In addition to working on innovation in our mobility, smart cities and energy sector, I am also working diligently to make government and public service more responsive to the needs of everyday people. In response, I co-founded USTomorrow last year. Today, I sent out a newsletter explaining the impact COVID has had on our government. I am reprinting the newsletter below:
“Good timing” is a phrase we don’t seem to hear much any more. And certainly not in the context of the pandemic, the economy, or our politics. Response seems removed, unconnected to what we see before us. Reactions are slow, loaded with implication beyond the straightforward response and nimbleness that safety, science, and human empathy have effectively delivered to meet past instances of natural disaster or national security.
When USTomorrow was conceived, the goal was to provide a platform for communities to work together on the “more in common” issues of critical local importance – Main Street economies, workforce, education – that modern, flashpoint politics were leaving behind, or worse, in danger of being redrawn as community dividing lines by hyper-partisan strategists. The strategy was to provide non-partisan data to reinforce fact-based decision making and nimble community response to shared challenges.
We assembled partners and platforms to deliver new data to local business and community stakeholders to deliver a fresh, non-partisan perspective of common ground. We traveled Texas, crossing economic divides, urban and rural splits, and red and blue dog whistles, meeting stakeholders no longer connected to the process. We established a grassroots calendar that began on the ground and ended with a pre-election, bi-partisan recognition of common need and candidate agreement to make progress on community-established priorities.
The conversation would lead to raised expectations of public – not political – service and delivery and present campaigns and candidates the opportunity to take a tentative step across the aisle on behalf of ALL their constituents, not just the 50.1% majority or the loudest voice on hot-button issues.
COVID-19 had different plans.
As we began to reconcile our campaign-style endgame with the new virtual landscape, we realized that COVID had presented a single, unifying challenge that would severely impact micro and macro economies in unique ways. The pandemic itself had become our “more in common” core and the stakes were higher than ever.
So, while there’s nothing good about COVID, the timing allows us to put our work to work on one of the greatest challenges of our time. We convened our existing network to explore potential solutions and, next week, we look forward to a major announcement for USTomorrow, Texas, Texas business, and Texans everywhere.
The work has just begun.
Several weeks ago, USTomorrow introduced a series of survey tools to develop a shared perspective on pandemic response, providing American citizens, businesses, and public officials a path forward focused on progress not politics. These tools are now being used to benchmark analysis for a growing nationwide effort by public and private sector economic developers tasked with allocating federal, state, and local resources.
Later this year, we look forward to providing campaigns and candidates region-specific results to inform their constituent support and voter outreach.
This week’s highlights explore resident interest in reopening the economy and erring on the side of caution.
You can read this week’s report here. It’s about a 3 minute read.
Here’s an insight I found interesting but didn’t make it into this week’s highlights.
Thank you again for participating! Please take a few minutes to complete the follow up UST Resident Readiness 2 survey. This will keep the UST data current with the quickly evolving public/private response to this crisis.
Stay safe! Let me know how you’re doing.
Joseph Kopser is a serial entrepreneur and expert in energy and national security issues. Currently he serves as an Executive-in- Residence at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. In addition, he is President of Grayline after he co-founded and served as CEO of RideScout before it was acquired by Mercedes. He served in the U.S. Army for 20 years earning the Combat Action Badge, Army Ranger Tab and Bronze Star.
He is a graduate of West Point with a BS in Aerospace Engineering and also received a Masters from the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2013, he was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for his efforts in Energy and Transportation. In 2014, RideScout, won the U.S. DOT Data Innovation Award and co-authored the book, Catalyst. He is the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the CleanTX Foundation, an economic development and professional association for cleantech. Joseph is also co-founder of the non-profit USTomorrow focused on workforce readiness. Joseph’s focus is to help people adapt to the changing future of work.