Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden was honored in Washington, D.C. with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s “Leading Globally Matters Locally” award for his efforts to champion U.S. diplomacy and development programs that strengthen markets for his home state.
Holden, who served from 2001-2005, says he is most proud of “helping to build the connections between our business community and other business communities, helping to build the cultural relationships that are so important, the educational relationships I think lay a foundation for business success,” he told Missourinet.
The coalition members are former state, national, business, military, and diplomatic leaders who continue to build partnerships across the world. Holden, from the tiny town of Birch Tree, Missouri works to create international relationships at the local level: city-to-city, business to business.
Holden, a Democrat, works closely with another former Missouri governor, Republican Kit Bond in the leadership coalition.
“It’s global in nature, it’s bipartisan in nature,” he says.
This week, Holden and more than 300 current and former elected officials lobbied Congress to protect funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, which the Administration has proposed cutting by 24 percent. Holden says State Department and foreign aid spending make up one percent of the federal budget.
Holden says that this funding for international development hits home.
“For Missouri, 85-percent of the money that is going through foreign aid involves small businesses. It is over 700,000 jobs within our own state that are benefitted by this,” he told Missourinet.
Holden says the point of building global relationships is building a competitive edge for the U.S.
“Ninety-five percent of the consumers in this world live outside the United States. If we want our business to be successful, we can’t allow other countries and other businesses in other countries to be the only ones selling the products.”
Tariffs or the threat of tariffs make it harder to grow markets, Holden says.
“We want to make sure we are treated fairly, but at the same time, putting up the actions that I see coming out of the government today on increasing tariffs on products I don’t think is in our own self-interest.”
He says even the tense relations with China calls for diplomacy. Listen to that part of Holden’s interview with Missourinet’s Ashley Byrd.