Collaboration is essential.
If there was one common theme or message presented at the third annual Southwest Regional Economic Summit on Oct. 17, 2018, those three words provided an accurate summation.
More than 100 people gathered at Sunset Country Club for presentations and a discussion by Better Together STL and Cities Strong. The event was presented by of the Crestwood-Sunset Hills, Kirkwood-Des Peres and Fenton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Internal competition, disparity in services and a lack of vision for regional success are three impediments to successful growth in our region, according to David Leipholtz, Director of Community-Based Studies for Better Together STL. Leipholtz, a former history teacher at Lindbergh High School, offered to visit or speak with any group in the region about their organization. He emphasized the rumors about Better Together STL—those around pushing for a merger of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County and a statewide vote mandating the merger—were false.
Leipholtz shared a story he heard from a recruiter in St. Louis that painted a picture of our current situation. Allow me to paraphrase:
What if you had the choice of eating at a restaurant with a Grade A rating by the health department or a Grade C? Most people would choose the Grade A restaurant. But, what if I told you that if you went to the Grace C restaurant and ordered the chicken dish, you would not get sick?
That’s the dilemma we’re facing in our region. We’re not at a Grade A level, but you can move or start a business here in a very selective way and not be harmed.
Pat Kelly and Jim Brasfield represented Cities Strong. Brasfield emphasized the need to collaborate and for cultivating leadership.
“There are no heroes,” Brasfield said, “just us.”
Kelly noted several problems caused by the lack of a leader and leadership throughout the region. He also predicted a formula for improving the region.
“Economic growth with follow population growth,” Kelly said.
It was an honor to end the program with some closing comments. Thanks to my good friend, David Straub, for sending me the recording.
The Fenton Area Chamber of Commerce supports, promotes & encourages shopping local and keeping business in Fenton. The organization also serves as a link between our members and the community, providing members with tools to succeed in business through networking, marketing, and educational opportunities.