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New BPC and de Beaumont Foundation Report Calls for Businesses and Public Health Agencies to Work Together to Improve Community Health

Washington, D.C. — Today the Bipartisan Policy Center and de Beaumont Foundation released a new report that demonstrates the value of creating partnerships between governmental public health agencies and businesses or chambers of commerce to advance the health of their communities. It offers practical recommendations to form strong partnerships and overcome barriers to working together.

“These partnerships are a win-win for both businesses and public health agencies and cannot be underestimated,” said Anand Parekh, M.D., BPC chief medical advisor. “Working together, they can enhance their individual efforts to improve the health, well-being, and safety of individuals, families, and communities. We believe these partnerships can be real game-changers to improving the health of all Americans.”

The report, Good Health is Good Business, points out that business success and community health are intrinsically linked. Businesses need healthy, productive workforces and healthy consumers, while public health departments must ensure healthy conditions for their residents. Despite their shared interest, few partnerships currently exist in the United States. One promising example is in Kansas City, Missouri, where the KC Chamber of Commerce grew concerned that negative publicity from poor health rankings could hurt the city’s brand. The KC Chamber partnered with the Kansas City Health Department and other partners to tackle several upstream drivers of health, including a multi-year effort to get 30 municipalities to raise the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21.

“Businesses will be more successful and impactful if they extend their employee wellness efforts to meet the needs of the entire community,” said Brian C. Castrucci, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. “Working together, public health departments and business leaders can create thriving and prosperous communities, and we hope this report will inspire more of these transformative partnerships around the country.”

Typically, efforts to improve population health have occurred within siloes, with businesses focusing on worksite wellness while governmental public health agencies worked more broadly within the community, but often without sufficient resources. Barriers to working together include communication and language issues, potential conflicts of interest, staff and leadership turnover, and organizational culture.

This report offers recommendations for building strong partnerships including tactics for thinking strategically about who should be at the table, creating a persuasive message to get groups to join, identifying key focus areas, and developing ways to measure success and impact. Additionally, the report points out the important role strategic communications plays in promoting the work of the partnership within the community and to other jurisdictions trying to build similar relationships.

The research, which was informed by literature review, discussions with public health and business leaders, and case study interviews, shows that successful public-private partnerships require motivated and committed leaders, equal participation between both parties, and a joint strategic plan for change.

BPC and the de Beaumont Foundation believe implementing the actions identified in this report will accelerate these partnerships around the nation and advance progress toward shared community health goals and positive health outcomes.

This work is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the de Beaumont Foundation.

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