• The St. Louis Minority Business Council and St. Louis Regional Chamber Announces Operations Merger

    Nov 20, 2015

    The St. Louis Minority Business Council (SLMBC) and the St. Louis Regional Chamber have reached an agreement today to combine their operations into a new entity to help create a more inclusive and equitable St. Louis economy. The merger was officially announced today at the St. Louis American Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Business Awards luncheon.

    The merger creates a new organization with a familiar and evermore important name – the St. Louis Minority Business Council, LLC.  The new SLMBC’s purpose is to “develop mutually beneficial business relationships between ethnic minority businesses and major buying organizations in the St. Louis bi-state metropolitan area.”

    The new St. Louis Minority Business Council will unveil more details about their strategies and programs at a celebration cocktail reception in their new offices with the Regional Chamber on Thursday, December 10 starting at 5:00 p.m. in the Regional Collaboration Center at the St. Louis Regional Chamber, 211 North Broadway, 13th Floor, St. Louis, MO 63102.

    The announcement comes at the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the world’s largest celebration of innovators and entrepreneurs. “The global economy is about innovative and diverse solutions to complex problems and needs. We need everyone participating, “ said St. Louis Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan. “Initiatives like Accelerate St. Louis and the St. Louis Minority Business Council help more St. Louis minority entrepreneurs compete in larger markets and make St. Louis more competitive in the global economy.”

    According to a recent report on the equity of the St. Louis region, racial economic disparities cost the St. Louis region $14 billion each year. As highlighted in the “Forward thru Ferguson” report, the St. Louis region also ranks 42 out of 50 for economic mobility. “Prosperity exists in the St. Louis region, but not for everyone. This shared reality is the inspiration behind our decision to join forces with the St. Louis Regional Chamber,” said St. Louis Minority Business Council President Edward Bryant, who continues as President of the new organization. 

    The new St. Louis Minority Business Council, powered by the St. Louis Regional Chamber, will identify, develop, and implement forward-thinking strategies to best support minority business enterprises as they build capacity, grow their wealth, and create more jobs. MBEs will have the professional community services of the Council combined with the resources, advocacy, and larger membership network of the Regional Chamber.

    “We are excited to work together through the new St. Louis Minority Business Council to make a St. Louis a more attractive place for people to live, work and invest,” said Suzanne Sitherwood, CEO of the Laclede Group and Chair of the Chamber’s Board.  “As one team, the Council can leverage the Chamber’s resources and the Chamber can fast forward its mission of inclusion by partnering with a well-known organization and helping it to grow.” 

    The merger creates a new entity, the St. Louis Minority Business Council, LLC, with its own board and governance, and will keep its physical, financial, and organizational home at the Regional Chamber. The new organization’s Board will be intentionally inclusive including local minority business owners, leaders from major sourcing/purchasing organizations, and leaders from organizations committed to helping minority owned businesses grow. To allow the new SLMBC Board to be razor-focused on providing programs and services for its minority-owned businesses and major sourcing organizations, the St. Louis Regional Chamber will handle the fiduciary responsibility for the Council.  Joe Reagan, President & CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Valerie Patton, the Chamber’s Vice President of Inclusion & Talent Attraction will join the Board of the new entity. Patton is the co-founder of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative, which is celebrating 10 years of leadership development for over 500 multi-cultural leaders. 

    To view the press release, click here.

  • The Importance of Coming to the Table

    Oct 21, 2014
    Earlier today, Governor Nixon announced the formation of an independent commission designed to bring all of those involved in the events in Ferguson – activists, government, business and civic leaders and concerned residents – to the table and to make recommendations based on the discussions.  His announcement is a major step in the right direction.

    The best way to resolve the issues of race, socio-economics, and failed public policies affecting our community is with open and honest dialogue between the citizens demanding change and the elected officials and government representatives who have a responsibility to bring about that change.

    These issues have divided us and now we have a crisis of violence in our community resulting in young people killed, deep mistrust spreading and community hurt abounding.  Some of our families are mourning the loss of their children, others are afraid of what might happen to their own.  The conflict increases stress and strain on our police officers and their families who worry if they will return home at the end of their shift.

    People in our community are protesting for change because the underlying problems that caused this unrest are real.  We should listen. Their message should be heard.  Our response to this crisis can make St. Louis a national model of how to successfully address issues of equality and inclusion.   We can show that civil rights do not just belong to a period in the past, but are constantly relevant in our city, our region and our nation.

    Our elected leaders understand the importance of bringing everyone to the table and then taking action.  Mayor Slay recently called for an inclusive, permanent entity to facilitate a dialogue between government, civil society and the business community.  Just this week he emphasized that government must listen, and then take action to accomplish change.  Governor Nixon’s Ferguson Commission is specifically charged with studying the events surrounding Ferguson, reaching out to experts, and making specific recommendations.  I urge all sides to respond to the Governor’s invitation to participate in the discussion.

    If we are serious about change, being a positive example, and improving the lives of all who live here, we must come to the table in dialogue.  This conversation must take place between the people who have raised their voices in meaningful protest and the local, state and federal leaders who represent and serve our community.  Every effort should be made to be fully-inclusive and ensure all options are considered.  We must figure out what we can learn together and understand how this community tragedy became a world event.

    The process will be difficult, as it forces us to examine uncomfortable truths about racial disparities, access to jobs, education, justice, policing and violence.   But these discussions need to begin now.  Failure to work together – individuals across neighborhoods, government, employers, educators and activists – will mean we are choosing an unacceptable status quo that will be bad for all of us.

    Ferguson Business


    Ferguson Business
    tags: fergusonbusinesscivic leadersinclusionst. louis | nixon