By Joe Reagan, President and CEO, St. Louis Regional Chamber
and Gisele Marcus, Executive Vice President, St. Louis Regional Chamber
We’re reminded of a speech by Teddy Roosevelt, which was recently popularized by author Brene Brown: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.” It’s our time for teamwork and action. It’s not a time to be paralyzed by the fear of failing.
This is a critical time for St. Louis, and for metropolitan regions across the country. Economic development in this day and age is about developing equity and opportunity for all of our fellow citizens regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, who they love, or their station in life. True economic development depends on an “abundance mentality,” a belief that with growth, everyone can succeed.
We received a call recently from the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce. They wanted to know — what did you do to help the community after the tragic events and aftermath of Ferguson? Our answer was first and foremost, we accepted our faults and held ourselves accountable. We also made it clear “that side of town is our side of town.”
The Chamber embraces the message from Susan Bro, proud mother of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed in the vicious attack in Charlottesville. “If we’re not outraged, we’re not paying attention.” Friends, we must be outraged. We must pay attention. We must fight against hate. There’s no room on the sidelines for any of us in this arena. So, you will see the Chamber speak forcefully and clearly against hate and for justice.
Nothing will be more important than our decision about local government unity. Let’s face it: Our boundless potential has been limited by the boundaries we’ve imposed on ourselves.
The fact-driven research and open dialogue catalyzed by Better Together have demonstrated how our current fragmented civic structures just don’t work. And worse, they perpetuate “the scarcity mentality” that pits neighbor against neighbor, and which has led to an unacceptable maze of regulations and unsustainable economics.
Better Together, with the support of County Executive Steve Stenger and Mayor Lyda Krewson, has formed a task force to identify best practices and possible reforms to our current structure. The task force is led by Suzanne Sitherwood, the CEO of Spire; Arindam Kar, a partner at the law firm of Bryan Cave; and Dr. Will Ross, a physician and assistant dean for diversity at Washington University School of Medicine.
This process will include comprehensive outreach designed to get feedback from citizens. At the end of this yearlong effort, recommendations will be made for further discussion and, hopefully, action.