The St. Louis Regional Chamber held its annual “Championing a Greater St. Louis” Dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis on September 19th. The event recognized the service of members in the Illinois and Missouri General Assemblies, and acknowledged legislators who exhibited outstanding dedication and support for the Chamber’s legislative priorities in 2016 and the future.
Chamber Policy Council Chair Jennifer Obertino, Vice President at AECOM, told the gathering that the Regional Chamber recognizes that public service is not easy, and sometimes doing the right thing is not always acknowledged or rewarded as an elected official. Speaking directly to the many legislators in attendance she thanked them for their service, dedication, and courage to make life better for everyone.
Addressing the over 200 business leaders and elected officials, Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan emphasized the Chamber’s work in bringing people together for the benefit of a unified St. Louis region. Everyone, he said, has a role to play in driving equitable, abundant job creation and economic growth by advocating for public polices in three key areas: safety and security, equity and opportunity, and building and investing in regional infrastructure.
Warner Baxter, Chairman, President and CEO of Ameren and the new Board Chair for the Regional Chamber also thanked legislators for their leadership and dedication to inspiring a greater St. Louis, saying that “It is not just about fighting against legislative and policy initiatives…it is about being for something.” Baxter said the Chamber’s role in delivering this positive change to St. Louis is to drive economic development, market the region, prepare the workforce, and provide a policy perspective on the most important regional issues and priorities.
The 2016 honorees included Legacy Award winners Missouri Senators Joe Keaveny and Eric Schmitt for their tremendous public service and commitment to the Chamber’s priorities throughout their careers.
Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt Receiving the Legacy Award
Missouri Sen. Joe Keaveny Giving his Acceptance Speech after Receiving the Legacy Award
The Regional Chamber also recognized Missouri Reps. Mike Colona, Jim Hansen, Jeremy LaFaver, Sharon Pace, Caleb Rowden and Anne Zerr as Chamber Champions. These legislators helped to defeat SJR39, a far-reaching proposal to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community despite evidence of negative social and economic impact from similar legislation in other states.
Missouri Rep. Mike Kelley was recognized as a Chamber Champion for his sponsorship of a Missouri Earned Income Tax Credit, a Chamber priority in 2016, while Missouri Sen. Bob Dixon was recognized for his leadership in changing the use of deadly force for law enforcement.
In addition to the Chamber Champion awardees, the Regional Chamber gave Advocate awards to Missouri Sen. Doug Libla for his efforts to obtain sufficient transportation funding by sponsoring a gas tax increase through the Senate, as well as Speaker of the House Todd Richardson for his continued commitment to meaningful ethics reform.
The Chamber also recognized Missouri Sen. Kurt Schaefer and Missouri Rep. Tom Flanigan as Advocates. Sen. Schaefer and Rep. Flanigan led the effort to secure additional funding for the Missouri Technology Corporation, a public-private partnership that is critical to developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Missouri.
The Regional Chamber bestowed four Catalyst Awards to up-and-coming lawmakers that demonstrate promise for advancing priority issues for the Chamber in the future. Missouri Reps. Justin Alferman and Shamed Dogan and Illinois Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Jerry Costello, II received the awards for ethics reform efforts, work on the Illinois budget crisis, and economic development in Southwest Illinois, respectively.
Regional Chamber President & CEO Joe Reagan Addressing Guests at the Dinner
See more photos from the event on the Chamber's Facebook page