Why I’m Grateful to Live and Work in St. Charles County, 4th of July Edition


By Greg Prestemon, CEO

The holiday we just finished celebrating on the 4th of July—Independence Day—isn’t the one typically associated with writing up a list of things you’re thankful for. However, I live in an extremely patriotic community, and as I watched commercial-grade fireworks go off in neighborhoods around our county, I couldn’t help but think of some of the good things we have.

(Besides the concept of fire insurance. I’m as patriotic as anyone, but one day, more than just the fragile psyche of the dogs in our community is going to be damaged by these displays. Until then: America!)

This list is by no means comprehensive, and no blog post could capture everything I love about where I live, where I’ve made my career, and where I’ve raised my family. We are by no means a perfect community. No community is. However, we have some good things going for us, and on the week of the 4th of July I want to list just a few.

Here they are:

1. I live in a community that supports its dreamers.

From the tenants of the EDC and OPO startup facilities to the participants in our financing programs, there are multiple examples of entrepreneurs who’ve turned their dreams into reality in St. Charles County. One of the reasons for that success is the culture of support we have here. Our cities and county believe in the mission of EDC, and they have continued to support our organization over the years. Local leaders and established entrepreneurs have also provided their support and vision through their service on the EDC board, their membership in the Partners group, and their financial support of county-wide initiatives—most notably support for our 15-year effort to create a STEM culture.

Collectively, this support has created a launching pad for multiple entrepreneurs and successful startups. Not every community has the resources, willingness, or leadership to create this sort of entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Mine does, and for that, I’m grateful.

2. There are young people trying to change the world for the better.

Right now, pessimism is almost as easy to find as obsessive news coverage of tweets. If you need an antidote for pessimism, read the EDC blog. There we’ve covered young people working with the St. Charles County bomb squad to create an Easter egg hunt for the blind using special technology, our STEM award winners from local high schools, a fast-growing cricket program full of motivated young people, and a young college student who has started a successful translation business in the basement of OPO Startups.

These are just a tiny fraction of the examples of young people doing great things in our county. In every community in the country, there are countless examples of young leaders and entrepreneurs who haven’t gotten the memo that the world is ending.

I’m grateful for them—and I think we should follow their lead.

3. Every day comes with the potential to reinvent yourself.

The way we celebrate our independence on the 4th of July is obviously a distinctly American tradition.

So is reinvention—and despite everything else that has changed or is changing about America, reinvention remains a tradition. For almost 25 years I’ve worked in a building full of entrepreneurs living that tradition.

No matter what else you read or hear, that tradition is still alive and well.

And for that I am grateful.