North County Inc. celebrates new home on UMSL campus
A few dozen people gathered outside the Regional Center for Education and Work Thursday afternoon to mark the official opening of North County Incorporated’s new headquarters on the campus of the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Chancellor Kristin Sobolik was on hand to welcome North County Inc. President and CEO Rebecca Zoll and her team to the new space. She also took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony surrounded by members of the North County Inc.’s board and representatives of other civic, business and community organizations.
“Community partners are essential as we provide high quality, affordable education and drive regional equity and upward mobility,” Sobolik said during brief remarks. “The collaborative partnership that UMSL has built with North County Inc. over the years represents the absolute best of what can be gained when community organizations connect and advocate for equitable economic development, education, health care and transportation in the St. Louis area. So we welcome and celebrate North County Incorporated on UMSL’s campus.”
North County Inc. was in need of a new home after the building containing its office was put up for sale last fall. Zoll mentioned that offhandedly while having lunch with Sobolik in October.
“I happened to mention, ‘If you ever hear of anything around the Normandy area, let me know,’” Zoll said. “That literally was the extent of the conversation. Within a couple of weeks of that one-off conversation, Dr. Spilling called me and said, ‘The chancellor would like to invite you to move onto the university’s campus.’ It was a welcome surprise and I felt honored she would extend this offer.”
The invitation UMSL Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic and Community Development Chris Spilling delivered was unexpected, but it also made a lot of sense given the longstanding connection between North County Inc. and the university.
North County Inc., established in 1977, is a regional development organization that acts as a catalyst to define and advocate for economic and community development in north St. Louis County. UMSL, as an anchor institution in North County, is closely aligned with that mission.
“North County is incredibly fortunate to have the university as one of our cornerstones and a foundation in our community for learning and workforce development,” Zoll said. “The chancellor and her team have focused on ensuring that the university is part of the community it calls home and part of advancing that community in an impactful and meaningful manner by looking not just at the needs of the university but the needs of the community itself and asking, ‘How do we, as one of the institutional cornerstones of this community, genuinely make an impact from a workforce perspective, from a financial investment perspective, from an economic impact perspective?’”
An UMSL representative has served on North County Inc.’s executive board throughout most of Zoll’s 22 years leading the organization, and she knows the connections started well before that. UMSL and North County Inc. have worked together on numerous projects, including efforts to address the mental health crisis in North County and UMSL’s work to support small businesses through its role as an anchor network.
Zoll presented UMSL with an Excellence in Partnership Award last month at North County Inc.’s 45th Annual Leadership Breakfast, and their work together will continue with the organization now in the RCEW Building, alongside offices for MU Extension and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health.
“We are genuinely honored that the chancellor reached out to us and felt that North County Incorporated and the work that we do on behalf of the people that live here and the businesses in our community was important enough that we could become part of the UMSL campus family,” said Zoll, who moved into the new space in late March.
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