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Mayors Roundtable, hosted by R.J. Berry (short)

R.J. Berry: Welcome everybody to the inaugural Kauffman Mayors Council Virtual Roundtable. Our topic today is rebuilding better lessons in leadership for cities in the age of COVID-19. We’d like you to set the stage of what the COVID pandemic economically and for entrepreneurs and small businesses has meant for your city in particular.

Mayor Randall Woodfin: The main thing is the commitment. As an administration, you have to have a commitment to Main Street, to your small business owners, to those who want to take risks and become small business owners if your community is going to be successful.

Mayor Nan Whaley: I agree with Mayor Woodfin.  I think we’re in a really special moment here and it’s really up to us and up to our communities, if we’re going to see real difference here. But it’s certainly something I’ve never experienced or felt in my lifetime.

Mayor David Holt: From a big picture view, we’ve tried to build a community for entrepreneurs where they want to live and where they want to work. And that for us, was about creating a quality of life that would attract young professionals. Now with what the awakening that we’re having in our country after the murder of George Floyd, I think we’re going to have a lot more conversations about, how do we extend these opportunities and lift up all communities? We haven’t been as focused on how do we lift up people, maybe in our own communities that already live here, who are people of color, who haven’t had those opportunities?

Mayor Steve Adler: From where I sit, I think for me that the cities that will be doing well three years from now, four years from now, eight years from now, are going to be the cities that embrace change, that embrace this as the opportunity to do significantly different, to take advantage of the moment, to be able to look at themselves and do things differently. But I also recognize that, that change only happens at the speed of trust, and the communities that are able to maintain that level of general trust in their institutions, and in their leaders, and in their systems, are going to be the ones that are able to succeed on that kind of an agenda.

R.J. Berry: Let me just end by saying, for myself and my family, every day as a mayor was a blessing. It’s probably the greatest job in American politics, and some would argue. But really, cities are where things get done. It’s where innovation happens fastest. It’s where the mayor sees folks at the grocery store, at church, on main street every day.