Here in our region, Forest Park and Emerson have moved together though history. Founded in St. Louis in 1890, the global manufacturing and technology company has been around nearly as long as the Park itself. And for the majority of our conservancy’s lifetime, Emerson has been right there alongside us, investing in our efforts as one of our most significant corporate donors.
“This goes back to Chuck Knight,” says Emerson Chairman and CEO David Farr, noting the leadership of his predecessor. “Chuck was looking for ways to invest in our community and give back at the time of our 100-year anniversary. Forest Park was clearly of interest to Chuck, given to the fact that it’s so open and welcoming.”
Emerson’s $3 million gift to the Restoring the Glory campaign in 1993 was essential to advancing our efforts to rebuild the Park with the City of St. Louis. That generosity continues to touch millions each year, with the Emerson Grand Basin becoming perhaps the single most popular photo backdrop in the region.
For Farr, the company’s ongoing commitment to Forest Park centers on two ideas: “First, Forest Park is truly a unique asset for the region. Emerson was born here and operates here, and we owe it to the community to help the Park stay viable now and for the next generation. Second, we invest because of how the Park improves the lives of the region’s families, including our own employees and their kids and grandkids. Forest Park is where they go — it’s the center point.”
For Emerson, a thriving Forest Park helps attract and retain prospective talent as well. “Forest Park has quite an image around the country,” Farr says. “When we recruit employees and talk to their families, we make sure they see the Park. I know young people coming into the company really engage with the Park.”
Emerson’s leadership gift of $5 million to the Forever campaign is a remarkable continuing testament to the company’s belief in our mission and its commitment to the people of St. Louis.
“Like any living asset, Forest Park is a place you need to keep investing in,” Farr says of the company’s gift. “Emerson has been there through the rebuilding of the Park. Now is the time when we need to put resources back into the Park to help it thrive for the next generation. This is our chance to make sure Forest Park continues to be current, healthy and safe.”
Emerson’s David Farr sees Forest Park as a place where a diverse visitorship marks so many of life's milestones, which is why his own family — Park users since they moved here 25 years ago — has made a gift to the campaign: “It’s amazing how much the people of St. Louis touch Forest Park, and how the Park touches them through their whole lives.”