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Center for the Study of Free Enterprise to hold town hall series on post-pandemic recovery

The Center for the Study of Free Enterprise at Western Carolina University will hold a series of four town hall meetings on the impact of COVID-19 and recovery - social and economic – on the community, beginning May 19 and continuing through early June.

The series will unveil in-depth findings on region and state fiscal status, economic health and social ramifications during recovery from the pandemic. The series also will examine the public-private emphasis on a well-trained workforce, modern infrastructure with a strong, competitive tax structure that attracts jobs and investment.

“This town hall series is borne from the pandemic, to be sure, but will be primarily a guidepost for the future, how this university serves the community, and how people in our region can recover economically and socially,” said Edward Lopez, director of WCU’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise.

Among the scheduled speakers is Jackson Déziel, an assistant professor and director of WCU’s Emergency Medical Care Program. He will address how the pandemic affected first responders, emergency medical services technicians and paramedics, and the lessons that local officials and state regulators should take from a societal disruption.

Presentations will be given in virtual and in-person formats.

  • Helping the Community Helps Your Campus” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, a livestream event from the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Performance Hall on how two university centers in different settings (urban and rural) are assisting their communities. Led by WCU’s Lopez and Craig Richardson, director of the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston-Salem State University.
  • “Community, Policy and Covid: Cross-Disciplinary Research that Matters” in two sessions, 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, livestream from A.K. Hinds University Center.
  • Session 1: “State Policy and COVID-19 Economic Recovery” will publicly present findings from a study for the General Assembly, funded by a grant from UNC Policy Collaboratory, including analysis, crucial data and comparison with other Southern states.
  • Session 2: “COVID-19 and WCU’s Impact on Western North Carolina” will look at partnerships, the role of students, faculty and staff and the community for advancement of many facets of life in the region.
  • “Economic and Policy Analysis of Pandemic Issues” at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, Center for the Study of Free Enterprise researchers will conduct a special presentation to the broader community of scholars in a livestream through Institute for Humane Studies.

WCU’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise conducts scholarly research, policy analysis, educational endeavors and community outreach. It holds a regular guest speaker series, sponsors presentations, with an events calendar and public resources available at

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