St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones on Thursday appointed Neal Richardson as the new executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation.
Richardson will take up his post at the end of the month, replacing longtime director Otis Williams, who announced his intention to retire last year.
Jones touted Richardson’s credentials in a statement, highlighting his 14 years of experience in community and economic development.
“Neal Richardson understands that fair development is more than brick and mortar. From leading the US Bank Business Impact Group to his work as President of Dream Builders 4 Equity, I know Neal will encourage forward-thinking holistic development that opens up opportunities for families in our city. She said.
Richardson said his vision for the department focuses on economic justice – “which truly addresses historic barriers, economic inequality and bridging the racial wealth gap, and creates opportunities for everyone to participate in the system. of our region, “he said. “This is how we grow together in a stronger and more strategic way.”
He said the focus should be on revitalizing neighborhoods in northern St. Louis, which have been overlooked by developers for decades. The job is personal for Richardson, who grew up in the Lewis Place neighborhood just north of Delmar Boulevard and the Central West End.
Over the past four years he has builds a territorial model for equitable development through an organization he co-founded, Dream Builders 4 Equity. The association works with community groups to identify and rehabilitate dilapidated homes in distressed neighborhoods, including Hyde Park. It also provides jobs for minority entrepreneurs and young people.
Richardson said his vision for economic development has the potential to radically transform the lives of people in neighborhoods most in need of investment.
“When you invest in wealth creation opportunities for our youth and for our underserved communities, you will have a reduction in crime because you are creating opportunities for people to really think about their future and not care about surviving. every day, ”he said. noted. “We need to create an environment of a flourishing mentality, rather than just surviving to see it the next day.”
Richardson said he planned to use the Equitable economic development framework recently developed by the St. Louis Development Corporation as a starting point.
He said there are many strategies that could be implemented, but he wants to focus on using the framework to create a new action plan around four priorities:
- Fair and inclusive real estate development.
- Revitalization of the neighborhood.
- Empowerment of businesses.
- Workforce development.
Richardson said his biggest challenge will be bringing together politicians, business owners and residents from across the region to work towards a common vision.
“But to do that, we have to do it with a focus on economic justice and removing historic obstacles and loopholes that have kept everyone from sitting at the table,” he said.
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