Safe campus and safe community

Communitywide initiative underway supporting SDSU’s return to campus

two female students walking downtown Brookings

A coalition of organizations and businesses, together with the city of Brookings, have formed the Brookings Resiliency Collaborative to assist the university with their plan for resuming on-campus operations in August.

SDSU’s JacksRBack task force has established several guiding principles and general guidelines and is developing detailed plans for a safe return for students, faculty and staff. A vital component of that process is coordinating efforts with the Brookings community to provide a safe environment for both residents and students.

“We created the Brookings Resiliency Collaborative to make sure we are doing everything we can for a successful and safe return of SDSU activity in the community,” said Al Heuton, executive director for Brookings Economic Development Corporation. “All of the organizations involved recognize that the university’s contribution to the Brookings area is enormous in terms of economic impact and quality of life, and when SDSU is not in session, we suffer a tremendous loss.”

SDSU is the county’s largest employer with more than 3,300 employees in Brookings, creating an estimated employment-based impact of nearly $200 million per year. Each year, over 10,000 students move to the community, supporting the housing, retail and dining industries. The multitude of sporting, cultural and educational events at SDSU bring thousands of visitors to Brookings and provide an abundance of opportunities for residents.

The Brookings Resiliency Collaborative identifies seven segments that can impact a successful return of SDSU activity, including: Health & Safety; Jobs, Employment & Internships; Safe Business Practices; Housing; Food Security; Economic Activity; and Messaging & Communication. Heuton is spearheading conversations with key individuals and organizations representing each segment to gather input about preparation plans and potential challenges, identify collaboration opportunities and coordinate implementation of processes.

A major component of the plan will be ongoing communication with both SDSU and the Brookings community, including several virtual campus/community forums organized by the Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Brookings city officials and leaders from SDSU.

“These forums are designed to answer questions and provide updates about plans and processes being implemented pertaining to SDSU operations and throughout the city,” said Kelsey Doom, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “Our goal is to share information, address any concerns and reassure residents and SDSU families that we are committed to ensuring their health and safety.”

Other projects underway as part of the collaborative include a safety program addressing practices within the business community, ongoing communication about updated COVID-19 guidelines and toolkits for businesses.

“The town and gown relationship in Brookings is more crucial now than ever before as we deal with our new normal,” said Daniel Scholl, SDSU’s vice president for research and economic development and the community liaison on the JacksRBack task force. “We are so fortunate to have community partners that recognize the importance of working together and coordinating efforts to support SDSU and help promote our JacksRBack initiative.”

Learn more about the Brookings Resiliency Collaborative and the economic impact of COVID-19 on the region. For more information about the JacksRBack plan, visit this page.