Sunday, December 18, 2011

St. Louis needs to reboot economic development efforts


For the St. Louis economy, this year looked a lot like the previous 20 or 30, and it's a rut we really need to get out of.

Job growth lagged the nation. Well-known local companies succumbed to takeovers, without enough new businesses to take their place. Officials argued about strategy while failing to address the region's deep-seated problems.

Denny Coleman, the president of the St. Louis County Economic Council, has been sounding the alarm about these issues recently, ever since the council commissioned a report on the region's economic strategy.

One headline from the report, written by consulting firm AECOM, is that within two decades, because of slow population growth, we'll no longer be one of the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. We're currently No. 18.

That top-20 ranking automatically confers big-city status. National retail chains want to have a presence in the top 20 markets; advertisers target their messages there. Cities in the next tier are important, but they have to fight harder for attention.

Coleman believes AECOM's warning should be a wake-up call.

"We have been living off the wealth creation from select legacy companies here for some time," he said. "While we've created some new, significant wealth, the competition in other metro areas is outpacing us."

More here.

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