Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender as we charge ahead into the second quarter of 2021. The weather is getting warmer, the politics are getting busier, and baseball is now here with us for the next several months. Biden has also brought back Infrastructure Week and all that that entails in Washington. Have enough to talk about over Easter Weekend? We hope so, and thanks for joining us again.
THE BIG FIVE
Biden’s closes out March like a lion: His next $2 trillion, clean energy developments, and the future battle over infrastructure. After passing a nearly $2 trillion Covid-19 relief package, President Biden brought his first post-pandemic legislation to the table with similar size and scope – a $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan. The proposal would reshape the U.S. economy and build out clean energy infrastructure to help slow climate change by curbing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, which will help advance the country towards Biden’s net-zero carbon emissions commitment by 2025. It will also transform the country’s roads and bridges, adding new jobs and boosting the economy. Biden’s challenges with this bill will loom much larger than a relief package, as he seeks to make his agenda a reality while finding the method of paying for it. Biden must bring together a large cohort of sectors to successfully sell what the end of that road looks like and how the economy is going to get there. Whether Biden’s plan will have a smooth or rocky road remains to be seen, but it’s sure to be uphill. Read more in Politico
How the Moon (yes, really) helped free up the giant ship in the Suez Canal. We’ve all seen the memes, images, and videos of the past week as the massive cargo ship – the Ever Given – blocked one of the world’s busiest trade routes at the Suez Canal. While after a few days it appeared that a fast solution was becoming more unlikely, the ship was suddenly partially floated and freed. This was a huge relief to the canal and the world at large, and it turns out that we have our Moon to thank for assisting. Engineers discovered that the week’s upcoming Supermoon would bring the water level up to about a foot and a half higher than normal, making it more possible to free the ship without unloading the massive containers on top. This also meant that engineers needed to focus their energy during the short window. A few hours later, science in the Suez Canal helped us prevail. Read more in the Wall Street Journal
Georgia’s never-ending battleground and what it means for companies and their politics. While we are now long past the most unprecedented election cycle in modern history, the battleground for the issues that followed has remained centered on one state: Georgia. This past week, a heated debate has taken effect following the passage of a new statewide law that makes several changes to the election process. Among another change, Georgia’s new law requires having a driver’s license or state ID card in order to request an absentee or mail-in ballot. In addition to the lawsuits and protests, companies are now finding themselves squarely in the middle of the debate with increasingly less room to remain on the sidelines. Corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines have now come out with statements on the bill in what would normally be uncharacteristic. Whether this expectation expands to more issues remains to be seen, but it’s clear the playbook for companies to respond to politics and find the right tone, action, and weight of their statements is adapting quickly, and the lines between the two are more blurred than ever. Read more in the Washington Post
Apple teaming up with Tesla on the future of energy storage. Breaking into a new realm of the renewable energy industry, Apple announced it will be hosting a new battery storage project at a Northern California solar farm, California Flats. The technology will therefore allow energy produced by Apple’s solar array to stored and utilized. Supplying the batteries is Tesla – the two companies are seemingly tied together in many ways, yet surprisingly haven’t had much overlap – yet. The project will be able to store 240-megawatt-hours of energy for Apple to deploy whenever necessary using Tesla’s “megapacks.” While Tesla is best known for its self-driving electric cars and Apple for its iPhones, the companies could be breaking new ground into feasible energy storage solutions, bridging what many believe is the ultimate gap in the energy transition. Read more on The Verge
Covid-19’s unexpected side effect: making business owners better leaders. It’s no secret that Covid-19 will have long-term effects on our economy and society – as well as on the businesses who work each day to keep Americans employed. For many, it has changed their scope of life. For business owners, it has also changed their scope on how they operate their business and handle leadership – and through the past year, many are seeing a better version of themselves in the role. It has been a year of pause and reflection, but also of bold decision-making. Entrepreneurs – whether at heart or in practice – are key to economic recovery, and finding lessons for leadership couldn’t be more important than looking ahead to life post-pandemic. Read more in Inc.
47%. The amount of U.S. adults who reported belonging to a church, synagogue, or mosque in 2020 – down from 73% in 1937 and 70% in 1999.
74%. The percentage of Americans identifying with a major religion (Protestant/Other Christian/Catholic/Jewish/Morman/Muslim). Another 7% identify with Other/Not Specified religions and 19% reported None.
50. The number of years Starbucks Coffee has been in business. The coffee super chain first opened its doors on March 30, 1971, and has since opened 32,938 locations worldwide, including 15,340 in the United States.
437. The number of vessels that were set free of the traffic jam at the Suez Canal along with the Ever Given. The 1,300-foot container ship caused quite the spectacle, creating disruptions across the global trade system.
916,000. The number of jobs the U.S. economy added in the month of March, dropping the unemployment rate to 6%. This report is the strongest indication yet that the labor-market is working back pre-pandemic levels.
13%. The percent decrease in freshman enrollment across all colleges for the fall 2020 semester. Community colleges saw a 21% drop in enrollment.
46%. The increase in applicants to Harvard University in 2021 (their acceptance rate is about 5.2%).
162. The number of Major League Baseball games scheduled in 2021 compared with the 60 games played in the Covid-abbreviated 2020 season (Play Ball!).
3rd. Covid-19 was named as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. last year, after heart disease and cancer.