Liz Brown

City Councilmember

Columbus, OH

Elizabeth Brown was elected in November of 2015 to Columbus City Council. Brown has prior experience in economic development, nonprofit service, and state government.

Councilmember Brown’s focus on council is to fight for broad-based economic prosperity that addresses both business growth and poverty reduction. As chair of the economic development committee, Councilmember Brown has pushed for the city to add a wage floor for jobs incentives of $15 per hour and has commissioned a comprehensive study of the city’s tax incentive policies that will calibrate our economic incentives with the realities of the region’s economy and market. As chair of the education committee, Councilmember Brown passed targeted scholarships for pre-K teachers to help expand access to high-quality programs in neighborhoods that lack this critical infrastructure.

Other initiatives of Councilmember Brown aim to strengthen women and families. In response to a spike in vandalism and police calls to reproductive health clinics, she passed a law to prevent harassment of workers and patients. Councilmember Brown also negotiated the implementation of a paid family leave policy for city employees – the first of its kind in the Midwest and the third nationally. And currently, Councilmember Brown is also working to keep immigrant and refugee families together by putting together a fund to address the increased need for legal services.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared

Problem

Columbus has a generally low unemployment rate, hovering right around four percent. But in some neighborhoods, unemployment rates exceeds 20 percent. Neighborhoods that are persistently underemployed often struggle with resulting symptoms of poverty. Many unemployed residents are employable but overlooked due to having served time in prison, and the City of Columbus's retraining program for restored citizens and other reentry programs report that their largest limiting factor is the lack of available jobs to plug into. This shows us we can't solve the problem without private sector engagement. 

Solution

To encourage the private sector's investment in more job opportunities for a set of residents with a lot to give, we have added the hiring of disadvantaged workers, such as restored citizens, to the factors considered during the pre-qualification process for companies who bid on city construction contracts. Advancing opportunities for those who otherwise struggle to find a job is a win-win proposition: It helps businesses tap into an available talent pool, and it helps more residents support their families and build up our neighborhoods.