The St. Louis Regional Chamber celebrated those who work to make St. Louis a more prosperous region at its 181st Annual Event at the Chase Park Plaza on Thursday evening. The event focused on the Chamber’s priorities for the coming year – economic development, building business capacity, workforce development and narrowing its legislative agenda. Chamber President and CEO Tom Chulick and Gisele Marcus, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Operations encouraged the Chamber community and its partners to collaborate and embrace a positive regional narrative to help the St. Louis region compete more effectively with other regions like Nashville, Indianapolis and Louisville, as well as larger cities like Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas.
Chulick highlighted some of the strong investment happening around the region, including the over $1 billion in new development happening along the central corridor, including Ballpark Village Phase 2, the Enterprise Center redevelopment, Union Station and CORTEX. Chulick and Marcus also recognized strong investment happening through the region at 39 North innovation district, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency expansion, downtown Clayton, St. Charles County business growth, Madison County’s Gateway Commerce Center, downtown Belleville’s business district, and many more. Chulick encouraged leaders to join the Chamber for its upcoming Leadership Experience trip to Nashville and Indianapolis to explore what these regions have done to encourage unity and economic growth, and spurn new ideas to make St. Louis more competitive.
Regional Chamber Board Chairman and Ameren Chairman, President and CEO Warner Baxter joined emcee Mike Kelly, host of KMOX Sports Open Line and voice of the Mizzou Tigers, in welcoming over 800 attendees. The program also featured Stan Shoun from Ranken Technical College to talk about workforce development and Ronke Faleti, CEO of Korede, to talk about building capacity for entrepreneurs and small businesses. In addition to the yearly results and formal award presentation, the evening included a silent auction and multiple opportunities for participants to network with other regional leaders.
Valerie Patton, Senior Vice President, Inclusion and Talent Attraction presented the Right Arm of St. Louis Award to the National Park Service, honoring its 83-year legacy in St. Louis providing memorable and educational experiences to millions of visitors to the region. Mike Ward, Superintendent of Gateway Arch National Park, accepted the award on behalf of the National Park Service. Under Ward's leadership, in 2007, the National Park Service worked with community leaders to push through the Comprehensive Management Plan to redesign the park grounds and revitalize the Arch experience. The result, unveiled earlier this month, is a National Park and museum that matches the splendor of one of the greatest icons in the world.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber team also presented updates on progress in the areas of Business Recruitment, Business Capacity, Workforce Development and Public Policy. Highlights included:
- Over the past year, the Chamber has helped secure 16 business recruitment expansion deals that resulted in nearly new 4,000 new jobs, $183 million in new payroll and $798 million in new capital investment for the St. Louis region. Over the past few months, the Chamber has greatly increased its efforts toward business recruitment and now has over 90 job-creating projects in the works, 26 from May and June alone.
- Since 2013, an average of over $342MM per year in Venture Capital has been deployed into St. Louis startups. Part of the broader mission at the St. Louis Regional Chamber is to help promote a culture of innovation. To that end, the Chamber has co-founded the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, a public private partnership whose goal is to promote the building of a Hyperloop Route between Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis.An engineering feasibility study is scheduled for completion by the end of September. Another exciting collaborative project is also underway, a Minority Entrepreneurial Accelerator housed at Harris-Stowe University, the first program of its kind in the country.
- Workforce development is a top priority for businesses as well as the St. Louis Regional Chamber. The Chamber convened over 100 educational institutions, business leaders and community organizations to develop and sign the St. Louis Regional Education Commitment, a shared agenda to help increase the number of college graduates in our region and reduce talent gaps by making education and training easier to obtain, more affordable, and more responsive to workforce demand.
- The St. Louis Regional Chamber is getting back to the basics this year when it comes to Public Policy, starting with a reboot of its Policy Council. A new voting process will give members and investors more influence on the Chamber’s public policy platform, and its legislative agenda will shrink to reflect a more narrowed focus, keeping the concentration on economic development and workforce issues in order to be more effective with advocacy resources and secure more wins for the region.
Lakesha Mathis, Program Manager of the St. Louis Minority Business Council highlighted the first annual St. Louis Business Diversity Connect event at the Marriott Grand Hotel on September 25, a collaboration with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Minority Business Diversity Development Agency of St. Louis, the Women’s Business Development Center, and Mid-States Minority Supplier Diversity Council. The regional daylong event will provide workshops, speakers and opportunities to connect MBEs, WBEs and DBEs and corporate supplier diversity professionals.