Dirk Draper

Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC President and CEO Dirk Draper 

The Regional Recovery Council, formed in April 2020 to help businesses in Colorado Springs recover from the pandemic, has been honored by a national health organization for providing solutions that have helped the city navigate the ongoing public health crisis.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials recognized the council this month with "Honorable Mention status for the 2021 Innovative Service Award," according to a press release from the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

Spearheaded by Chamber President and CEO Dirk Draper and Susan Wheelan, director of El Paso County Public Health, the council is comprised of members of the Colorado Springs business community, municipal and workforce partners, and members of the nonprofit community.

Together, councilors have helped to create policy variances that enabled local retailers to provide curbside and online sales and restaurants to safely resume in-person dining. The council has also helped provide guidance to local high schools that allowed graduates to receive diplomas in-person, ahead of other Colorado communities, creating a model for other areas in the state.

The council convened for the first time within a week of El Paso County's first positive case in 2020 and will continue to meet while the pandemic remains an active threat to public health and economic growth.

Susan Wheelan

Susan Wheelan, director of El Paso County Public Health

"We are thrilled to receive this national recognition for the excellent collaboration among our community leaders," Draper said. "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."

As part of the recognition, the NACCHO will feature the Regional Recovery Council in its Innovative Practice Database for other local health departments to review and consider adopting.

“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," Wheelan said. "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.”