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Jobs plan for Greater St. Louis released for community feedback

The public is asked to weigh in on a jobs plan for the region that is one of the top priorities of a new economic group being formed by the merger of several others.

The draft of the “STL 2030 Jobs Plan: Driving a Decade of Inclusive Growth” was released this week by Greater St. Louis Inc.  It is based on what the group calls an objective assessment of St. Louis’ industry strengths and comparative position relative to peer metro areas. The plan can be found here.

The plan is being announced by Greater St. Louis Inc., which in January formally becomes the umbrella organization for Civic Progress, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Downtown STL, Alliance STL, and Arch to Park, most of them longtime private-sector economic development organizations.

Proponents have said Metro East plays heavily into the future of the organization. Efforts are underway to enlist support.

A diverse group of hundreds of community, business, civic, nonprofit and economic development leaders participated in working groups and feedback sessions to help shape the recommendations in the plan.

International economic development expert Bruce Katz, of New Localism Associates, conducted the research and guided the plan’s development. Civic Progress provided funding to support the project.

“The St. Louis metropolitan area has many assets other regions envy,” said Katz. “Our initial research and conversations with community leaders made clear how much potential St. Louis has to lead the nation on inclusive economic growth that benefits citizens and neighborhoods across the metro. The STL 2030 Jobs Plan is designed to provide a roadmap for driving the growth of quality jobs, while reducing racial and ethnic disparities in income and wealth. Now we hope St. Louisans will review the draft and provide additional feedback, ideas and suggestions so that we can make the jobs plan even stronger.”

Jason Hall, a Granite City native and chief executive officer of Greater St. Louis Inc., said the plan draft is designed to spark community engagement and conversation “so that we can further refine the plan to create more jobs for all St. Louisans.”

In coming weeks, community forums will seek feedback about the recommendations to create jobs and address challenges.

The draft jobs plan focuses on five actionable strategies for the next 10 years. They are:

–          Stewarding an Inclusive Economy;

–          Restoring the Core of St. Louis as the Jobs and Cultural Center of the Metropolis;

–          Building a World Class Ecosystem for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs;

–          Becoming a Talent Engine and Magnet; and

–          Making St. Louis a Hub for Next Generation Industries and Technologies.

Across all of the strategies, the draft plan calls for the St. Louis metropolitan community to make a commitment to work together “in bold new ways to create more high-quality job opportunities while also acting with intention so that all residents have access to those opportunities.”

A more vibrant and equitable economy can make meaningful contributions to reducing unacceptable racial disparities in the community, supporters say. The plan also includes recommended initiatives within each strategy and specifics on design, finance and implementation.

A signature initiative outlined in the jobs plan is the STL Pledge, which will ask major employers to set and attain clear targets, with equity as a priority, for buying local, hiring local, investing local and locating a portion of their workforce in the city’s core to create synergistic innovation and broadly shared prosperity.

A related initiative, Supply STL, will call for the collective action of anchor institutions to purchase goods and services at scale from locally owned businesses through targeted procurement and vendor strategies. With a focus on inclusive growth, Supply STL is one of the specific ways the community can help grow more diverse-owned businesses.

“We all have a role to play in creating meaningful, positive systems-change towards inclusive economic growth, enabling all our St. Louis regional family members to thrive,” said Penny Pennington, the managing partner of Edward Jones and chair of the Business & Community DEI Task Force organized by Civic Progress member companies.

The Task Force co-leads are Susan Stith, vice president of diversity, inclusion and civic affairs at Cigna, and Sharon Harvey Davis, vice president, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer of Ameren Corporation.

“Increasingly business has an important role to play in generating innovation, raising standards, taking action, and holding ourselves accountable for results,” Pennington said.

“The STL 2030 Jobs Plan should reflect a clear set of priorities where we can collectively have the most impact across the metro to create more quality jobs and spark inclusive growth,” said Valerie Patton, who will serve as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer of Greater St. Louis, Inc. and president of the Greater St. Louis Foundation. “We must be thoughtful and inclusive by listening to all voices, especially people of color, in our community now – and in the future. Doing so will only make this jobs plan stronger.”

“We want to ensure that the STL 2030 Jobs Plan drives real and meaningful changes, so feedback on this draft from the community is vital,” said Mark Wrighton, chancellor emeritus of Washington University in St. Louis, and chair of the St. Louis leadership team that is guiding development of the action plan. “The vision is to create more quality jobs and economic growth that yields broadly shared prosperity and reduces unacceptable racial disparities. We need and welcome the community’s input on the draft jobs plan as a road map for achieving these aims.”

The draft jobs plan is available for public review and comment on through at least Jan. 31, 2021. At that point, the plan’s leadership team will determine whether an extension of feedback is needed or if the plan can move into the next phase of incorporating feedback and implementation. Additionally, three online community forums on the draft jobs plan will occur over the next several weeks.

These events will be:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., hosted by FOCUS St. Louis and the Missouri Historical Society
  • Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, from 1 to 2 p.m., hosted by the St. Louis American and 5 On Your Side
  • Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, from 10 to 11 a.m., hosted by the St. Louis Business Journal

“I am glad to have been part of the team supporting the development of this draft jobs plan, which outlines concrete actions we can take over the next decade to foster inclusive growth throughout St. Louis,” said Yemi Akande-Bartsch, president and CEO of FOCUS St. Louis, who is a member of the St. Louis leadership team guiding development of the action plan and co-chair of the plan’s talent and workforce development working group. She also serves on the Greater St. Louis, Inc. Integration Advisory Team. “The draft is an important start and now we need the community’s feedback. At FOCUS St. Louis, we look forward to hosting one of these important forums to gather additional feedback to refine the plan.”

“As we work to emerge from the damage done by the pandemic, the STL 2030 Jobs Plan will be an invaluable tool to keep our efforts focused and unified toward a greater St. Louis,” said Hall.

The draft action plan notes, “Disruptive periods enable communities that are organized and focused to leapfrog ahead of others. This is one of those periods — and St. Louis is one of those places. The region can do grand things, together.”

Greater St. Louis Inc.

Greater St. Louis Inc. officially begins operations on Jan. 1, 2021, bringing together business and civic leaders to create jobs, expand equity and improve St. Louis’ global competitiveness. Its mission is to drive growth with a unified voice, a bold agenda and as one metropolitan area that is anchored by a vibrant urban core.

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