In April I was honored to be in Washington DC to present the International Economic Development Council’s 2017 Federal Leadership in Economic Development Award to Patrick O’Brien, the director of the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) at the US Department of Defense.
Patrick and his team at OEA were vital to St. Louis’ efforts to recover from the effects of defense downsizing in the 1990’s primarily at McDonnell-Douglas (now Boeing) when we lost nearly 60,000 jobs in that industry in just a few years.
OEA provided timely and much needed technical and financial support of our regional efforts which I was privileged to lead. From those efforts, we were able to train laid off workers for new jobs, help some of them start new businesses, establish a critical technologies initiative and expand our international trade efforts.
World Trade Center St. Louis, Talisen Technologies and Cortex’s Center for Emerging Technologies now CIC- STL are part of the legacy of the St. Louis Defense Adjustment Program and are a vital part of the regional economy today. Participants get the facts about the economic situation. It’s been our experience that innovative partnerships and a collaboratively formulated, shared strategy are perhaps the most effective way to leverage opportunities to grow our economy or reposition it in response to radical change. And we know they are critical for securing the public and private investment needed to position our regional economy for the future.
I am very proud that OEA still uses our St. Louis program as a model for other communities around the country.
On behalf of CEDS, congratulations to Patrick and his staff for this prestigious award.