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Texas Policy Experts Offer Playbook for Post-Pandemic Recovery

COVID-19 Could Spur Innovations in Economic Development, Health Care, Other Services

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AUSTIN, Texas — As state leaders begin to restart the Texas economy, policy experts from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin and the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston have issued a nine-point playbook with their vision for rebuilding a more equitable and inclusive future Texas.

The report, “A Playbook for Resiliency: Creating Opportunity for All Texans,” co-authored by Kirk Watson, founding dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs, and Steven Pedigo, professor of practice and director of the LBJ School’s Urban Lab, calls for state and local leaders to evaluate past policies and unequal growth.

“We have to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that, going forward, our state is more resilient than it’s ever been,” said Watson, a former state senator who serves on Gov. Greg Abbott’s Strike Force to Open Texas.  “How we approach the challenge of recovery from the pandemic will define Texas going forward and whether it is stronger and better prepared for the future.”

The report notes that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to reshape the state’s approach to critical services ranging from health care and education to economic development for both urban and rural communities. In their view, it will also require Texas to discard the zero-sum approach that pits jurisdictions, regions and economic sectors against one other as it makes investments in economic, workforce and community development.

“Even in a downturn, Texas cannot afford to turn away from investment at this crucial time,” said Pedigo, an economic development strategist who has advised communities across the world. “As important and urgent as it to reopen Texas, our ultimate challenge is to make our state stronger and more prosperous in the future. That starts with investing in polices and plans that put Texans first.”

The playbook outlines detailed steps related to expanding local and state government cooperation, ensuring support for small businesses and job creation, leveraging health care investment for economic development and promoting rural communities as centers for entrepreneurship, among other suggestions.

“Achieving the report’s bold goals will be challenging,” said Angela Evans, dean of the LBJ School. “But this innovative playbook from the LBJ Urban Lab and the Hobby School affords all of us – policymakers, business leaders and universities – strategies for achieving a bright future that celebrates Texas’ creativity,  scales our innovations and addresses our community vulnerabilities.”

The complete playbook with the authors’ suggestions can be found online at