Former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden on Monday received the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition's "Leading Globally Matters Locally" Award, during the organization's State Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
"It means that investing in human capital, building these relationships around the world, is in all of our self-interest," Holden told the News Tribune during a telephone interview from Washington, "particularly in a state like Missouri, (where) so many jobs are created by that international cooperation, in the number of businesses — and so many of them that are small businesses."
The Global Coalition's news release noted: "Missouri is home to some of the largest global brands and organizations with rapidly growing international operations in emerging markets.
"Last year, Missouri exported $14.2 billion in goods overseas, and trade supports 706,800 local jobs, making America's global leadership a key issue for the state."
Holden, who served as Missouri's 53rd governor, from 2001-05, currently is the Missouri co-chair for the Global Leadership Coalition — which describes itself in the news release as a "broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and (non-government organizations); national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states, who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world."
Holden said the two-day conference in Washington is intended to help participants better understand how to deal with the cultures of other countries "and to better understand what values come from the individual that you're communicating with or working with. So many times, I think, we tend to dismiss anybody else's point of view if it's not similar to ours because we think they won't understand what we're doing.
"What we've got to do is understand what they're doing and why it's in their self-interest and then figure out how our self-interest and their self-interest can work together for the benefit of both."
That kind of understanding can lead to success in economic development trips like the one current-Gov. Mike Parson is leading in Europe this week, Holden said.
"What we focus on with the U.S. Leadership Council is building those relationships so that business can occur," Holden explained. "But, it's also working with the private sector, working with the education community as well as the business community, in everybody's self-interest.
"We're talking about trying to help build a foundation by which our businesses and our communities and our educational system can reach across geographical boundary lines and political boundary lines to improve the health and safety of all nations, and all people of all nations."
Holden also joined about 300 other current and former elected officials in sending a letter to Congress urging funding protection for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development — which the Trump Administration has proposed slashing by 24 percent.
The former governor said the letter is about a policy issue not a personal slam at the president.
"We're talking about 1 percent of the budget so we're not talking about a dramatic change in policy," he said. "But, that 1 percent is supported by probably as many — if not more — military people (than) private-sector businesses because they see it as our country's self-interest to building these relationships.
"The military is the first one to tell you that they need activities in support, like the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, for them to be able to be able to do their job and to help protect our citizens in our country."