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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”

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

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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 

Beyond Housing

In writing about great organizations in St Louis Beyond Housing is probably the best. They have been in business for years and fully realize that community development must be comprehensive and is hard work. 

They are focused on Pagedale  and the Normandy School District. Their projects include housing development and rehab,homeownership training, foreclosure prevention,and economic development. They have brought a movie theatre, grocery store, and bank  to the area. They have created the 24:1 imitative which is bringing the smaller communities together to meet common goals.

Their leader is Chris Krehmeyer a talented, passionate, and caring individual. I am proud of their work

Development Incentives in St. Louis

The City of St. Louis has for years handed out huge development subsidies in the form of TIFs, tax abatement, and other measures. They also offer soft second loans on developments which usually do not need to be paid back. Are these incentives effective? It is difficult to know. The Board of Aldermen Hud Committee is proposing a more rational approach to this issue and is gathering testimony from the public. Everyone involved in development needs to pay close attention.

My take on incentives is that it is difficult to use a formula to provide incentives. Ideally the development getting help would not be built without the incentives and the project would provide a real boost to the city. The Chase Park Plaza Hotel comes to mind. There would be less need for incentives if the city had a more rational, and fair permitting and development process. Most developers tell me the city is the most difficult place to do business.

Economic Development Agencies in St. Louis

I have always wondered about Economic Development Agencies. Lately there appears to be great turmoil at the Regional Chamber directed toward its’ President Joe Regan. All I know about that is what I read in the newspapers The Post had an extensive story about it today. What is curious to me is that apparently Mr. Regan’s alleged abusive behavior was also evident in his previous job in Louisville. Why did they hire him? Did they check his background?

More important, what do these agencies accomplish? They provide huge salaries to their staff, but what are the certifiable outcomes? What have been their legislative accomplishments in Jefferson City? I am going to write more about this topic in the future with data to back me up. I would like to hear of your experiences with these organizations

Jerry Schlicter

This is the second in my series about local good guys. Jerry is a personal injury attorney who has been quite successful. He is now going after employer based 401-k accounts for overly high administrative fees and too low rates of return

Jerry has accomplished two major things for the city of St Louis and State of Missouri. First he took the lead in getting the State historic Tax Credit program approved. This program has resulted in the preservation of thousands of historical buildings and the generation of the investment of Hugh sums of money in our communities.

Second he started and chairs the St Louis Arch Grants which provide startup funds for promising new businesses. 

What impressed me the most about Jerry is that both these endeavors do not benefit him directly. He is just a civic minded citizen

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