Low wages and limited worker protections have produced rising inequality and economic insecurity in the South and throughout the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the failures of the current employment model and has created an opportunity to reimagine a more equitable and just system. This brief introduces the Community-Centered Employment (CCE) model – a realignment of work in America based on shared values, strengths, and needs within any given community. This model is not only compatible with the current market economy, but it produces greater economic prosperity and social value. Furthermore, examples of the CCE model can already be found in the South and they are thriving. This paper presents two local models (one large city and one rural), both of which have
responded to the COVID-19 employment challenges with a focus on workers’ dignity and power and community needs. We also explain the regional infrastructure that could help support the growth of the CCE model throughout the South.