California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s seven-month-old Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery is disbanding as the coronavirus pandemic reaches a second peak, but his co-chairs predict the state will have a strong economic turnaround once the pandemic is past.
Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer, one of the co-chairs, said in a phone interview with CNBC that priorities going forward include bridging the digital divide, “where we have a number of specific proposals,” and supporting small businesses, which make up half of the employment in California.
Newsom convened the task force in April with more than 100 political and business titans including former Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger resigned from the task force in October two days after Disney announced 28,000 layoffs at its U.S. parks.
Up until now, the task force has been working largely behind the scenes, meeting every other week on Zoom video calls.
Steyer and Ann O’Leary, co-chair and also Newsom’s chief of staff, said it was a delicate balance meeting with business leaders to talk about coronavirus control, while some were also laying off thousands of their own employees.
“The businesspeople felt enormous responsibilities to their employees and to their shareholders,” Steyer said. “And that’s absolutely normal, but we supported the governor in his determination that health and safety of Californians had to come first. The best and strongest recovery would come if the coronavirus was under control.”…