Potential — that’s the overarching theme of the jobs plan proposed Thursday by Greater St. Louis, Inc.
The organization’s formation was announced at the end of October and involves the merging of five private sector economic development firms: St. Louis Regional Chamber, AllianceSTL, Civic Progress, Downtown STL and Arch to Park. Official operations are set to begin January 1.
The 93-page plan titled “STL 2030 Jobs Plan: Driving a Decade of Inclusive Growth,” was written by Bruce Katz, co-founder of New Localism Associates. Katz, who lives in Arlington, Virginia, conducted the research and guided the plan’s development. He has produced plans and research of this nature across the country and internationally.
The plan outlines five action strategies for the next 10 years:
Steward an inclusive economy;
Restore the core of St. Louis as the jobs and cultural center of the metropolis;
Build a world class ecosystem for small businesses and entrepreneurs; become a talent engine and magnet;
Make St. Louis a hub for next generation industries and technologies.
Katz said in an interview with The St. Louis American that St. Louis has assets that other regions envy and his work illustrates the potential St. Louis has to lead the nation on inclusive economic growth.
While skeptics may say inclusivity talk means nothing without action, Katz said he believes St. Louis really does have the potential to achieve economic growth that elevates everyone.
“... my own sense is no city — really no city in the United States — has basically focused with the kind of attention and discipline that they need particularly to grow Black-owned businesses,” he said. “St. Louis could be that city, there's no reason why you can't be. ... I think there's some momentum in the broader community to crack the code here.”
“... I understand the frustration and I completely respect it and what we're hoping is that this galvanizes action, and five years from now or 10 years from now we will be having a very different conversation.”
“I think what we tried to draw out here, but it's a draft so we'll get comments, is a concrete, detailed, actionable strategy,” Katz said. “This is a plan where the bulk of the plan is what to do, it's not to describe the challenge in a different way. It's really what do you do — either building on what other cities or metros have done, you can adapt it or, frankly, be the first mover.”
Another notable part of the plan includes an initiative called the “STL Pledge,” which asks major employers to set and attain clear targets, with equity as a priority. In addition, another initiative, “Supply STL,” will call for major St. Louis companies and institutions to buy goods and services from locally owned businesses.
Katz said he’s not worried about the plan’s reliance on cooperation from companies, institutions and other key players in the city.
“I find the commitment in St. Louis is off the charts. People want to do things. The question, like with anything else, is will you give them the support they need? And that's why we call for Supply STL, an intermediary with people who really understand procurement.”
Greater St. Louis is asking for feedback from the public. The plan may be reviewed and commented on at GreaterSTLInc.com/jobsplan. There are three online community forums people may join through that same link; one of the forums is co-sponsored by The St. Louis American.
6:30 – 8 p.m. Dec. 8, hosted by FOCUS St. Louis and the Missouri Historical Society
1 – 2 p.m. Jan. 7, hosted by the St. Louis American and 5 On Your Side
10 – 11 a.m. , Jan. 12, hosted by the St. Louis Business Journal
Civic Progress financially supported the development of the “STL 2030 Jobs Plan: Driving a Decade of Inclusive Growth.” It is an organization of St. Louis executives who drive economic initiatives and will become part of Greater St. Louis Inc. when it is operational in January.