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Economic growth and globalization and their effect on racial equity are topics for Jan. 27th Central Library event

The global economy is no longer some vague concept on the horizon. It is as real as Americans buying jeans made in Mexico, running shoes from Viet Nam, and televisions, computers, and cell phones manufactured in Asia.

The globalization of commerce extends beyond personal decisions about what to buy, and where it was made. It extends to news coverage of the stock market and monetary fluctuations in China and the European Union, with the implication that changes abroad have real effects stateside. Globalization is here, and it is intensifying.

What does this mean for St. Louis, and what effect will it have on racial equity challenges the region already faces?

Those questions and others will be addressed during “Economic Growth & Racial Equity: How Can St. Louis Compete in the Global Economy?” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the Central Library, 1301 Olive St. Presenters and panelists from Washington University, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Madison County, and Employment Connections will discuss the region’s ability to compete in the world economy and how the opportunities in the new economy migiht be shared by all.

From the deindustrialization that began in the 1970s to the Great Recession in the last decade, changes in global markets have threatened the competitive position of the region, while exacerbating existing racial disparities. Growth industries such as freight and biotechnology offer new hope for prosperity, while improvements in education and training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are needed to provide equity in job opportunity for all races and socioeconomic classes.
Panelists will explain and explore the complex interaction of workforce development, regional competitiveness, and racial equity.

William Tate, the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, will discuss his research on the “geography of opportunity” which relates to how poverty and place affect educational outcomes and employment. Tate, who also is the dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, has researched the importance of scientific education of African-Americans and how it needs to be upgraded to prevent a widening racial disparity in jobs and income.

John Posey, director of research at East-West Gateway, will present his work related to the recent publication of Where We Stand: The Strategic Assessment of the St. Louis Region which provides data on how St. Louis compares to other regions. In that publication, Posey documented how African-Americans in the St. Louis region were disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of the Great Recession that began in 2007. Prior de-industrialization trends also adversely affected African-Americans.

Ruth Sergenian, director of Economic Research and Analysis for the St. Louis Regional Chamber, will discuss her recent essay from the latest edition of St. Louis Currents on the St. Louis economy after the Great Recession.

Brenda Mahr is the chief executive officer of the Employment Connection, a position she has held for 26 years. Employment Connection began as a non-profit corporation intended to find employment for former prison inmates. It has grown to provide that service for other adults who have limited opportunities for job placement.

David Stoecklin, executive director of the employment and training for Madison County, also is a panelist.

The presentation of recent research and panel discussion of possible strategies is sponsored by East-West Gateway Council of Governments, FOCUS St. Louis, the School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Missouri St. Louis, and the St. Louis Public Library.

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