Since April 2018, Imagine St. Joseph 2040 – launched by the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Greater St. Joseph – has engaged more than 1,000 residents who’ve donated almost 2,000 hours to help our community identify its most critical trends and plausible futures.
The outcome of this effort has led us to a plan with the focus of Invest in People, Create a Better Place and Grow Prosperity. The plan itself is action oriented, builds on our community’s strong history of working together and aligns us around ambitious, yet achievable goals that will make St. Joseph a place that people want to be a part of.Get Involved
Our greatest return-on-investment comes from investing in our people. Ensuring that all children are ready to learn, as well as investing in state-of-the-art K-16 education, will cultivate a dynamic next-generation workforce. Providing two-year degrees and certificate programs, as well as four-year and graduate degrees, will enable current and future workers to retool and be prepared for new economy jobs. We will face poverty head-on by addressing the root causes, not just the symptoms. Whether it’s the issue of poverty, mental health or addiction, we will make sure resources and systems are in place that encourage all residents to reach their full potential. Investing in people now, will reap benefits in our future.View Goals
In great cities, visitors and residents feel “there’s something exciting going on.” Filling our downtown storefronts, connecting downtown to the riverfront, creating green space and meeting space for festivals and conferences, attracting visitors and residents to a place that defines the heart of St. Joseph. It also means taking pride in what we have, restoring the grandeur of our older neighborhoods, keeping people safe and being willing to invest in new infrastructure and amenities that create a place that attracts and retains people. We will create a place where people choose to be and want to stay.View Goals
Successful cities are prosperous. Residents enjoy a quality of life that comes with good paying jobs and meaningful careers. Prosperity does not just happen, it takes collaboration and leadership. It takes the belief that we can make a difference and that each of us is part of something bigger than ourselves. Vision, leadership and focus will lead us to a prosperous future, but only if we are willing to be better and constantly innovate.View Goals
"Planning for the future is imperative in order for us to have a bright, positive St. Joseph for future generations! We need to consistently be finding ways to improve our community & bringing people together to do so is very beneficial. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail."
- Austin Evans, owner Fit Republic St. Joseph & Lean Kitchen Compan
It’s 2040 and St. Joseph has emerged as one of the Midwest’s most exciting communities. We attract young families with award-winning schools, affordable cost of living and quality amenities. Young professionals and entrepreneurs appreciate St. Joseph’s dynamic blend of unique history, interesting people and inspiring places. We retain residents too; our children and our grandchildren find value and opportunity in St. Joseph and want to stay and be part of the future. And to underscore our affordable cost of living, nationally-recognized health care and quality of life, St. Joseph is considered one of the best communities in the Midwest for retirees.
St. Joseph attracts visitors, from Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, and beyond. Our guests come to stroll our downtown shops and galleries, play along our riverfront, enjoy entertainment at our unique venues, enjoy our Parkway System and participate in our diverse festivals. They relish in the historic architecture and enjoy our uncommon amenities that truly sets St. Joseph apart.
Despite our growth – St. Joseph eclipsed the 100,000 population mark a few years back – the community still has that thing that everyone was talking about back in 2018, Uncommon Character. We still have rabble rousers who keep us honest and test our mettle, but we also have that “special something” that everyone wants in a community, a sense of belonging. Whether you’re a townie who has lived in St. Joseph most of your life, or a transplant looking to make your mark in one of our high-tech manufacturing companies or simply looking for the best place to raise a family, St. Joseph’s spirit of inclusion, entrepreneurism and collaboration is everywhere. Wherever you are in St. Joseph, or whoever you are, you are a part of something special. In St. Joseph, everyone belongs, and everyone makes a difference.
It’s 2040. St. Joseph has become that place that people are attracted to, want to be a part of and choose to stay.
To reach our future vision, we must be forward-looking and ambitious. This future is possible. To effectively execute the strategy, we must begin by investing in our people, making meaningful efforts to make our community better, and be a place that attracts people and business, leading to greater prosperity. But it is also a place that holds each other – new leaders, established leaders, and those with great ideas – accountable for attacking big issues with vision, determination and ambition. The following path to our future will set the course for success and enable us to meet whatever headwinds come our way.
St. Joseph’s history has always been about making the most of the conditions that surrounded us – about being opportunistic and hard working.
This plan was fueled by that same spirit of being persistent, determined and willing to face our challenges together. We know that prosperity tends to flow to places that stand out, are unique and that people want to be a part of. That means we must commit ourselves to pursuing a better community.
Today, we have new opportunities – Kansas City, Omaha and Des Moines are all expected to grow to a million or more people by 2030 and we continue to occupy an important and critical role in the Midwest’s – and the world’s – agribusiness, manufacturing and animal health sectors.
But the rules are also different this time around. It’s harder to go it alone. We need each other. That’s why when we talk about prosperity and success we talk about leadership, collaboration and inclusion. It begins with all of us coming together, to share our vision, to clear new ground and create our own opportunities. Whether it’s venture capital agribusiness startups, residents who are willing to invest in the future of St. Joseph’s students or a new urban homesteader investing in an older neighborhood and restoring a historic home, each in their own way are investing in our people and re-creating a vibrant community.
Our history is clear: when the people of St. Joseph have an opportunity, we seize it. What will St. Joseph be in 2040? It depends on us. It depends on you. What will you do to make St. Joseph better place?
The principles noted below serve as a guide to Imagine St. Joseph 2040. They will serve to inspire our work and provide focus to our goals. Agreeing to these principles gives us the flexibility in our tactics, while ensuring we’re faithful to the vision.
Principle 1: Future Facing
Rationale: When choosing which opportunities to pursue, we will ask, “How does this align with our vision for Invest in People, Create a Better Place and Grow Prosperity”? We can do many things, but we must choose to do things that will have the most impact toward our vision.
Principle 2: Grow the pie, don’t cut the pie
Rationale: Successful cities prioritize the best interests of the community over any individual or entity. The principle is to grow the pie (unite) rather than cut the pie (divide).
Principle 3: Powerful partnerships
Rationale: Our future is dependent on working beyond silos. Imagine St. Joseph 2040, was born out of a unique partnership between the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Greater St. Joseph. New and unconventional partnerships – working in new ways – will be required to bring this vision to life.
Principle 4: Every life is of equal value
Rationale: St. Joseph’s future requires each person reaching his or her full potential. This is why we want to end generational poverty, improve our educational outcomes, raise the standard of living for all and promote inclusion in St. Joseph.
Principle 5: Experimentation and readiness
Rationale: If we want different results, we must take risks, prototype quickly, and work in new ways with different partners. We must be the change we want to see throughout our community and be prepared to take decisive action when opportunity presents itself.
"In this competitive world, a community and its leadership must be willing to take on the difficult issues, understand and embrace the need for change and make the effort to be better. Doing the same thing will only keep us in the same place."
- R. Patt Lilly, President & CEO, St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce
The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Greater St. Joseph are leading the way with residents to imagine and plan for our city's future.