The St. Louis Regional Chamber’s 2018 calendar year financial information was recently filed showing that we ran a $1.3 million deficit in 2018. What does this mean?

In 2018, we had to make a few large, one-time payments, including contractual payments to the Chamber’s former president and CEO who resigned in 2018. Since then, the Regional Chamber has made a number of significant changes. In spite of the one-time payment, we still managed to reduce our overall expenses throughout the year. In 2018, our CEO compensation was decreased by over 50% from 2015 levels.

In January 2019, AllianceSTL was formed to ramp up business recruitment and expansion services and regional marketing. With the Chamber providing administrative support, the Alliance’s formation allowed us to review our core programming and ask our members and investors “What do you value most about the Regional Chamber?”

According to surveyed members, the Regional Chamber’s value and role in St. Louis’ economic development ecosystem is its ability to engage and connect the business community - both as a united voice and as individual companies - to move the region forward. We bring together elected officials, business leaders and members to collaborate and address key regional issues like workforce development, entrepreneurship and innovation, diverse business capacity and equity. We also advocate for forward-thinking, pro-business public policy in Missouri and Illinois at the local, state and federal levels. The Regional Chamber and our members, especially in a region divided by geographic, political and economic boundaries, can help unite our region toward bold, growth-minded goals.

This is the basis for our 2020 Strategic Plan, which will be unveiled in January. The key words are collaboration, momentum and engagement.

Since early 2019, the major economic development organizations in the region have focused on coordination vs. competition, and we all have unique and collaborative roles in recruiting, retaining and growing talent and economic opportunities in St. Louis. Today, the Regional Business Council, Civic Progress, AllianceSTL, alongside our local and state economic development partners in Missouri and Illinois, work closely to coordinate our efforts and track results. We believe we can achieve the level of growth and talent attraction of peer regions like Cincinnati, Nashville and Charlotte. The St. Louis region has the assets, the opportunities and the outstanding quality of life that people and businesses want - we just need to continue to work together, focus on common goals and get the word out.

Today, we at the Regional Chamber are looking forward. 2019 has been a year of change for the Chamber - and 2020 will show the results of this change. Look for big things from the Regional Chamber in 2020 as we envision the St. Louis region being more prosperous, inclusive and the community of choice.