• Illinois Public Affairs Network Brings Together Legislators and East St. Louis Leaders

    Jul 26, 2017

    The St. Louis Regional Chamber hosted the Illinois Public Affairs Network on July 21, 2017 at the Doubletree Hotel in Collinsville, Illinois with Edmond Brown, President of the Greater East St. Louis Business Development Association; Emeka Jackson-Hicks, Mayor East St. Louis, Illinois; Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-113); Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-114); and Rep. Marcus Evans (D-33). 

    East St. Louis leader Edmond Brown spoke on the formation of the Greater East St. Louis Business Development Association and the need for regional leaders to develop partnerships within East St. Louis to make the city an inclusive component of the region economically. Brown said their Chamber’s goals are to unite regional interests, nurture small businesses through education, and expand economic development efforts.

    Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks presented on economic development projects within the city of East St. Louis and the foundational work that has been done so far. Mayor Hicks discussed her administration’s goal to establish relationships on federal, state, local, public, and private levels and her intent to create a level of integrity throughout every department within the city of East St. Louis. Under Mayor Hick’s leadership, the city has held monthly town hall meetings, established weekly administration updates in the city newspaper, undergone efforts to stabilize and restructure leadership within all departments of city hall, pushed forward efforts to complete all city audits, and created an initiative called “Restoration of Hope” that aims to create greater civic engagement amongst citizens.

    Illinois State Rep. Jay Hoffman, chairman of the Labor and Commerce Committee, briefly spoke on the Illinois state legislature and passing a budget.  Illinois State Rep. LaToya Greenwood, a former East St. Louis city councilwoman, spoke on economic development efforts within the 114th district. She has adopted a “Buy American, Buy Local, Support Local Jobs” initiative championed by Rep. Hoffman that urges citizens to sustain, support, and create local jobs. Greenwood said she will also continue to look for ways to expand tax credits for working families and provide incentives to create jobs in Illinois.

    In closing, Rep. Marcus Evans, Chairman of the Transportation Committee, remarked on his work with the state legislature and the business community. Rep. Evans said his committee’s current priority is to regulate roads and bridges as well as look into better transportation options for those commuting in rural areas.

    Kevin Riggs, managing director at the Denton US, LLP, followed by moderating a question and answer section before adjourning.

                                                          IL Reps_IPAN 
    Edmond Brown, President of Greater East St. Louis Business
    Development Association addresses the Illinois Public Affairs Network.

    (From left to right) Rep. Jay Hoffman, Rep. Latoya Greenwood, and Rep. Marcus Evans.
  • 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.