LAWRENCE — The 2021 Kansas Economic Policy Conference, hosted annually and organized by the Institute for Policy & Social Research, will take place on October 21 at the University of Kansas. This year’s conference will focus on “COVID Recovery in Kansas: A Work in Progress”.
Although GDP growth has recovered from the sharp decline in 2020, the job market in Kansas and the United States continues to pose challenges for economic growth. In particular, mothers have left the workforce in large numbers to care for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many women have not returned to work and low-wage jobs remain unfilled. More information on the evolution of the pandemic in Kansas is available on the Institute for Social Policy and Research website.
The event will build on conversations held at the 2020 Kansas Economic Policy Conference, where speakers addressed the far-reaching effects of the pandemic. They also noted that in many cases, including the availability of childcare services and access to high-quality broadband, the pandemic has not created new issues, but rather raised awareness among more people with existing problems.
“The federal government has provided billions of dollars to state and local governments in Kansas. We hope this year’s conference will provide a lively discussion about how we can spend federal money in the state to create a resilient economy in Kansas,” said Donna Ginther, PRRO director and professor emeritus of economy Roy A. Roberts.
Ginther will give a keynote address on “The State of the Kansas State Economy and Economic Recovery.” The talk will then turn to “How Local Governments Are Moving Forward,” featuring a conversation with Trey Cocking, deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities; Janet McRae, Miami County Director of Economic Development; and Maury Thompson, Johnson County Assistant Manager.
Panelists will also discuss “Building a Resilient Kansas – Child Care, Housing and Broadband,” with Kelly Davydov, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Kansas; Shannon Oury, executive director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority; and Stanley Adams of the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Office of Broadband Development. Deb Miller, director of the KU Public Management Center, and Jim McLean, political correspondent for the Kansas News Service, will moderate these conversations.
After lunch, state policymakers will have the opportunity to share their policy insights to advance recovery and resilience. The panel will include:
- State Senator Dinah Sykes, Minority Leader, District 21, Lenexa
- State Senator Brenda Dietrich, District 20, Topeka
- State Representative Chris Croft, House District 8, Overland Park
- State Representative Susan Concannon, House District 107, Beloit
Ginther will offer remarks at the end of the conference.
One of the challenges of this year’s conference is that while economic recovery from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is underway, the pandemic is still ongoing in the United States and around the world. In-person attendees will need to adhere to KU’s policies on masking and social distancing.
Participants can join the conference in person or view the conference live. Registration for the conference is mandatory and is offered free of charge to participants. A grant from the Economic Development Administration with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act University Supplemental Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Award supports this event. Consult the complete program and register on the conference website. Participants can follow the conference on Twitter using #KEPC2021.
Picture: Effect of COVID-19 on unemployment in Kansas. Credit: KU Institute for Policy & Social Research.