Managing Executive Archive

Managing Executive Message . . .

“Economic empowerment will prevent another Ferguson”
By Veta Jeffery

August 2019 marked five years post Ferguson; a time when we were forced to face the extreme differences and lack of collaborative efforts to bridge the gaps within our city, as it was displayed for the entire world to see. Ferguson forever changed the face of our city as many realized that we could no longer put off having the uncomfortable conversations and putting positive ideas into action for the betterment of all. This year brings with it a new opportunity for Saint Louisans to exhibit what we have learned in the aftermath of Ferguson.

So, what have we learned? How are we putting that knowledge into action? As the eyes of the world turn toward us, what will they see? It is important for us to not look the same. What have we done? What are we doing? How are we setting the tone for the next five years and beyond?

In 2018, I stated that we must be intentional in the message we deliver, embracing and taking pride in our differences instead of allowing those differences to erect walls between us. The whole of Saint Louis needs black Saint Louis to be economically prosperous.

Organizations like the Saint Louis Chapter of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce (HSBCC) will continue to help to empower our community by facilitating entrepreneurship and business growth that will promote a diverse and sustainable economy. Our moves must be precise, straightforward and inclusive.

HSBCC goals include: 1) Organizing the African-American business community, 2) Growing the pipeline of African-American entrepreneurs, 3) Connecting African-American businesses with the black community, and 5) Advancing racial equity in local and regional markets.

We can achieve these goals and more by working together—city, county, state and nation. 2019 is our chance to be great. From that moment in time and beyond, “Let’s Rise Together to be Great Together!”

St. Louisans have a chance to answer the call to be intentional and purposeful in the message they deliver. We must all embrace our differences and realize that to take pride in oneself does not mean that we have to despise, dislike or disapprove of one another.

Ultimately, it comes down to economic empowerment and upward mobility for all of our citizens. With organizations like the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce, our community can be empowered. Working together, we can facilitate entrepreneurship and business growth that promote a vibrant, diverse and sustainable local, regional and national economy.

Our efforts must be systemic, forthright and inclusive, if we are to succeed. The HSBCC has created a set of tenets that can be used as a springboard. The HSBCC is looking to: 1.) Organize the African-American business community, 2.) Grow the pipeline of African-American entrepreneurs, 3.) Connect African-American businesses with black consumers and other markets, 4.) Promote economic development within the black community, and lastly and certainly not least, 5.) Advance racial equity in local and regional markets.

Through collaboration between the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the State of Missouri, we can begin to sow the seeds of tolerance, and reap the respect, forgiveness and economic bounty we all deserve. Let’s travel the path once walked by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other great leaders, who envisioned a better tomorrow for our children, their children and the United States of America.