From Illinois Business Journal news services
ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Minority Business Council and the St. Louis Regional Chamber have reached an agreement to combine their operations into a new entity to help create “a more inclusive and equitable St. Louis economy.”
The merger was officially announced this past week at the St. Louis American Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Business Awards luncheon.
The merger creates a new organization, the St. Louis Minority Business Council, LLC. The new SLMBC’s purpose is to “develop mutually beneficial business relationships between ethnic minority businesses and major buying organizations in the St. Louis bi-state metropolitan area.”
The new St. Louis Minority Business Council will unveil more details about their strategies and programs at a celebration cocktail reception in their new offices with the Regional Chamber on Thursday, Dec. 10, starting at 5 p.m. in the Regional Collaboration Center at the St. Louis Regional Chamber, 211 North Broadway, 13th Floor, St. Louis.
The announcement comes at the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the world’s largest celebration of innovators and entrepreneurs.
“The global economy is about innovative and diverse solutions to complex problems and needs. We need everyone participating, “ said St. Louis Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan. “Initiatives like Accelerate St. Louis and the St. Louis Minority Business Council help more St. Louis minority entrepreneurs compete in larger markets and make St. Louis more competitive in the global economy.”
According to a recent report on the equity of the St. Louis region, racial economic disparities cost the St. Louis region $14 billion each year. As highlighted in the “Forward thru Ferguson” report, the St. Louis region also ranks 42 out of 50 for economic mobility. “Prosperity exists in the St. Louis region, but not for everyone. This shared reality is the inspiration behind our decision to join forces with the St. Louis Regional Chamber,” said St. Louis Minority Business Council President Edward Bryant, who continues as President of the new organization.
The new St. Louis Minority Business Council will identify, develop, and implement forward-thinking strategies to best support minority business enterprises as they build capacity, grow their wealth, and create more jobs. MBEs will have the professional community services of the council combined with the resources, advocacy, and larger membership network of the Regional Chamber.
“We are excited to work together through the new St. Louis Minority Business Council to make a St. Louis a more attractive place for people to live, work and invest,” said Suzanne Sitherwood, CEO of The Laclede Group and chair of the chamber’s board. “As one team, the council can leverage the chamber’s resources and the chamber can fast forward its mission of inclusion by partnering with a well-known organization and helping it to grow.”
The St. Louis Minority Business Council,LLC, with its own board and governance, will keep its physical, financial, and organizational home at the Regional Chamber.
The new organization’s board will be “intentionally inclusive,” including local minority business owners, leaders from major sourcing/purchasing organizations, and leaders from organizations committed to helping minority owned businesses grow.
To allow the new SLMBC Board to be focused on providing programs and services for its minority-owned businesses and major sourcing organizations, the St. Louis Regional Chamber will handle the fiduciary responsibility for the council. Joe Reagan, of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, and Valerie Patton, the chamber’s vice president of Inclusion & Talent Attraction will join the board of the new entity. Patton is the co-founder of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative,which is celebrating 10 years of leadership development for more than 500 multi-cultural leaders.