Hard Work Ahead

I wanted to thank the hundreds of people who joined us for our Annual Meeting. It’s our way of honoring the best of what the St. Louis region has to offer and supporting the economic development of both the City and the County.

We were honored to have Rev. Arthur Cavitt deliver our keynote address. As a parish priest based in Ferguson his words were both rousing and meaningful.

Just last year, Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley co-launched the Partnership – building the first ever joint city/county strategic plan. Through that plan, we agreed to three core principles of collaboration, inclusion and performance. We also agreed to six strategic priorities to help develop the region. We awarded companies and individuals at the meeting based upon their efforts to help us meet key strategic goals.

This year’s winners were:

I cannot thank these individuals and companies enough for their tireless work to help improve St. Louis. With their help, along with countless others, jobs are growing at the fastest clip since 2000, unemployment is at a six-year low and entrepreneurship has grown immensely from just a couple of years ago. As reported in the St. Louis Business Journal, St. Louis had the best jobs month in its history this past July.

However, the region has been through a trying month and the underlying forces that boiled over in Ferguson aren’t going to go away. In fact, those same dynamics are a reality everywhere in this country. It will take substantial efforts to fix what is broken. There are real problems that need attention: income disparities, persistent unemployment and lack of opportunities in some neighborhoods.

But broken glass is not all that needs to be repaired. Our national and international image is tarnished. Many are pushing us to launch positive marketing and public relations campaigns to combat what the world witnessed live on CNN. There will be a time for that, but it’s not now.

We have to work to fix the problems that got us here. Hard work has to be done.

But the annual meeting was one place where the St. Louis community – businesses, nonprofits, government and individuals – could come together in a period of tumult to help one another and move St. Louis forward.

Thank you for the work you all do. I couldn’t be more proud of St. Louis.