[ Update ]
We organized a one day symposium on Job Creation Strategies in East St. Louis on Tuesday May 4th at the East St. Louis Center of the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. This symposium was attended by about 35 participants who represented various different groups including academics, community organizations, development professionals, and very importantly residents.
The symposium came together as part of an ongoing collaborative effort between ESLARP at the University of Illinois and the communities in East St. Louis. As part of this effort, faculty and students at the university have created a web-based urban systems analysis model, which can be directly accessed and used by the citizens of East St. Louis. This model predicts the impacts of business developments in East St. Louis. The impacts predicted include, employment, fiscal, sales and pollution impacts. This model is the beginning of an effort at ESLARP to make sophisticated urban models available to the citizen's of East St. Louis so that they can participate in public decision-making in a more informed manner.
Professor Kieran Donaghy explained the concept behind the model, which was followed by a demonstration by Raja Shankar, a research assistant with ESLARP. Edgar Flagg and Sarah Duffy, the other two research assistants on the project also explained different features of the project. The ESLARP presentation was followed by a brief presentation by East West Gateway Coordination Council on their job creation efforts.
The participants at the symposium discussed the new developments at Emerson Park, with a view to come up at strategies to shape such development in a way as to create many new jobs that can be taken by the residents of East St. Louis. Not only did they focus on what developments would generate more jobs, but they also discussed the types of jobs that are desirable, and what the community can do in terms of training programs to enable the residents to take up such jobs.
This discussion was aided by the Urban Systems Analysis Model [USAM]. The participants broke up into three groups, and came up with different strategies for development in Emerson Park. They used the model to show the different impacts of their development strategies.
The participants found the model to be useful and an important step in making such tools available to the people. At ESLARP, we have collected the feedback of the participants on the work done by us. This feedback will inform our future efforts.
One of the important issues brought out at the symposium was the importance of partnerships between the universities, community organizations and development agencies. This symposium took that collaboration a step forward. New possibilities for future joint work will be explored to tap the potentials of the different agencies.
Mr. Robert Giloth, who represented the Annie E. Casey Foundation that has funded this effort, in his closing remarks appreciated the usefulness of BIAM, and pointed to future work that needs to be done to develop communities in a sustainable manner. Earlier, Professor Richard Bush of SIUE, in his welcome address emphasized collaboration between different partners to achieve this development. Prof. Ken Reardon closed the symposium highlighting the importance of university-community interaction and said that ESLARP had come a long way in the past ten years. While the efforts of the university were viewed as an unwelcome intervention in the beginning, today, the University in the form of ESLARP is a welcome and important partner in the development of East St. Louis.
Document Author(s): Raja Shankar
Last modified: 06 May 1999, Deanna Koenigs