St. Louis leaders announce variety of new funds to promote economic justice
St. Louis leaders announced a series of funds and initiatives Tuesday to support economic development among historically marginalized communities.
One is the Economic Justice Accelerator Fund, which will combine private donations from companies with philanthropic funding and money from the American Rescue Plan and other public sources. The intention is to create economic mobility and opportunity in St. Louis.
At an event celebrating 314 Day, Mayor Tishaura Jones said this is the next phase in her ongoing economic justice plan, which seeks to reverse decades of disinvestment in primarily Black and brown communities in St. Louis.
“This is a team effort, and government cannot shoulder this burden alone,” Jones said. “When done in collaboration with our philanthropic, civic and private-sector partners, when our visions and actions align, we can truly make a long-lasting difference for generations to come.”
A representative from Mastercard announced an initial $1 million investment in the fund, the first from a private source. The money will be spent on support for small businesses through the Northside Economic Empowerment Center, which is housed at Sumner High School and launched earlier this year. The center provides technical assistance, mentorship and investment for women- and minority-owned businesses.
Jones spoke about ways the city is tied together, saying St. Louis cannot thrive if half of its residents are left to fail. The mayor’s office announced other new funds and grant programs that are part of the economic justice initiative. They include money for neighborhood beautification, down payment assistance for low-income homebuyers and efforts to develop uninhabited properties.
Many of these efforts will be paid for by federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat who represents parts of St. Louis, took the opportunity to celebrate the $490 million in funding the legislation brought to the city.
“We are still seeing the massive and life-changing impact that this funding continues to have on our communities, from the $1,400 stimulus checks to PPP loans for small businesses to funding our schools, child care programs, community health centers and economic grant opportunities like what we're seeing and celebrating here today,” Bush said. “This funding is saving, and it's improving lives. And that's our work.”