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In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is exceptional in a way no one wants to be. As I write this, we have the dubious distinction of hosting 31 percent of the world’s coronavirus cases and 25 percent of global deaths. We’ve also tested many more people than any other country, as well.
Bear in mind, Americans comprise just 4.25 percent of the world’s population.
We are being hit and hit hard by an unseen enemy doing deadly work in every corner of our nation.
One thing is certain. We will overcome this, and we will do it because America is exceptional in another way. When times are tough, we help each other.
How many stories have you heard recently of neighbors helping neighbors? Of heroic health care workers and first responders going beyond the call of duty? Of communities banding together to support hard-hit businesses?
When we emerge from this temporary lockdown – and we are starting to already – I believe this spirit will carry us forward. So, the question to be answered will not be “what just happened?” but “what do we do now?”
I am living proof that this is a land of opportunity. And the end of this moment in time will present us an opportunity to rebuild not just from corona-related challenges but with a view of the America we want for years to come.
The challenges of 2020 give us the opportunity to start now on the America of 2030.
What does that look like and how do we get there? Three words answer both questions: Opportunity. Jobs. Education.
Getting on our feet as a nation will take more than top-down giving from the government. It will take bottom-up investing that will create permanent jobs.
We’ve started already with the creation of Opportunity Zones, which I championed as part of the 2017 Tax Cut and Reform Act to provide tax incentives for businesses to invest in economically distressed communities.
There is so much human and market potential in these neighborhoods. I know. I’m from one. And post-COVID-19 there will be many more communities that qualify for Opportunity Zone investing.
Getting on our feet as a nation will take more than top-down giving from the government. It will take bottom-up investing that will create permanent jobs. We have learned the hard way that outsourcing our manufacturing infrastructure is not sustainable. What better place to rebuild it than in communities filled with hard-working people looking for a place to work?
As we think of America 2030, we must think of a nation returned to record employment fueled by businesses small and large, manufacturers that aren’t even here yet and entrepreneurs who see opportunities where others see obstacles.
As we progress, we must also help in another way by creating the opportunity for quality education for every child regardless of their zip code. Poverty is the leading indicator for a subpar education. As we rebuild our communities economically, we must see that education improves in stride.
Opportunity. Jobs. Education. This is the only way to create generational change for the better.
When people pull together and do things for others, not because there is a reward or benefit for themselves, then America becomes truly exceptional.
The opportunity is knocking. We just have to answer the door.