City Expands Communications Through Townhall Platform
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Brownsville began hosting monthly town hall meetings accessible to all employees. These town halls allowed city management to keep staff up to date on the latest COVID-19 developments. Employees can engage and ask questions over email, text and WhatsApp.
Brownsville Activates First COVID-19 Drive-Thru Site in the RGV
We are proud to have taken a proactive and aggressive stance to curb COVID-19. The City of Brownsville established the website BTXcares.com to inform residents and provide resources to the community. This included information on the first city-led testing program in the Rio Grande Valley . To date, the City of Brownsville has helped thousands in the community to register for free COVID-19 testing and continues to provide testing resources.
United Against Hunger
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the City, United Way and Brownsville Wellness Coalition partnered to provide essentials to the community. Together these organizations launched United Against Hunger, a drive-thru food drive. In 2020, the United Against Hunger drives provided over 30,000 bags of food to families in need. This initiative also hired several furloughed workers to man the food drives created additional economic impacts to the community.
City Hosts Virtual Events
Throughout the pandemic the City also hosted a series of Brownsville Cares Talks to promote awareness of COVID-19 and prevention tips. In an effort to reach a wider audience, the City hosted a series of virtual concerts called Serenade with the City. Serenade with the City featured local bands and artists and included COVID-19 PSAs and new information. These concerts provided the community with an opportunity to interact with others outside their own home. Throughout the year, the City hosted several hybrid events to celebrate the holidays such as Rock the 4th, Calle Calaveras Outdoor Exhibit, Live Firework shows, and Drive-thru with Santa!
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Brownsville has strived to keep its residents informed and safe. It promptly created the Brownsville Cares website (btxcares.com) to provide up-to-date information and resources for our community. BTX Cares has helped more than 17,000 people register for free COVID-19 testing, has provided resources to local businesses such as grant information and disinfection training courses, and is now the primary registration site for City-led COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Continuing City Operations
In March 2020, every city department created Continuity Plans for the Pandemic Planning Framework to ensure services are still provided to the community. Through the Continuity Plans, the City was able to create virtual services, create a work-from-home program and ensure services continued to be safely available for the community.
City Employees Telework
In 2020 City employees were enabled to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to this year employees did not have the opportunity to telework. Through the Continuity Planning and a proactive workforce, operations became more innovative and accessible to the community.
In 2020 the City also obtained services from Citibot, a multi-channel, AI-powered communications platform, to facilitate communications with employees and citizens of Brownsville. Citibot, also known as BTX Engage, has allowed the City to provide immediate text updates to employees during the pandemic.
After utilizing BTX Engage to enhance communication with city employees, Citibot was integrated with the new City of Brownsville website. This new platform allows the community to chat with an AI-platform to submit questions and concerns to the City of Brownsville. Residents can now request information via BTX Engage’s web chat feature or smart text!
To access BTX Engage, visit www.cob.us or text “HELLO” TO 1-855-550-1289 (1BTX)
Supporting Small Businesses
The City of Brownsville, the University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley and Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) created a free Small Business Training Program to include three online courses: E-Commerce, Small Business Resilience Marketing Alignment and Elements of a Business Plan. These courses were available for 300 participants in English and Spanish.
Through a partnership with Texas Southmost College, the City provided local businesses with COVID-19 Disinfection Training. This program taught safe working environments for employees and safe shopping environments for customers.
Additionally, the City partnered with local downtown restaurants to provide accessible curbside services enabling these local businesses to stay in business in the wake of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This support also included converting downtown parking spaces into “parklets” to allow for outdoor seating at restaurants without traditional patios and outdoor seating.
To share these programs with our local hotel industry, Visit Brownsville hosted a series of hotel round tables to provide information on the latest assistance programs. These roundtables also created a forum for local hoteliers and managers to share opportunities for support from the City. To participate in the next hotel roundtable email us.