Calls to action from George Floyd and COVID-19

By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hit lower income workers, students, and households while the George Floyd protests and unrest magnify social and racial injustices.

Those were two takeaways and calls for action from John Graham, a one of Arizona’s top business leaders.

Graham, who is chairman and CEO of real estate development firm Sunbelt Holdings, Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord and Harry Lourimore, division president of Mattamy Homes, talked about the economy reopening after COVID-19, the George Floyd protests, the real estate market and economic development during Rose Law Group’s New Economy (Virtual) Power Lunch Friday.

“It disproportionately hit the disadvantaged,” Graham said of COVID-19 and its impacts on jobs and the economy.

He points to lower income students having lower rates of internet access and computer at home for learning while schools were closed.

A large chunk of the more than 40 million jobs lost were also lower-wage workers in sectors such as retail, restaurants, hotels, and services.

As many as 1.2 million jobs are vulnerable to the pandemic regionally, according to a recent report by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Arizona State University. Seventy six percent of those are in jobs that pay below $40,000 per year.

Graham said societal disparities were  also “compounded dramatically by the George Floyd incident.”

Graham, who is active economic development groups, said the situation offers an opportunity to address inequities.

“My hope is that Mr. Floyd doesn’t die in vain and something good will come,” Graham said.

“It’s both social and economic,” Graham told the Rose Law Group virtual forum. “And that’s two things to work on at the same time.”

Goodyear Mayor Lord said the issues arising from George Floyd need to remain at the forefront and not be put in the background after the current situations across the country ease. Lord said communities need to acknowledge past and present problems and misdeeds.

Lourimore said there are opportunities for more empathy and community focused solutions and cooperation including coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.