Surrounding the recent Spirit of St. Louis Air Show and STEM Expo in Chesterfield, Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces spent significant time investing in building economic, diplomatic and military connections on the ground and in the sky.
Missouri is a priority state for the British Government. The economic connections are already strong with British companies such as AB Mauri, GKN Aerospace, Caparo Group, GSK and more already investing and creating jobs here. And Missouri companies such as Enterprise Holdings, Stifel, Hallmark, Cerner, Emerson and H&R Block are actively investing in the UK and creating jobs there. On the military side, British officers are embedded across Missouri in places like the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in St. Louis, or Whiteman Air Force Base near Warrensburg.
So, three days of meetings, events and incredible aviation displays raised the visibility of Missouri’s importance to the United Kingdom in ways that will grow the plethora of connections going forward.
The Royal Air Force Red Arrows led the arrival of the British vanguard with a historic flight by the St. Louis Arch. Joined at Spirit of St. Louis Airport by British Consul General John Saville and myself, the team immediately began their outreach to Missouri. Red Arrow team members met with more than 750 students at the air show’s STEM Expo (exciting future generations toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math); met with the consul general and myself in an amazing Jaguar from Plaza Jaguar Land Rover; and met members of the British Government who had travelled in from the Chicago Consulate, the British Embassy in Washington DC, and Whitehall in London, headed to downtown St. Louis for meetings with industry leaders.
Following these important discussions, the UK Government team headed to technology partners in Chesterfield for a business leader roundtable, at which we were joined by the Red Arrows, Air Vice-Marshal Simon Ellard and other representatives from the UK’s Ministry of Defence. Focused on crafting a future path for the Missouri/UK economic relationship, the conversation was robust and is helping craft significant next steps throughout the coming year.
The day culminated in an event of around 300 people, including the Red Arrows, with key air show volunteers, kids who had entered a contest to fly with the Aeroshell team and many others.
Saturday kicked off with a breakfast event in partnership with STL Motorcars, attended by elected officials, business leaders, the Red Arrows, AVM Ellard, Consul General Saville, the St. Louis County Police and Fire Bagpipe Band and more. To be discussing the importance of the UK/Missouri business relationship while surrounded by the best of British innovation in the form of Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Lotus was rather fitting.
And then, we all headed to the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show and STEM Expo for two days of amazing and beautiful performances by the RAF Red Arrows, alongside the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, a fully restored Spitfire, Skip Stewart, the Aeroshells and numerous other skilled flyers. Combined with team members spending time with students throughout both days in the STEM Expo, the effect of the team will be known for years to come.
It was three valuable days in September. The Missouri/UK relationship is strong. It will get stronger thanks to the forward-looking partnerships being forged that transcend the Atlantic. And, thanks to the hospitality of 50,000-plus air show attendees, both the Red Arrows and Her Majesty’s Government know quite well that Missouri is a great place to visit, a great place to invest and the home of some of the finest people in all of North America.
Mark Sutherland is Her Majesty’s honorary consul of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and represents the British Government across the State of Missouri. He is permanently based in the St. Louis region.