• Chamber Presents 2017 Agenda for Regional Prosperity

    Dec 16, 2016

    Agenda for Regional Prosperity

    The St Louis Regional Chamber advocates forward-thinking economic policies that result in a safer and more secure region, racial equity, and substantial investments in our region’s infrastructure.

    The St. Louis Regional Chamber is proud to present our 2017 Agenda for Regional Prosperity.  This is our focused agenda for change based on these three core positions derived from our people-first economic development strategy:

    • Our Position on Safety and Security

      One of the most basic functions of government, echoed from the framers of the U.S. Constitution to today, is to ensure public safety. People cannot prosper economically when they are worried about their basic safety. Violent crime creates individual tragedies that devastate families, affects our quality of life and makes it difficult to attract and retain the talent that drives our region’s economy.

      In addition to the human tragedy, high crime rates have a direct impact on our economy and an employer’s ability to grow. Crime leads to increased bottom line business costs, shifting capital from productive uses to supplementing security, losses from theft, and in many cases substantially higher insurance costs. Employers may decide to withdraw entirely from high crime areas, resulting in lost or displaced jobs.

      Residents, employees and employers alike must feel safe and secure at work, at home, and in public spaces. The community must trust that our justice system is ready to serve and protect everyone, regardless of race or income. We must ensure our law enforcement and courts have the staffing, resources and training needed to accomplish what is often an extremely difficult job.

      Safety and Security Includes:

      • Ensure execution of a plan to reduce actual and perceived overall crime in the St. Louis Region, with a particular focus on a meaningful reduction in the rate of violent crime, to create a safer and more secure region for job creation and investment while at the same time improving citizen-law enforcement relations  
      • Advocate for more effective law enforcement presence on Metrolink through collaborative and community-oriented policing by accredited police departments and encourage all public safety partners to work together as efficiently as possible to ensure public safety on this critical public transit system.  Support system and design changes that will improve rider safety
      • Support efforts of Metro East law enforcement agencies to consolidate and obtain modern facilities in order to eliminate duplicative services and overhead costs and increase service quality 
      • Support implementation of a specialized judicial district focused on crimes committed with firearms (i.e. a “gun court”) in St. Louis City to ensure truly violent criminals are less able to reoffend 
      • Require law enforcement agencies in our region achieve professional accreditation within three years to ensure residents are provided with high-quality policing and that law enforcement officers have clear guidance and access to best-in-class training 
      • Monitor progress made on the Missouri Supreme Court’s minimum standards order for municipal courts.  Monitor state audits of municipalities to ensure changes and increased accountability help restore community trust in the justice system 
      • Encourage counties in the St. Louis region, and across the state, in voluntarily joining the St. Louis County prescription drug monitoring database to safeguard public health and safety and reduce prescription drug abuse 
      • Work with legislators and stakeholders to develop legislation that will combat racial profiling by law enforcement in a meaningful and effective way in order to restore minority community trust in the police 
    • Our Position for Equity and Opportunity

      Job creation and sustainable economic growth flourish with open, inclusive education, markets, and capital formation.  St. Louis will flourish by attracting entrepreneurs, innovative employers and talent and by embracing the demands of both entrepreneurial risk-taking and increasing economic mobility.  Injustices from inequities spread community hurt and mistrust.  Racial and economic impacts need to be factors in policy decision-making. 

      Public money should focus on community building and improving the fundamentals of community life.  The region should review its economic development toolkit and approach to tax credits and incentives to strengthen what works and fix what is broken. Economic incentives should prioritize talent development and capital formation and be based on net new job growth for the bi-state region rather than shifting jobs across government boundaries.  

      Equity and Opportunity includes:  

      • Champion a Missouri Earned Income Tax Credit bill to help low-income working families overcome the cycle of poverty 
      • Support efforts to ensure Missouri has a nimble and flexible economic development structure, allowing it to provide even more effective service delivery and responsiveness to business needs; as part of this effort, review Missouri’s system of tax credits to reflect the reality of the 21st-century global economy and ensure incentives focus on encouraging investment in people and talent 
      • Advocate for employment law reform in Missouri to foster a more attractive business climate in our region and state. As part of this effort, support reforms that would limit individual liability of managers and supervisors, mirror the federal standard of proof in discrimination cases, tighten whistleblower protection so that it applies only in cases when an employee alerts authorities to an actual illegal act, implement reasonable damage caps, and restore a reasonable threshold for the use of summary judgment in discrimination cases 
      • Support litigation venue reform to close a loophole in Missouri’s law that permits out-of-state plaintiffs to combine claims with local residents.  Changes must be made to maintain fairness to all parties in our legal system, without continuing to allow venue shopping for a favorable plaintiff climate and generous awards 
      • Expand need-based aid for first generation, low income, and/or students of color by scaling investment in regional scholarship funds or programs, building an advocacy coalition focused on state education policy, and collaborating with Higher Education institutions to lower the net cost of a college education 
      • Support full funding of the Missouri K-12 foundation formula to drive equitable outcomes for students across the state, ensuring that more students are graduating high school ready for college and career 
      • Advocate for passage of the employee protections under the Missouri Nondiscrimation Act to foster an inclusive business environment that can attract and retain a highly-skilled workforce 
      • Encourage comprehensive immigration reform and support St. Louis’ Mosaic Project in Welcoming Community programs to attract innovators and ensure employers have access to the best available workers; oppose any legislation that targets immigrants unfairly with regard to education, employment or business creation 
      • Educate stakeholders on the value of Individual Development Accounts in Illinois and Missouri, using St. Louis City Treasurer’s College Kids program as a potential project model, to reduce barriers to higher education, with the goal of passing enabling legislation in both states.
      • Endorse a federal Higher Education Act reauthorization that focuses on removing barriers to access and making higher education more affordable to all 
      • Promote policies for global trade, especially those that boost exports from our region and attract foreign direct investment, using the St. Louis World Trade Center’s Global Cities Initiative as a framework 
      • Advocate for the continuation and eventual expansion of basic medical coverage to Missouri’s low-income population to eliminate healthcare cost-shifting to employers while calling for reasonable reforms in Missouri HealthNet to reduce fraud, waste and abuse in the state’s Medicaid system 
    • Our Position on Build and Invest
      St. Louis needs significant investment in infrastructure that creates jobs, connects where people live with centers of employment and education and the broader world, ensures employers have ready access to critical utilities and freight networks and continues St. Louis’ legacy of open, high quality civic amenities.   These projects will contribute to St. Louis long-term attractiveness, create jobs for people in the near-term, and provide an opportunity for bringing new workers and enterprises into the economy.  Our needs go well beyond surface transportation, such as roads and bridges; our region needs substantial investment in transit, high-speed rail, utilities, parks and projects needed for a vibrant urban core such as competitive sports, convention, and entertainment venues.  

      Traditional and historic approaches to funding and financing are insufficient to our current reality.  Funding and financing will depend on best and next practices of cost and revenue sharing across government jurisdictions and public-private delivery models.  

     Build and Invest includes: 

    • Convene stakeholders to define the infrastructure projects needed to significantly grow our region’s economy.  Use this list to gain consensus around transformational projects that improve the transportation infrastructure for our entire region, with a particular focus on transit and connecting workers to jobs
    • Work with regional stakeholders to adopt alternative funding, cross‐jurisdictional cost sharing and public‐private partnership (P3) delivery models to accelerate major regional projects such as growth at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Metro expansions
    • Support Scott Air Force Base’s growth and status as a transportation and cyber warfare center of excellence and ensure this critical regional employer remains competitive to attract new squadrons and missions 
    • Work in coalition with like-minded allies to increase Missouri transportation funding to go beyond maintenance levels to allow for needed improvements
    • Work closely with AccelerateSTL and allies across the state to increase state funding for the Missouri Technology Corporation, with the goal of leading the region in per capita investment; Strengthen ties with Illinois-based incubators to support similar efforts in Metro East 
    • Endorse an Illinois capital plan that provides additional sustainable funding for Southwestern Illinois Transportation Enhancement (SITE) projects to further economic growth in Metro East
  • The Natural Highways of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers Will Play An Even Bigger Role for Transportation of Goods in the Future

    Dec 08, 2016
    All Things River 130711On Monday, December 5, U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen visited the St. Louis Regional Chamber to announce six Marine Highway Grants. Partners from the Inland River Port & Terminal Association, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association and the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative were also on hand for the announcement. 

    It is estimated that population increases in the United States over the next 30 years will require nearly doubling of the domestic freight capacity in the United States. This will exceed the capacity of the traditional modes of goods transports such as rail and highway and would require tremendous infrastructure investments to support. One of the potential economic solutions to this dramatic transportation demand increase is utilizing the inland waterway systems already in existence. Utilizing the various waterways but especially the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers that converge in the St. Louis Metropolitan area, provides tremendous potential economic advantages for the region and relief for future further congested infrastructure nationally. Currently the navigation economy on the Mississippi River generates $5 billion in annual revenues and supports approximately 20,000 jobs. 

    In support of the strategic planning required to meet this increased demand by utilizing “container- on- barges” services, a $713,000 grant was awarded to America’s Central Port located in Granite City, Illinois. The Illinois Container on Barge Shuttle is an 18-month demonstration project to provide shuttle service for agricultural customers moving containerized exports between southern and northern Illinois to access the Union Pacific and BNSF rail ramps. The shuttle service will operate on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers between Channahon and Granite City, Ill., with an option to extend container-on-barge service to the Gulf of Mexico ports in concert with related Marine Highway Designation.

    Currently there are over 30 million containers that enter the U.S. every year, but there are very few of them that move on the inland waterway system. An efficient container-on-barge shipping process would certainly help to change that. These initial grants are some of the first steps in the development of that process ultimately leading to as efficient and cost effective process as possible. Increased barge traffic on the natural resources of the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri Rivers is not only a very good, viable option to additional infrastructure, it’s a great economic growth stimulator for the St. Louis Region. 
     
    To read more about the grants awarded for Marine Highway projects, visit the Maritime Administration website.

    Joe Reagan U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen