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The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the tag “economic development”

`Is There a Way St. Louis Can Grow Because our Cost of Living is Reasonable

I just read an article which states the obvious, high end workers will move to places such as San Francisco or Boston to take advantage of the higher paying jobs. Regular people, both professional and blue collar cannot make that move due to the extremely high cost of housing in those locations.

St. Louis needs to figure out a way to harness our pluses; an affordable cost of living and world class cultural attractions. I think that is a big deal. I would even suggest flying recent college graduates here for a weekend to show them our pluses. Pittsburgh is an example of a city I considered to be much like St. Louis that repositioned itself as a trendy place.

The big negative in St. Louis is the crime situation. Virtually everyone except civil rights activists feel it is the number one problem facing the city. Few people seem willing to acknowledge this issue. Written by Paul Dribin

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Lyda Krewson

I usually don’t get into politics, but my first public administration class pointed out you can’t separate politics from policy. Elliot Davis of You Paid for It Fame on tv wrote a passionate facebook post in which he postured that Mayor Krewson the first woman mayor of St. Louis is not up for the job. He provided a number of good examples.

Unfortunately, I would have to agree with Elliot. She seems like a nice person but is just going through the motions of being mayor. She has not leadership skills. If I was a police officer or member of an officer’s family, I would have been outraged after her comments making nice to the demonstrators and indirectly criticizing the police. She has done nothing substantive to address crime, job loss, or racial inequality. The Mayor likes to have feel good meetings and is using that process to take 9 months to hire a police chief. I also think the effort to lure Amazon here is a waste of time and money. Written by Paul Dribin

North Side Geo Spatial Facility

This is a project that could be a game changer. It will bring physical redevelopment to a portion of the north side of St. Louis which really needs it, provide jobs, and improve the lives of the residents. The location is near the site of the old Darst-Webbe public housing project. When I worked at the St. Louis Housing Authority, I was amazed at the interest Darst Webbe had for people worldwide.

This project can really change things on the north side. Let’s hope for the best. Written by Paul Dribin

How Does Economic Development Work

Back to one of my favorite topics, the amount of money wasted on economic development in the St. Louis Region. Millions of dollars are being spent on private and public organizations that focus on job growth. The controversy with the Blues and the Regional Chamber leader, Mr. Regan simply reflect the impotence of economic development organizations on whom we spend millions of dollars while are local economy lessens.

Years ago an economist friend of mine showed me that offering incentives in the way of tax abatement and other government services was a losing proposition. The costs of the benefits were more than the potential gains. What do cause businesses to locate in an area. I would guess they are the following:

1. A strong, able, and well educated workforce
2. Good roads, transportation, and airports
3. Good schools
4. Things to do
5. A culture accepting of diversity

You notice I did not mention tax structure which is the favorite bugaboo of the right. New York, California, and Massachusetts have the highest taxes, but great economies. In conclusion, be very skeptical of the claims of economic development organizations. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis Glitz-Build it and They Will Come

Here is a major beef I have with how things get done in St. Louis in the 21 years my family and I have lived here.

Instead of investing in neighborhoods, education, crime prevention, etc. St Louisians invest in glitzy and trendy project that may work elsewhere but are unsuitable for our community. Some examples include, Union Station, City Center, adding a runway at Lambert, football and soccer stadiums, a downtown convention hotel, metro link, and a trolley. There is a place for all of these things in some communities, but glitz put on top of a crime ridden city with crumbling infrastructure will not work. The problem is compounded by a build it and they will come attitude, meaning that data does not support the endeavor but it will be so cool that people from somewhere will come and use it after it is completed. (I;E THE LOOP trolley)

Written by Paul Dribin

Ferguson Again

Another thought about Ferguson.  There was a high powered Ferguson Commission that had prepared an extensive report with significant findings for improvement. It received a lot of publicity. What has happened to the outcomes from that report?  Written by Paul Dribin

Urban Development and Privilege

Much has been written recently about the concept of white privilege. I  find the term somewhat offensive because it makes people defensive. Nevertheless, the concept is true

There are a couple areas of middle class privilege that contribute negatively to the well being of communities.   The first is the mortgage interest deductions. This deduction primarily helps higher income people, and artificially drives up the price of housing. Working class people who do not itemize are hurt. This by the way is the biggest housing subsidy. A tax credit targeted to working class people would be more effective

A second set of privileges cover zoning and planning laws in our communities. These laws tend to zone out smaller and more affordable housing and Multifamily housing. I am not talking about housing homeless people but teachers social workers, nurses etc.    

The results of these policies are unnecessary segregation , a lack of mobility, and urban decline.  Written by paul Dribin

Economic Development Organizations in St. Louis

I have hesitated to write about this topic but here goes. As locals know, the President of the Regional Chamber, Joe Reagan has been under fire in the community and with his staff. Anonymous letters have been leaked to the newspapers. It is far beyond my pay grade to comment on Mr. Reagan or his organization.

The bigger picture, which has always fascinated me, is what to these organizations do? I am not sure. Dick Fleming, Reagan’s predecessor, was always bragging about his accomplishments, but population and jobs actually went down under his tenure. Do Chambers of Commerce make any sense in a worldwide economy?

I have also heard that the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership; a collaboration of the city and county economic development agencies is a mess. The leader of this organization is Rodney Crim. My source tells me the only thing they have accomplished is increasing salaries and high level staff.

The St. Charles County Economic Development Council, led by Greg Prestemon largely because they provide a business incubator. Greg and his staff have been supportive of innovative business change in St. Charles County including Workforce Housing.

I will write more about this subject in the future. The studies of researchers for years have shown that government economic development efforts do little and may actually operate at a net loss. Factors such as an educated workforce, progressive attitudes toward minorities and gay/lesbian populations does more than tax or other incentives to bring business. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis North Side Development

The plans for St. Louis North Side Development have been ongoing for some time. Paul McGee is the developer behind the project that has created its’ share of controversy. Mr. McGee has purchased a number of properties on the north side in support of this project. Some of these properties have not been well maintained. Other concerns have surfaced about the lack of citizen participation in the process etc.

The Post-Dispatch today published a story that indicated more tax credits have been granted. It seems this project is taking forever to actually get off the ground. What complicates things more is that the federal Geospatial Project is an important part of the Northside Redevelopment project. This Geospatial Project is extremely important to St Louis, generating jobs and neighborhood development.

I am a fan of Paul McGee, because I have spent time with him and shared his vision. He is interested in transformation for communities and could certainly have spent his money on easier projects. It would be nice to see something actually happen on the northside. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis as a Place to Live

I have a very good perspective on St Louis having grown up in Chicago and living here for 21 years.  In spite of itself, St Louis is a great place to live.   The culture and restaurants are first class. It is a great sports town and housing is quite affordable. You can get anywhere fairly quickly.  

Why have things not taken off here. There are several reasons 

1.  Racism.  Most of the other problems, crime, education, jobs, and dysfunctional government come from or racist traditions 

2.  Crime.  People around the country hear about crime in St. Louis and don’t want to move here.

3.  Education.  Many school systems are still a mess 

4. Cronyism. By cronyism I mean the strong tendency of people from St. Louis to pick there high school friends for key jobs and not consider outsiders. 

5. Dysfunctional government. This speaks for itself and is related to the other problems. 

We know what it takes to correct these issues. We have had lots of studies. Do we have the leadership and political will to make the changes?   Written. By Paul Dribin 

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