In Time of Global Crisis, Private Sector Can Answer the Call

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Our world is facing a challenge like never before. The COVID-19 pandemic has spread into every corner of society, while governments and the global economy are struggling to keep up and prevent additional devastation.

It is in this vein that GM CEO Mary Barra has stepped up to offer the company’s resources and factories’ support in producing ventilators. Partnerships like this one are a huge and necessary step in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic, and GM is one of many businesses that has the capacity to support the American people and our government. As they been throughout history, the private sector is uniquely positioned to step up and provide necessary aid during the country’s time of need. And we need their help if we are to have any hope of succeeding.

It is crucial that the federal government moves expeditiously in order to spur increased production, distribution, and access to medical equipment and products that right now, we are sorely lacking. But government processes are slowing us down. Luckily, there are a few companies on the frontlines that, because of their expertise, product lines, and global reach, are perfectly positioned to take on this challenge.

Right now, millions of Americans are forced to stay in their homes. This, combined with the harsh reality of empty grocery store shelves and painstakingly long lines, leaves people shopping for their essentials online. So naturally, online delivery giant Amazon has stepped in to help. The company recently announced that until April 5, they will only receive “vital supplies” at their U.S., UK and other European warehouses, in an effort to free up more inventory space. This proactive move on Amazon’s part will ensure that the American people are not left without the items they need most right now, such as medicine, groceries, and sanitizing supplies.

President Trump also raised the stakes this week when he referred to this pandemic as a war, and invoked the Defense Production Act. In wartime, we need private companies that understand the stakes and have the expertise to carry the country to victory. A company that is exceptionally prepared for this challenge is the newly merged company of Raytheon and United Technologies (UTC), which once the merger receives final approval, will be named Raytheon Technologies. With Raytheon’s defense prowess and UTC’s advanced transport systems, like their subsidiary that provides temperature-sensitive medical transport services, the combined company is in the unique position to serve as a vital government partner. This merger, which was just approved by the European Commission and is set to close later this Spring, may come just in time and prove to be a game-changer. And given that both companies already have strong existing relationships with the government, no other entity is better positioned to support the American people in a time of war.

Another company on the frontlines of this crisis is 3M, who produces the N95 face masks, which, as the most common type of face mask, have been in unsurprisingly high demand since the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak. In response to this demand, Vice President and Head of the Coronavirus Task Force, Mike Pence announced that the government contracted with 3M for the production of 35 million face masks per month, to ensure their products remain in hospitals and on shelves. As part of the CDC guidelines to virus protection, these masks must remain readily available for the American people, so I applaud 3M in taking strides to safeguard their production. 

Governmental red tape and bureaucratic processes are not only inconvenient, but at a time like this, with the whole world burdened with uncertainty and panic, they can make a difference between life and death. That is where we need companies like GM, Amazon, Raytheon Technologies, and 3M to come in.

There is no doubt about it – the American people are in a time of desperate need, and quick, decisive action needs to be taken, and these companies are uniquely positioned to react accordingly. Whether it is production changes, supply adjustments or decisions that allow for companies to innovate and bring a massive amount of resources and solutions to bare, the private sector is primed to answer the call.

Chris Garcia is a former Deputy Director at the U.S. Commerce Department and head of the Minority Business Development Agency under President Trump.

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