Joe Reagan, president of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA), was in Franklin County for the third time since he was named to his present position earlier this year. He has visited East Central College, Union, and he was in Washington Thursday.

He came to learn about the county and its cities. He asked questions and particularly sought opinions about the region and the role of the RCGA. He told of the challenges facing the region and the RCGA. The challenges are similar to those of other cities and metro areas — public education, job creation, law enforcement and safety, transportation, the culture of the region, preservation of values, strengthening of ties to governmental entities and civic organizations, better communication and other subjects.

He indicated that one of his goals is to link with chambers of commerce in the region. Another is to strengthen ties to the many governmental entities and to their leaders. He’s traveling the region to get to know community leaders and to get a feel of their needs and goals. Reagan is learning the potential of the region and prospects for growth, especially in economic development.

He’s a good listener and generated thoughts about the Washington and the Franklin County community and their positions in the region. The Washington economic development leaders who met with him voiced support for the region and the RCGA’s role. They assured him that leaders in this section of the region understood that what happens in St. Louis city and county and other parts of the region impacts all of us. They also told him they support regional goals and understand the need for cooperation.

The new head of the RCGA makes a good impression and his zeal in gaining knowledge about the region gives us encouragement that he is off to a solid start in his important role. The challenges are there.

Recognition of the problems is the first step in finding solutions. One of the important roles he can play is to bring regional leaders together to obtain a consensus on issues and move the region forward. The region has strengths that must be preserved and enhanced.

Cooperation is needed to reach regional goals that will benefit all of us.