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Regional Recovery Council receives national recognition for pandemic recovery program innovation

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) recognized the Regional Recovery Council with Honorable Mention status for the 2021 Innovative Practice Award. In its announcement last Friday, NACCHO cited the Regional Recovery Council’s high level of program innovation to meet the needs of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in April 2020, the Regional Recovery Council was formed to help businesses recover from the pandemic as quickly and safely as possible. The Regional Recovery Council is spearheaded by Dirk Draper, president & CEO of the Chamber & EDC, and Susan Wheelan, director of El Paso County Public Health. The Regional Recovery Council represents multiple sectors including economic development, health care, industry, tourism, education, county and municipal government, non-profit, philanthropy, and community development.

The Regional Recovery Council’s accomplishments include policy variances that enabled local retailers to make curbside and online sales, allowing restaurants to resume in-person dining service, and enabling high school graduates to receive diplomas at in-person graduation ceremonies – all ahead of other Colorado communities. The innovative approach to variances taken by this group quickly became a statewide model that other communities were eager to replicate.

“We are thrilled to receive this national recognition for the excellent collaboration among our community leaders. Our number one goal has been to help businesses reopen safely and stay open. We know that balancing public health and economic health is critical in recovery,” said Dirk Draper, president & CEO, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

“The collective insight and strategic input of the Regional Recovery Council’s non-traditional partnerships has been beneficial in helping our economy reopen as safely and quickly as possible. This national recognition of the Regional Recovery Council is a testament to the importance of cross-sector partnerships in optimizing community health, which is essential for a thriving economy. I look forward to the continued work to meet the needs of the community throughout the recovery process,” said Susan Wheelan, director of El Paso County Public Health.

As an Honorable Mention practice, the Regional Recovery Council application will be featured in NACCHO’s Innovative Practice Database for other local health departments to review and replicate.

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