This morning more than 400 St. Louis leaders and interested community members came together for the Annual State of St. Louis event hosted by the St. Louis Business Journal. The event featured four of the region’s top leaders to talk about the opportunities and challenges the St. Louis region faces. The panel discussion was moderated by Ellen Sherberg, Publisher of the Journal and included:
- Francis Slay– Mayor, City of St. Louis
- Charlie Dooley– St. Louis County Executive
- Steve Ehlmann– St. Charles County Executive
- Mark Kern– St. Clair County Chairman
The panelists were surprisingly mostly positive about the accomplishments in the region over the last year and optimistic about the future of the region. They talked about the growth of our local universities, growth in new construction, investment in transportation, and the growing convention business this city is drawing. As Mr. Ellman stated, we are focused on “bringing new jobs to the region, not just moving jobs around the region”.
Mr. Dooley talked about the tough decisions that must be made by the region’s leaders when it comes to evaluating what’s important to our community. In his view, of upmost importance are education, innovation, and immigration. In fact, all of the panelists spoke of the need to both bring in new talent to our region and prevent the “brain drain” of talent from the region.
Another hot topic of the morning was topic of city/county merger. Mayor Slay unequivocally stated his desire for the city and the county to merge will the goal of “increased efficiency and a way to provide better government”. He said, “We are one big economic engine and the stronger we are, the easier it is to sell our region’s products worldwide.”
The panelists were asked to give their advice to Joe Reagan, the incoming RCGA President, who starts in his new role on Monday. All advocated for a regional approach to economic development with a focus on better transportation infrastructure and workforce development. This past year saw and upcoming year sees many changes in the leadership structure of our community with new leaders at East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWG), Metro Transit St. Louis, RCGA, and others (including at many of our major philanthropic organizations- Greater St. Louis Community Foundation, Missouri Foundation for Health, Deaconess Foundation of St. Louis, St. Louis Mental Health Board…). The panelists noted that these new leaders represent a new opportunity to bring the community together.
Overall, it was a great event (with an exceptionally good breakfast!). The Center hopes that the region’s business leaders will find a way to also continue to work with the region’s philanthropic leaders to create a greater St. Louis.
The event was sponsored by Center Member AT&T ,Boeing, and the Regional Business Council as well as Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 and St. Louis County Economic Council.