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The Foundations of Shared Prosperity: Community, Opportunity, and Growth

My upbringing in the foster care system profoundly shaped my understanding of people and the systemic forces that shape our lives. This background instilled in me a belief in the inherent goodness of people and highlighted the often-underestimated impact of systems on our paths. Through this experience, I learned that we all eventually face choices that propel us forward, despite systemic challenges. This insight is deeply connected to the concept of shared prosperity.

As a child, my grasp of shared prosperity was molded by witnessing local business dynamics and homeownership. I vividly remember my first encounter with a Black business owner—Mr. Weedon of Weeden’s Construction in Wellston, MO. He hired me one summer before my teenage years.  During my early years, I experienced a range of living situations, from precarious rentals and group homes to more stable environments. Having a sense of stability was crucial for me. These varied experiences sparked my curiosity about economic participation and its importance in community development.

Shared prosperity goes beyond politics; it is about fostering sustainable economic growth. I champion community vitality through accessible opportunities that enable market participation. This goes beyond mere charity or government aid; our focus should be on creating platforms that enhance commercial engagement. This includes fair earning potential, the option to purchase or rent safe homes, and support for entrepreneurial ventures. Success in these areas not only benefits individuals but also stimulates job creation, community development, and generates tax revenue to support public services.

The World Bank defines shared prosperity as the degree to which economic growth benefits all segments of society. Essentially, shared prosperity is about building economic bridges. As digitization becomes more prevalent, it is crucial to attract and develop opportunities in high-growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing and to prepare our workforce accordingly.

Often referred to as inclusive growth, shared prosperity is about expanding opportunities and ensuring success is based on individual effort. This approach entails investing in a workforce that is reflective of local communities, widening access to business opportunities for a varied range of entrepreneurs, and improving support and infrastructure to make our cities safer and more livable.

Final Thoughts

Shared prosperity is more than just an ideal; it is a practical strategy for achieving sustainable economic growth that includes everyone. By creating opportunities for all to participate in the market, we cultivate a sense of community and collective success. Having experienced the transformative power of opportunity first-hand, I am a firm believer in the potential of shared prosperity to elevate not only individuals but entire communities.

In our rapidly evolving world of business and technology, embracing shared prosperity is essential. As we navigate the complexities of the modern economy, let us remember that our true strength lies in our collective growth.

It Matters Where You Bank.

Originally published in the St. Louis Business Journals Ask The Expert Column on 7/5/2024 by Orv Kimbrough, Chairman and CEO.