• St. Louis Regional Chamber Delegation Advocates for Earned Income Tax Credit, Transportation and Innovation Funding at Annual Day at the Capitol

    Jan 19, 2018

    Lobby Day 1A delegation of over 60 private sector executives and leaders visited Jefferson City on January 17th as part of the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s annual Regional Day in Jefferson City. The Chamber once again joined with partner organizations and local chambers of commerce to discuss regional policy and legislative priorities with members of Governor Greitens’ cabinet and leaders in both the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives.

    The Chamber’s top legislative issue for 2018 is passing a statewide Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which will break the cycle of poverty and grow Missouri’s economy by encouraging more individuals to enter the workforce. EITC has strong legislative sponsors in both the House and Senate and the policy closely reflects Governor Greitens’ remarks calling for a system that lifts people out of poverty and into the middle class, based on hard work and personal responsibility. Other priority legislative issues for Missouri include investing in innovation and entrepreneurship through the Missouri Innovation Fund, increased state funding for transportation and public transit, inclusive employment law reform and restoring trust in the justice system.

    The delegation shared the Chamber’s top priorities with the General Assembly and had the opportunity to hear from the top executive and legislative leaders about their vision for the future of business in Missouri. The policy priorities continue the Chamber’s focus on advocating for forward-thinking economic policies that will create jobs and grow the regional St. Louis economy.

    “The Chamber’s top priorities are all about increasing our economic prosperity for all St. Louisans,” said Hart Nelson, Vice President of Public Policy at the Chamber. “We know the key to supporting our business community is by investing in our regional workforce and infrastructure, and making sure we can attract and retain talented people and companies from across the world."

    In addition to meetings with senior members of the Greitens Administration, the delegation met with Speaker of the House Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard. In all, the delegation met with over 30 legislators from the St. Louis region and across the state to advocate for policies that will make St. Louis a more inclusive and attractive place to live, work and invest for all people.

    Check out photos from the event on the Chamber's Flickr page.

  • Gov. Greitens Invites New Voices to the Innovation Table

    Sep 06, 2017

    Four months ago, I wrote a blog entry entitled “Governor Greitens Deserves a Seat at the Innovation Table.”  At the time, there was a fair amount of anxiety in the St. Louis innovation ecosystem over the future of the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC), the primary state funding vehicle for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial support organizations over the last 10 years. Gov. Greitens’ budget proposed $5 million for funding MTC while the legislature was contemplating zeroing it out altogether.  The final number came in at $2.5 million.

    Yesterday, the Governor’s Innovation Task Force released its report, a 100+ page document that I’m confident will serve as the gold standard for joint public-private problem solving for other states.

    The report was the result of one of the most collaborative, thoroughgoing processes I’ve ever witnessed.  Thousands of Missourians took surveys, voted, participated in roundtables, and offered their input.  Its scope is truly comprehensive, taking into account everything from K-12 curriculum reform to deregulation to alternate funding mechanisms for entrepreneurs and support organizations.  The report presents a clear, detailed picture of where Missouri stands today, what strategic advantages we enjoy, and what challenges we face in the future.  With a research team led by a former McKinsey partner as well as the head of Accenture’s St. Louis office, it stands up to the very best work being done on this subject anywhere in the world.

    Some may complain that it did not “throw down the gauntlet” by offering specific recommendations or identifying a mythical silver bullet, but this was never the goal.  The governor told the steering committee in June that he wasn’t interested in a watered-down, consensus-oriented white paper.  What he wanted was rock-solid research and an unbiased presentation of the best options, even if some of them conflicted with each other. And that’s exactly what he got.

    The challenge going forward will be to evaluate these options and decide which ones to prioritize.  That is no small task.  Different players will have different views depending on their needs and their roles.  We saw that clearly throughout the summer.

    And that really goes to the heart of the challenge facing Missouri; we are a fragmented state.  We have fault lines along geography (KC vs. STL), culture (rural vs. urban), industry, and so on.  If nothing else, the process this summer helped bridge some of those divides by getting people out of their comfort zones.  It forced people to think in terms of what is best for Missouri—all of Missouri—rather than personal best interests. That’s progress. Like it or not, we are all in this together, and we can’t reach our goals without helping our neighbors reach theirs.

    I’m incredibly proud of the work of the Task Force. Gov. Greitens not only took a seat at the table, he expanded the table to include voices that haven’t been heard.  This is the essence of collaborative leadership and it is the right way to get to the right answers on innovation and other important matters.