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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - August 16, 2021

USCM Annual Meeting in Austin No Longer Taking Place in Person

Washington Update

USCM Austin Meeting

After careful consideration of the question as to whether or not the 89th Annual Meeting would take place in Austin, Texas from August 31 to September 4, the Executive Committee of The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) has decided that the Conference will not move forward in-person as originally planned. This was a tough decision for all – especially for Austin Mayor Steve Adler and the entire City of Austin team who have worked so hard to make the meeting the success it would have been.

As such, the USCM Workforce Development Council (WDC) Annual Meeting will also not be taking place in Austin, TX, in person on September 1-2, 2021. We express our disappointment to all WDC members, over 50 of whom were registered to attend. There may be some virtual aspects of the USCM Annual Meeting still planned in the next few weeks and we will keep you informed as we go forward and what that means for the USCM WDC Board and Annual Meeting. WDC staff will be working with WDC Executive Leadership to determine next steps in this regard. USCM is currently processing refunds to individuals who have already registered and paid for the meeting and all hotel reservations have been canceled.

Please note, as of now the planned USCM WDC pre-conference session on August 31, 2021, has not yet been canceled and will also be part of the discussion with USCM WDC Executive Leadership.

Overall, the Executive Committee decided that the data surrounding the new Delta Variant COVID-19 virus, plus the surge in recent weeks, continues to present a very real health crisis. USCM took the position that the nation’s mayors must themselves do what they are asking others to do during this new public health challenge. While Conference leadership worked to have the strongest possible health protocols in place, there were still challenges for mayors and other city officials in leaving their cities as the new Delta variant of COVID-19 surged.

On Friday, August 13, USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, along with USCM President, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Host, Austin Mayor Steve Adler released the following statement:

“The Annual Meeting is the biggest event of the year for this organization, but nothing is more important right now than public health,” said USCM President and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “I am disappointed we won’t be able to gather in person this year to discuss the big challenges in this country, but I am immensely proud of the leadership that mayors everywhere are demonstrating. In particular, Austin Mayor Steve Adler continues to do everything he can to protect his city, and I applaud him for being the kind of leader that Texas needs right now. As we move forward and navigate these uncharted waters, the important work of the U.S. Conference of Mayors will continue.”

“It saddens me greatly that we will not be able to show off the great city of Austin to America’s mayors this year,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “The most important thing we can all do at this moment is make the right individual decisions to keep our communities safe, and this is the necessary one for this event in Austin. We face a real public health crisis here right now, but the spirit of Austin is strong and with everyone working together we can defeat this virus and keep our economy moving.”

“The nation’s mayors have been on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus from the start,” said USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, “and they continue to show the kind of leadership that is needed to end this pandemic. We had all been eager to gather in Austin to discuss important matters facing American cities, but I’m proud of the mayors for doing the right thing. A lot of work went into planning a safe meeting, and even though it will not happen as planned, we thank our mayors and private sector partners for staying with us and giving their continued support.”

The WDC staff continues to be extremely grateful to all of our members for your continued support through the pandemic and what is now the second wave of the COVID-19 virus that continues to threaten our health and economies. We greatly appreciate your patience as we near the dates originally scheduled for our WDC Board and Annual Meeting and will be in touch with further details in the coming weeks. Thank you.

STEM Talent Challenge

On Thursday, August 12, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) launched the $2 million STEM Talent Challenge to support programs to train science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent and fuel regional innovation economies across the nation. The challenge will provide funding for work-and-learn programs to increase America’s STEM-capable workforce in emerging and transformative sectors such as space commerce, aeronautics, digital manufacturing, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and cybersecurity.

Competition applicants may request up to $250,000 for the implementation of a 24-month workforce program that complements their region’s innovation economy. The deadline to apply is October 12, 2021.

Click here to access the one-pager to learn more.

Click here to access the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Click here to access the EDA website for more information.

Department of Education Nomination

On Tuesday, August 10, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Dr. Amy Loyd as Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Dr. Loyd was a vice president at Jobs for the Future where she designed and led programs across the United States that improve education and workforce outcomes. Her work at JFF focused on state and regional policies, practices, and cross-sector partnerships that engaged K-12 education, community colleges, adult education, workforce development, economic development, and employers to build systems of college and career pathways. She also oversaw JFF’s work in workforce development with a lens on economic advancement, state and federal policy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending August 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 375,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 385,000 to 387,000. The 4-week moving average was 396,250, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 394,000 to 394,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1 percent for the week ending July 31, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's revised rate.

Click here to access the full report.

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