The Program That Can Change the Missouri Economy—Regardless of Who Wins the Election

by Greg Prestemon

In St. Charles County, and in the greater St. Louis region, we are blessed with some of the finest higher education institutions in the country. For example, Lindenwood University is one of the fastest-growing and most-innovative colleges in the country, and Washington University in St. Louis is one of the country’s most-prestigious and selective universities.

The list doesn’t stop there: Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri-Saint Louis (UMSL), Maryville University, St. Charles Community College, and other schools are part of a list of institutions that is literally too long to include in this article.

But here’s the truth: not everyone wants to go to college.

Here’s another truth: that’s completely okay.

And for job seekers who don’t have or want a college degree, there is good news:

Employers in St. Charles County and throughout the region have a need for skilled employees who can demonstrate that they have the skills needed to do the job.

And job seekers can gain a credential demonstrating job readiness through the Certified Work Ready Communities Program, currently being implemented here at the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners.

That’s the good news for job seekers.

The good news for employers is that the credential earned via the program helps hiring managers determine whether an applicant has the skillset their company requires.

I’ve worked in economic development for practically my entire career, so I know what you’re saying: “That’s just what my company needed. Another government workforce program.” And you’re saying it with a sarcastic tone, and you’ve got the same expression Robert Downey Jr. has in this meme. Except this program is different.

(Seriously, it is.)

The Certified Work Ready Communities Program helps employers assess an applicant’s aptitude in Applied Math, Information Location, and Reading Comprehension. Employers get the employees with the skillsets they need, and employees gain a credential that could help them move from earning the minimum wage to the type of job that makes supporting a family and living an economically secure life a realistic goal.

Using the Certified Work Ready Communities Program, we can start to solve some of our workforce-related challenges—and build the type of economy that creates opportunities for the people who call our communities home.

And we can start to do that from the bottom up, because here is yet another truth:

Whoever wins the election this week will not solve our problems or make the most of the opportunities we have in front of us.


Because building a strong economy starts from the bottom up, at the local level, rather than from the top down, at the federal level.

But we need buy-in from all stakeholders to make that happen.

So, if you are an employer, please support the Certified Work Ready Communities Program. If you know anyone who could benefit from having the credential, tell them about it.

And if you want to learn more, contact Christine Zika, the EDC’s Director of Business Development, at 636-229-5277.

Go ahead and learn more about the program—then get engaged.

And help us continue building the economy our communities deserve.

Greg Prestemon is President and CEO of the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners.