NACo President Larry Johnson addresses members at the 2021 Annual Conference in Prince George’s County, Md. Photo by Hugh ClarkeAfter battling the pandemic on the front lines for nearly two years, NACo President Larry Johnson sees counties as the leaders of the national economic and social growth and prosperity.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of counties across the nation, America did not allow COVID-19 to break us.
All across the country, counties provided meals to the hungry, helped small businesses that were struggling, provided vital care, testing and vaccinations and kept the focus on our residents, doing our best to protect their health and our communities.
Now, as we edge closer to the end of the pandemic, our goal is not just to survive, but to THRIVE. Just as how it’s been in counties’ DNA to do the things crucial to battling COVID-19, counties are now set up to not just get back to where we were, but to excel and build the foundation for a prosperous future.
With the vital assistance from the federal government in the American Rescue Plan, which delivered shares of $65.1 billion directly to counties of every size, and the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which will help protect and modernize our infrastructure, counties are being equipped with the resources that we need to succeed.
Counties will do that by focusing on six areas that fortify what we do and allow us to best serve our residents:
- Technology – equipping counties to expand broadband access to ensure all residents can learn, do business and communicate effectively
- Health – improving our overall health and well-being
- Readiness – preparing the county workforce to gain the skills they need
- Infrastructure – strengthening resilience and the backbone of our communities
- Vulnerable communities – advancing equity, strengthening the safety net and ensuring that our residents have the help they need
- Economic opportunities – creating conditions for all of us to compete in the 21st century economy.
That is how we will THRIVE.
This is happening in each of the 3,069 counties across the nation, and I’m seeing that firsthand as I travel the country as your NACo president. I’m seeing it happen at home in DeKalb County, Ga., I’m seeing it in the rural counties of southern Utah. I’m hearing it at state association conferences, the Rural Action Caucus and Western Interstate region. But it’s important for everyone to hear what I hear.
NACo’s Untold Stories campaign is a way to highlight what your county has done to move out of the pandemic and into a prosperous future, and sharing your story is the best way to guide and inspire other counties.
Congress has made historic investments in our nation’s counties, and it’s up to us to show our representatives that it was a good deal for everyone. It is a chance for more people to see what we already know: That counties are leaders in safeguarding our residents and building a nation positioned for the future.
You can view NACo’s Untold Stories resources at www.naco.org/UntoldStories.
This is an opportunity to showcase and highlight your tenacity, your innovation, your partnerships and the responsibilities that you have accomplished with this federal aid.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, counties have been central to America’s resiliency in the face of an uncertain world. We’re coming out of survival mode. It’s time to thrive.