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GeoFutures Marks One-Year Anniversary of Release of Strategic Roadmap for St. Louis’ Geospatial Sector

Local geospatial ecosystem has acted quickly on strategic priorities and initiatives designed to make St. Louis the world’s geospatial hub in the next decade
June 23, 2021
GeoFutures - The Future of Geospatial is STLMade

“St. Louis is becoming the geospatial technical hub not only of the nation, but of the world” – NGA Director VADM Robert Sharp

Marking the one-year anniversary of the release of its Strategic Roadmap to make St. Louis the global center for geospatial excellence, GeoFutures announced that the local geospatial ecosystem has already acted on many of the plan’s strategic priorities and initiatives.

“St. Louis’ geospatial sector is growing rapidly, sending a signal to the rest of the country and the world that this is where the future of geospatial technology is headed,” said Andy Dearing, GeoFutures Project Lead. “We set out an ambitious course of action to move our geospatial sector forward, and St. Louis’ geospatial community has already stepped up and taken action on many of the critical priorities we set forth in the Strategic Roadmap we released last year. There is still a lot of work to do, but we are off to a great start.”

The Strategic Roadmap has helped guide rapid and dynamic growth in St. Louis’ geospatial ecosystem, leading National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Vice Admiral Robert Sharp to state:

“There is a lot of innovation going on in St. Louis. You need to see what we have going on out there. St. Louis is becoming the geospatial technical hub not only of the nation, but of the world.” (October 21, 2020; NGA official Twitter account)

GeoFutures, an initiative of Greater St. Louis, Inc., was launched in October 2019 to bolster the St. Louis region’s rapidly growing geospatial sector and develop a strategic plan for the future. On June 23 of last year, GeoFutures released its Strategic Roadmap, which laid out several strategic priorities as well as a set of signature initiatives to help strengthen and grow the region’s geospatial sector and to leverage existing strengths and generate greater prosperity and inclusive growth in the community.

The Strategic Roadmap was developed under the guidance of a broad and diverse advisory committee comprised of nearly 30 leaders from the region’s public, business, civic, and academic sectors and through a process of extensive stakeholder engagement

“We knew that this could not be a plan that just sat on the shelf, collecting dust. It had to be focused and actionable to ensure the geospatial sector could move quickly to implement it,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc. “What we’ve seen is more than we could have imagined, with businesses, institutions, investors, and leaders from across the metro stepping up to meet the challenge.”

The GeoFutures Strategic Roadmap outlined five strategic priority areas and three signature initiatives designed to strengthen and advance the region’s geospatial sector.

Strategic Priorities:

– Scale up talent and workforce development to meet geospatial industry demand.

– Raise innovation capacity for advanced applications for leading industry and community development drivers.

– Accelerate entrepreneurship and availability of risk capital.

– Support the advancement of community-driven development in the neighborhoods north of Downtown the new NGA West campus will soon call home.

– Brand and position St. Louis as a global thought leader in geospatial technology.

Signature Initiatives included the establishment of the GeoFutures Coalition to guide implementation of the Roadmap and ensure its commitment to racial equity and inclusive growth, GeoFutures Talent Initiative to support education and workforce development efforts, and the GeoFutures Innovation Collaborative to promote entrepreneurship.

Strategic Roadmap priorities and initiatives that have been acted upon in the past year include:

Scaling up talent and workforce development & Establishing a Talent Initiative:

NGA and Harris-Stowe State University partner to train STEM educators

UMSL launches geospatial accelerator at T-REX

SLU program to train NGA and Department of Defense employees

Maxar partnership with Harris-Stowe, diverse workforce commitment

Leidos partnership with Gateway Global on its “Entry to Executive” program

Raising innovation capacity, accelerating entrepreneurship, and Establishing an Innovation Collaborative:

Arch Grants launches geospatial cohort

NGA-MTC launch geospatial accelerator

Planning underway to develop and build the National Center for Location Services near new NGA campus (see p. 85)

Supporting the advancement of community-driven development near new NGA campus:

– GeoFutures collaborates with Project Connect and works in support of the City’s Equitable Economic Development Framework

Branding and positioning St. Louis as a national thought leader:

GeoInnovation National Speaker Series launched

STLMade educational “What is Geospatial” video

SLU/NGA partnership on GeoResolution conference

And the formal launch of the GeoFutures Coalition in the coming weeks will complete another of the main priorities called for in the Strategic Roadmap.

Additionally, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation has selected St. Louis to host GEOINT Symposium, the largest annual gathering of the geospatial industry, in October 2021 as well as in 2023 and 2025.

“That’s definitely a sign of the critical role the national geospatial leadership sees St. Louis playing for the future of the industry,” said Dearing.

Geospatial technology is a fast-growing field and has been named as one of the critical sectors for future economic growth in the St. Louis region in recently released STL 2030 Jobs Report.

“St. Louis emerges from the pandemic with a growing sense of confidence, optimism and growth for the future, and the ambition to make St. Louis the global center of geospatial excellence is a big part of our renewed civic energy,” added Hall.