Civic Progress is an organization of CEOs and top executives from the St. Louis region’s largest private sector employers who are working to improve the quality of community and business life for all the residents of the bi-state metropolitan area. We believe St. Louis is a great place to live and work – and it offers wonderful educational and recreational opportunities. At the same time, we recognize there are a variety of challenges facing our region that deserve our collective attention as business leaders.
As part of our mission to improve the quality of community and business life in the St. Louis region, Civic Progress focuses its resources and energy on issues that our members believe are essential to being a world-class region. Our current areas of interest focus on: CityArchRiver 2015, Education, City-County Collaboration, and Strengthening the Region. In addition, Civic Progress and its members play a role in advancing a range of in collaboration with other organizations.
President, Civic Progress
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Monsanto
A view of the Old Courthouse from the new west-facing entrance to the museum under the Arch. ©CityArchRiver
The Gateway Arch is one of the world’s most recognizable monuments and the iconic symbol of the St. Louis region. The CityArchRiver 2015 project is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime initiative to transform the museum and grounds of the Gateway Arch into a new and more engaging experience for visitors and residents. The redesigned Arch grounds will better connect the Arch to the East and West riverfronts and to downtown St. Louis. The goal is to complete a major portion of the project in time for the Arch’s 50th anniversary on October 28, 2015.
Civic Progress is proud to a founding member and leading supporter of CityArchRiver 2015. We see CityArchRiver 2015 as an innovative public-private partnership that will be a catalyst for a dynamic and lasting rebirth of downtown St. Louis. Our organization and our members’ companies helped underwrite the project’s startup costs and the international design competition in 2009-2010. We have played a lead role in securing public and private funding to implement the design vision and have collaborated closely CityArchRiver 2015, the National Park Service, Great Rivers Greenway, and the region’s political, business and civic leaders to move this initiative forward.
In 2012, the Civic Progress Action Committee worked with the Missouri General Assembly to pass legislation allowing local votes on levying a regional 3/16th of one-cent sales tax to help fund the revamp of the Gateway Arch grounds, as well as bolster funding for the region’s bike trails (through Great Rivers Greenway) and for local and county parks. The Civic Progress Action Committee supported the campaign that resulted in St. Louis City and St. Louis County voters approving Proposition P (The Safe and Accessible Arch and Public Parks Initiative) in April 2013.
Civic Progress members are now leading the private fundraising effort which seeks to raise $225 million through local, regional and national donor outreach. Civic Progress members and their companies have committed to raise $100 million – nearly half of this private funding goal.
Civic Progress has worked to support and improve urban education in the region since its founding. ©Paul Sableman
Access to quality education for all our citizens and improving the skills and education attainment levels of our working-age population are vital to the future of the St. Louis region. Good schools help attract and keep families in our communities. Well-educated students are better prepared to join the workforce or go on to technical schools or college and to become productive members of society.
To help achieve these objectives, Civic Progress has put a special focus on providing support for leadership development and training programs for principals and teachers of St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS). Civic Progress, with the Regional Business Council, is also funding a national search for experienced urban principals for SLPS. We support the work of the Special Administrative Board and the superintendent of SLPS to raise academic standards and provide prudent fiscal management for the city’s school district. We have worked collaboratively with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on various initiatives related to urban education.
Civic Progress is also providing support to initiatives like the ABC Today program offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri to improve education outcomes for at-risk children. We are also providing catalyst funding to St. Louis Graduates, a collaborative network of organizations working to increase the proportion of low-income students in the St. Louis region who earn a post-secondary degree.
Civic Progress and its members’ companies support the introduction of non-traditional educational resources and alternatives to traditional public schools when such organizations have track records of success. For example, Civic Progress and several members’ companies support the placement of Teach for America participants in St. Louis area schools. We also supported the establishment of KIPP Inspire Academy in 2009, the first Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) public charter school in the St. Louis area.
Civic Progress recognizes the vital role our universities play in the region’s economy. The chancellor of Washington University is a member of Civic Progress, and the leaders of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville serve as ex officio members. We are also exploring ways to partner with the St. Louis Community College to strengthen education and technical training essential for today’s skilled workforce opportunities.
Collaboration has made possible a growing network of recreational trails and preserved green space in the St. Louis region. ©Great Rivers Greenway
The St. Louis region has long been known for its fragmented approach to local governance and public services. St. Louis City and County have 116 local governments, which includes 91 municipalities and 23 fire protection districts in St. Louis County. The cost of funding all 116 local governments is estimated at $2 billion per year. Research by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments has found that the St. Louis metro area consistently ranks toward the top on number of local government units in total and per capita.
Civic Progress believes that every tax dollar not spent on redundant services is a dollar available for innovative services, economic development, or cost savings. We support efforts, like Better Together, that are seeking to identify areas where duplicative services could be merged to more efficiently use taxpayer dollars and maintain quality services for all residents.
Civic Progress is also providing financial support to the 24:1 Initiative, an innovative effort in north St. Louis County to help solve the serious challenges facing municipalities within the geographic boundaries of the Normandy School District. We are also helping underwrite the work of the St. Louis Initiative to Reduce Violence (SIRV), a grassroots effort involving community leaders, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, schools and non-profit organizations which is seeking to reduce crime and gang activity in the St. Louis region, with a special focus on Jennings (North County) and Walnut Park (North City). SIRV aims to change lives by empowering communities and individuals to take a stand against violence, and to encourage positive conflict resolution.
Civic Progress applauds the decision by St. Louis City and St. Louis County in February 2013 to have their separate economic development agencies join forces to create the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
We also support initiatives by the police departments in St. Louis City and St. Louis County to merge certain services, such as the bomb and arson units, and to improve cross-jurisdictional cooperation. These are positive steps that enhance the delivery of government services for both jurisdictions – and serve as case studies for other St. Louis area municipalities to consider.
Development of the Cortex District is an initiative that Civic Progress supports to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the St. Louis region. ©Paul Sableman
Promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, encouraging immigration to St. Louis area, attracting and retaining young people, and creating thriving neighborhoods are issues that are important to the economic growth and vitality of the region.
Civic Progress is exploring ways to support and encourage entrepreneurial startups in the region. Civic Progress has supported Innovate St. Louis, the non-profit organization that has assisted more than 460 startups since its establishment in 2007. We also are exploring ways to build on the progress made in creating successful business and neighborhood ecosytems, like the T-REX downtown business incubator space, and the Cortex Innovation Community.
Civic Progress is supporting Build for STL and its 2014 “National Day of Civic Hacking” that takes place May 30 to June 1. This is a weekend-long gathering of IT programmers, designers and builders who will compete by creating an application or other output that aims to use science and technology to solve civic problems in the St. Louis and the region. St. Louis is rapidly attracting the attention of Code for America, SecondMuse and other organizations involved in the civic technology movement, and Civic Progress is pleased to support the regional effort.
Civic Progress also supports the efforts of the St. Louis Mosaic Project to encourage immigration to St. Louis and foster a welcoming and inclusive community. Civic Progress members are especially interested in attracting foreign-born professionals to help bolster talent resources in the region. Civic Progress members’ companies also support the Regional Business Council’s Young Professional Network, whose mission is to attract and retain young, ethnically diverse professionals to the St. Louis region and to give these future leaders unique opportunities for networking, professional development and community involvement.
Lambert Airport ©Martijn van Exel
Civic Progress closely monitors and engages with other organizations on a wide range of other issues affecting the St. Louis region. These issues include:
- Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Civic Progress has provided funding for business development efforts by Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to sustain existing airline service and add new capacity. In addition, Civic Progress along with the Regional Business Council have funded Lambert Airport’s participation in on-going customer experience surveys conducted by the Airport Council International. Lambert’s management team uses the survey findings to help guide improvements in areas most important to airline passengers.
- Diversity and Inclusion. Civic Progress and its members are committed to making St. Louis a welcoming and inclusive community. We have been leaders in efforts to reduce racial barriers and make St. Louis a welcoming and diverse region for economic opportunity. Civic Progress helped launch the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative in 2001 and several of our members’ companies are participants in the Initiative’s Fellows leadership development program. This collaborative effort helps companies in the St. Louis region attract and retain a talented, diverse workforce and develop a diverse supplier base.
- Civic Progress was also a founder of the St. Louis Minority Business Council more than 40 years ago and continues to support that organization’s mission to ensure a diverse supplier community as part of the region’s economy.