the dramatic disruption to operations in general? Was it a combination?

Maness: Well, it was a combination. you know, many of our restaurants and tourism here in South Carolina and across America that have been shut down. And that is a big source of revenue for us here in the town of Lexington with the accommodations tax money, with the hospitality tax money. Revenues were not coming in. Cities and towns were having to lay off municipal workers. That was a problem. So it was just a big problem for our cities and towns, and it was all new to us, and thank heavens NLC stepped in to help our cities and towns. We had webinars like every Friday, information posted on our website, just a lot of help that we were receiving from the National League of Cities as we as local leaders were working in our communities to help our citizens with this pandemic.

Anderson: And I know that your Essential Cities campaign was pretty much the linchpin in helping to secure that $65 billion as part of the American Rescue Plan that became that direct aid to these cities, towns, villages, and other places. And you guys have a pretty robust strategy when it comes to helping these communities actually use this money. It centers around the three Rs, and I'm wondering if you can explain to us what that is and how it works.

Maness: Right. So, during my presidential platform, we have chosen to use the three Rs -- Response, Recover, and Rebuild -- because that's what our cities are doing throughout the United States as we responded to the pandemic, a way of keeping our cities and towns safe. As we began the recovery process, the federal money needed to support our local cities and towns that NLC, along with other partners, worked very hard to secure. And now as we rebuild to make our communities stronger and better than ever. But I'd like to add another R to that, and that's Relationships. That's the relationship that the National League of Cities, along with the US Conference of Mayors, the NACO, other national organizations have with the White House and with our Congress to tell the story about what's happening in America with this pandemic. NLC is working hard to make sure that our cities, towns, and villages know how to use the money, how to use it correctly. And there are a lot of resources out there that we provide to our cities, towns, and villages across America.

Anderson: COVID variants have already caused worry about the need for added health measures. There's been a shake up in the stock market, and I'm wondering what the National League of Cities is thinking about all this. Are there lessons learned that can be applied if needed to stimulate the economy again?

Maness: Well, we have learned a lot of lessons through this, and we've done a lot of advocacy on behalf of our members. We held webinars. There's information on our COVID-19 web page. There's a lot of information that we have learned that will help our cities, towns, and villages across America as we go through -- so, hoping to be the end of COVID-19. But we've learned a lot. We've got the resources there. Our staff has wonderful technical support that they can provide to help us get through this.

Anderson: And, Kathy, if people want to know more about the National League of Cities, what's the website? Where can they go?

Maness: They can go to https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.NLC.org__;!!CQl3mcHX2A!Ua9jKfRtOSJaTmTxi07viXNmqq7GDrVXSQOwE2fgJJWbvFytinopYqUApx59uoy8lLwZ$ . Again, there is a dedicated page for COVID-19, so I hope they'll take a look at that to provide a lot of information to them.

Anderson: Kathy Maness with the National League of Cities, thank you so much for being here.

Maness: Thank you.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, log on to ComcastNewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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