• 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.

  • State Reps. Evans, Franks, and Merideth Discuss Legislative Session with Missouri Public Affairs Network

    Jul 17, 2017

    Missouri State Representatives Jean Evans (R-99), Bruce Franks (D-80), and Peter Merideth (D-78) addressed the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Missouri Public Affairs Network on Friday, July 14. The three freshmen representatives on the “rising stars” panel led an engaging and insightful conversation which covered their first impressions of representing the St. Louis area in Jefferson City.

    7.17.17 MOPAN PictureRep. Evans said she was pleasantly surprised by how well her fellow legislators got along regardless of political affiliation. She added that the newly elected representatives in particular have expressed a desire to do away with partisan gridlock, so much so that they often cannot distinguish between Democrats and Republicans.

    Rep. Franks spoke about his experience working across the aisle with Republican lawmakers, particularly given his party’s “super-minority” status in the Missouri House of Representatives. Franks said that working with lawmakers from across the state opened his eyes to the urban-rural divide. He also expressed gratitude for being able to work with an opposing party “that’s actually willing to listen,” noting the bipartisan effort to secure $4 million in federal funds for summer youth jobs in Missouri.

    Rep. Merideth echoed his colleagues’ remarks about the sense of bipartisanship among the newest members of the Missouri House. Merideth said he was most proud of his work on HCB 3, a bill intended to extend community services to vulnerable populations which received bipartisan support, but was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.

    All three representatives were asked to evaluate the Governor’s recently announced safety plan for the City of St. Louis. Rep.Evans expressed support for the plan, while Reps. Franks said the plan fails to address the root causes of violence. Rep. Merideth cited the negative impact of predatory ticketing practices on police-community relations.