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Economic Inclusion

The Greater St. Louis economy is also an inclusive one. The region is highly diverse, and we continue to look for ways to make our workforce more inclusive of people of different backgrounds and cultures.

Launched in 2001, the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative works with area companies to build diversity and inclusion programs through training, convening and consulting. The initiative is made up of companies, organizations and agencies committed to attracting, retaining and advancing talented, diverse employees. Their Initiative Fellows Program, launched in 2006, is a yearlong leadership program for professionals of color or multicultural professionals. The curriculum includes best practices in professional development, relationship building and civic engagement to help fellows advance their careers. Between 2006 and 2017, more than 700 professionals have graduated from the Fellows Program. About 70 percent have been promoted or have had an increase in responsibilities.

The immigrant community in Greater St. Louis plays a vital role in the economy, especially in high-skilled roles. Per research from Saint Louis University, immigrants in the region are 44 percent more likely to have at least a college education, 130 percent more likely to have an advanced degree and 60 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs than are non-immigrants.

For Greater St. Louis to best compete in the global economy, the region is continually seeking out talent from outside the United States. With approximately 4,000 immigrants moving to the St. Louis region in a given year, both the public and private sector are committed to fully assisting new residents and connecting them with economic opportunities.

Launched in 2013, the St. Louis Mosaic Project has helped St. Louis become one of the fastest growing U.S. metro areas for immigration. The project works to coordinate and centralize community services for immigrants, serve as a liaison between the business and international communities and connect immigrants with faith-based resources.

Numerous St. Louis area organizations are working to make progress with economic inclusion. Top leaders of St. Louis’ largest private-sector employers are working to improve the quality of community and business life in the area. Organizations are developing and connecting diverse leaders and empowering citizens to work together to build a thriving and cooperative St. Louis community.

The governments of the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County have developed minority contracting requirements to try to help support minority- and women-run businesses. The county requires 24 percent minority-owned businesses and 9.5 percent women-owned businesses for construction contracts and 16 percent minority-owned businesses and 15 percent women-owned businesses for architecture and engineering contracts. There is also a 5 percent discount on bids for minority/woman owned businesses. The city set a goal of 25 percent certified minority-owned business participation and 5 percent certified women-owned business participation for contracts and purchases that involve city funds.

The Diverse Business Accelerator

The St. Louis Regional Chamber has started a new capacity building program for small to mid-sized minority and women owned businesses. The Diverse Business Accelerator is a three-month program for diverse business owners. The curriculum includes information and best practices on communications, marketing, relationship building, and growth.

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Forward Through Ferguson

Forward through Ferguson is an empowered, independent, and diverse group that is studying the underlying social and economic conditions underscored by the recent unrest in the region. They are working to fulfill the recommendations of the Ferguson commission to address inequality and injustice.

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