I said here before that we are a city of neighborhoods.
And I’ve said that our competitive difference is the character of those who
choose to live and work in them.We need
strong neighborhoods and, yes, we need plenty of characters.
Businesses underpin the former – and offer a ready supply
of the latter.I realized that at the
Regional Business Council’s annual meeting last week. RBC is a group made up of
the leaders of the region’s 100 largest mid-cap businesses.Their charter focuses their attention on
supporting the arts, improving the schools, and diversifying opportunities.
They employ many St. Louisans and pay living wages. And they have a foreign
policy of sorts, a willingness to look at the civic bottom line.
Good-paying jobs strengthen families, reduce poverty, and
offer a way forward. They make our neighborhoods more vibrant. So do direct flights
at Lambert. IKEA, Square, Pandora, TechShop. A contractor loan fund. A new SSM
hospital. Tim Horton’s – and RBC member companies supported all of them in 2015.
Good schools and public safety are two of biggest and
most expensive challenges the City faces. RBC companies and many of their
individual leaders have been integral in rallying support for quality education
and safe streets, no matter the ZIP code.
Retaining the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is
currently our most urgent economic priority. Keeping NGA’s 3,100 permanent
well-paying jobs in the city limits is vital. A new NGA campus will be a
catalyst for growth and change in north St. Louis— especially in neighborhoods
that have experienced decades of disinvestment.The competition has been stiff, but the City’s proposal has been helped
by the St. Louis business community’s support.
Similarly, building a new stadium and retaining an NFL
team will keep 2,600 game-day jobs in the City of St. Louis. A thoughtful
facility will be a prominent addition to the skyline of our City.And keeping a team and building it a home,
too, requires – and has gotten -- the support of the business community.
Together, the NGA and the stadium represent $2.6 billion
in development and will bring a combined 8,200 construction jobs to our City—this
is an opportunity we should not thoughtlessly pass up.
And RBC and its characters have not.