Building an Economy
that Works for Everyone
St. Louis has been trying to solve complex economic development challenges with mega schemes like Better Together to build regionalism, airport privatization to plug a budget gap and NorthSide Regeneration to breathe new life into the most neglected neighborhoods. But so far all of the proposals have failed because they ignored the will of the people most dramatically affected by them. They served primarily to enhance the power or bank balances of individuals.
Cara’s administration will focus on reliable, well-thought-out development. It will be grounded in the purpose of city government – to serve its constituency. The City of St. Louis is a billion-dollar-a-year industry. The shareholders are residents, businesses, and visitors – anyone who pays taxes. If they are not served well they will choose to go elsewhere.
St. Louis is perfectly positioned in the center of the nation on the largest river on the continent. St. Louis Lambert International Airport has been growing faster than the regional economy for years. Soon, a second international airport in the region, in Illinois, will be connected to it by light rail. The Port District recently rose to second in the nation for trip ton-miles a year. Its success is the result of the coordination of six area port authorities under one entity. It should be a model for coordination and collaboration for other transportation sectors.
St. Louis hosts key industries positioning themselves for healthy futures. The Cortex Innovation Community in Midtown is an alliance of the major universities and hospitals to foster entrepreneurship in technology and health care. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is moving to a new campus under construction in North City and will spawn a multitude of technology and support industries in its shadow. Add to the collaboration environment the work in agriculture of the Danforth Plant Science Center. The result is the intersection of three dynamic industries poised to impact life on this planet in major ways for decades to come. St. Louis has homegrown supports like Arch Grants and numerous co-working spaces like Nebula and T-Rex to foster creativity. With a proactive approach – thoughtful and intentional planning – St. Louis can help these industries grow.
More attention must be turned to improving and promoting not only these new and growing assets but also long-term, mature assets like the light-rail system, cultural institutions, multiple universities, and extensive public park system. Each will enhance the city’s reputation as a great place to raise a family and renew it as a great place for anyone to live, work, and retire.
Lambert Airport needs to be improved to keep up with its competition in other regions. But that can be done without selling it to the highest bidder at a particularly vulnerable time. (See elsewhere on this site the details of Cara’s fight to defeat privatization of the airport.)
On day one of her administration, Cara will begin engaging the community in the development of the Mississippi Riverfront. St. Louis lags behind other cities with lesser waterways in attracting residents and visitors to the endless potential of what a river can provide for the heart of a city.
City Hall under Cara’s leadership will be a place where honesty, collaboration, and bold ideas are the guiding values and behaviors. St. Louis is a grand old city that has become broken in fundamental ways. Cara relishes the job of leading the community in its restoration.