TechSTL, the newest tech council in the country, and the first to launch on the other side of the pandemic and civil unrest of 2020, seeks to boldly redefine the convergence of community and innovation. Preparing to open its doors to members on April 15, TechSTL’s leadership team has released its ambitious goals as a pledge to the people of St. Louis.
“The early success of Greater St. Louis, Inc. proves that focused collaboration can move mountains,” stated Emily Hemingway, executive director of TechSTL. “Inclusive innovation has never been more relevant than it is today. We need more talent. We need more startups. And this work must be a top priority.”
Springing from a 2021 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant awarded to St. Louis Development Corporation, TechSTL has a fundamentally different approach from their tech council counterparts. It launched under the leadership of a municipality and during a modern call for a change in economic justice.
“A mandate for diversity in the workforce must be more than a talking point. It must be an urgent call to action, beginning with education,” explains TechSTL board member, Dr. Stacy Hollins, Dean of the Anheuser-Busch School of Business at Harris-Stowe State University. Hollins further stated: “Technology is uniquely positioned to answer the call. When we bridge the digital divide as a community and actively support digital literacy, we will naturally strengthen and diversify our talent pipeline for both jobseekers and entrepreneurs.”
Computer Science and IT career pathways are highly effective when it comes to offering opportunities for upward mobility, especially for underserved communities. Board member Tony Bryan, who is also executive director of CyberUp shared: “We have more demand in the tech workforce than we can fill right now. There are over 7,500 open jobs in cybersecurity today in St. Louis. These positions are more ‘pandemic resilient,’ and through an apprenticeship model, they require less time to get trained for a new career.”
After three months of intensive investigation, including steering committee meetings, hundreds of hours of conversations with key stakeholders from across the bi-state region, and economic data analysis of the technology clusters arms, the organization has released their “5×5 Goals” for the region. These goals reflect the imperative priorities for driving the council over the next five years. They will also demonstrate a steadfast commitment to improving the health of the innovation pipeline for the people of St. Louis.
TechSTL’s “5×5 Goals” aim to, by 2027:
- Double the St. Louis metro’s tech workforce from 75,000 to 150,000.
- Increase diversity to 50% of the tech workforce.
- Grow the tech talent pipeline fivefold through scaling STEM education, credentialing, apprenticeships, and reskilling/upskilling.
- Support the growth of 500 new tech startups.
- Launch a $20 million “Founders Fund” to provide early seed-stage capital to 20+ startups a year.
Added Hemingway, “With more than 45,000 regional tech jobs currently open and tech startup formation on the rise, the demand is critical.”
Board president Brian Matthews, co-founder and general manager of Cultivation Capital said: “For St. Louis to become a global leader in emerging technologies, we need to take smart, collaborative action right now. Our work with TechSTL bridges the social capital, financial resources, and digital infrastructure needed to rapidly scale efforts and elevate successes. Our goals were intentionally drafted to reflect those key priorities and we are eager to hit the ground running.”
Modeling the core value of inclusivity in innovation, TechSTL is democratizing membership to build the largest, most diverse, and strongest tech council in North America. Expecting to confirm 1000 members by the end of 2022, the Board of Directors is also looking for up to 250 community stakeholders who want to serve on the council. They will award stakeholder memberships on a rolling basis regardless of their financial means.
To find more information about TechSTL and to apply for council membership, you can visit www.techstl.com