“Don’t forget to focus on the high-paying trades, educating youth on the community value and wealth-creating benefits of these careers.”
Economic Justice Survey
Invest in an ecosystem that provides opportunities for businesses to launch, grow, and sustain their operations. Create the workforce of the future through mentorship, training, and quality jobs.
Increasing St. Louisans’ economic agency requires a multi-pronged strategy that combines workforce development, business empowerment, and educational justice. These build capacity for young people, for those who are unemployed or underemployed, for people seeking growth in their careers, and for entrepreneurs in the community. Investing in economic empowerment makes the city an attractive place to start new businesses and bring quality jobs. An ecosystem that supports economic growth and resilience offers the chance for learning and mentorship, accessing capital and technical assistance, and engaging in networking. This is particularly true among minority and women-owned enterprises, as well as other under-served residents and borrowers in the community.
SLDC can build on existing efforts to promote economic justice by targeting these three key areas of focus: workforce, business, and educational empowerment. The organization is poised to form new partnerships and facilitate programs that build up workforce development opportunities and effectively leverage incentives. They should streamline efforts to provide resources and capital to small businesses and ensure a spectrum of financing is available to firms as they launch, grow, and sustain their businesses long-term. Educational justice ensures a strong future for the city, investing resources in the youth so that they see possibilities for them as residents of St. Louis.
SMALL BUSINESS EMPOWERMENT & SUPPORT
Build a World-Class Small / Women / Minority-Owned Business Ecosystem
Establish an Economic Empowerment Center (EEC) in the City of St. Louis to support and provide resources to small business ecosystem
Leverage existing technical assistance programs to assist small, minority, and woman-owned businesses (S/W/MBEs) with certification, licensing, tax support, marketing, legal, and other professional services.
Create a robust network of small business lending and grant offerings to support businesses and economic development efforts.
Work with community partners to offer a community-based real estate program to provide M/WBE developers with access to capital, technical assistance, and mentorship to ensure buildings are redeveloped for and by neighborhood residents/businesses.
Train & Connect Workforce to Quality Jobs
Expand the training, accreditation and apprenticeship pipeline, focusing on healthcare professionals, education professionals, transportation and logistics, advanced manufacturing, and the geospatial industry.
Form strategic partnerships with major employers and educational institutions in the St. Louis region to win federal grants and facilitate job connections for our residents
Focus on the expansion of commercial and industrial development in employment centers to bring livable-wage jobs to the City of St. Louis.
Expand Access to Quality Education and Economic Opportunity for All Ages
Partner with SLATE, St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS), and St. Louis Youth Jobs to build a year-round youth-to-jobs program.
Promote educational institutions as community anchors by protecting and strengthening schools located in EJI-1 and EJI-2 areas and creating a plan for reuse of schools that are identified for possible closure by SLPS
Invest in adult education and literacy, including technology training and digital literacy programs to enable participation in the 21st-century economy and help bridge the digital divide.
Acquire and facilitate the redevelopment of unoccupied school buildings for the economic advancement of historically under-invested residents, businesses, and neighborhoods.
Outcomes & Impact
The following outputs/impacts are aligned with ARPA funding through 2026.
SMALL BUSINESS EMPOWERMENT & SUPPORT
Serve 1,000 individuals at the EEC per year
Help 150 new minority-owned businesses secure business licenses.
Offer at least 30 workshops at the EEC per year.
Provide gap funding to 25 businesses through the revolving loan fund.
Create a robust network of at least 10 minority developers in the City of St. Louis.
Connect 500 city residents to new training and job-skill development opportunities.
Provide internet access to 1,000 residents in the City of St. Louis at the Economic Empowerment Center.
Reuse at least 2 unoccupied (recently or long-term) schools as new community resources.
Present training and educational opportunities to every SLPS high school annually.
Offer a year round financial and digital literacy program at the ECC each year.