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Knoxville, 'Big 4' Tennessee mayors unite to create task force to reopen the economy

Tennessee's 'Big 4' cities are planning together on how to restore business activity suspended by COVID-19.

The mayors of Tennessee largest metropolitan areas announced they are working together to form a task force to plan and coordinate how to reopen the economy. 

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon will be working with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, and Chattanooga Mayor Anthony Berke to form the Tennessee Major Metros Economic Restart Task Force. 

The task force's goal is to coordinate the restoration of business activity that's currently suspended due to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The task force will be compromised of business leaders and health care professionals appointed jointly by each metro area's city and county mayors. 

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, and Hamilton Mayor Jim Coppinger were in charge of vetting and agreeing upon task force appointees.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has begun the process to reopen the economy in phases, and the task force intends to link communities together to coordinate this response. City leaders said the governor has maintained contact with the 'Big 4' to discuss protocols for eventually lifting restrictions on non-essential business from several executive orders issued by the governor and mayors.

RELATED: Gov. Lee extends Stay at Home order through April 30, announces plan to reopen Tennessee economy in phases, starting May

“Thanks to the cooperation of our residents, we have seen success in ‘flattening the curve’ in our communities, but we know that our economies cannot remain closed indefinitely," Kincannon said. "The members of this Task Force will help us implement responsible, data-driven strategies to protect the public and ensure that our partners in the business community can operate safely."

The task force will be staffed by the Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Mayors of each mayor. Meetings begin next week, and they said they will publicly announce their initial discussions, findings, and action steps next week.

Representing Knoxville on the task force are Kathy Brown, director of the Master of Public Health program at the University of Tennessee, Dave Miller, president of First Horizon Bank's East Tennessee region, Mike Odom, President and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, and Ryan Steffy, general manager of SoKno Taco.

RELATED: "We all want to get back to normal" | Knox County businesses hopeful & hesitant about phased reopening proposal

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