When Southwestern Bell execs decided to move the enterprise’s headquarters to San Antonio in the early 1990s, pundits were quick to predict dire economic and social consequences for St. Louis.
It’s hard now to remember what they were. After all, SBC continues to be a major property owner, employer, taxpayer, and office tenant, with several of its corporate divisions — and more jobs than when the headquarters departed now located here. Its senior executives are active in community affairs — and its generosity supports dozens of local civic efforts.
As Mayor (and as an alderman and president of the board of aldermen before that), I have taken to heart the counsel of a pair of savvy SBC-Missouri presidents. They said: make the City business friendly and help us maintain a truly competitive state regulatory climate. That kind of environment will allow SBC to bring new jobs and missions to St. Louis. I did — and they did.
That advice will be useful as I begin discussion with Federated over its continuing presence in St. Louis. My top goals are to maintain as many of the former May Company’s front office and creative jobs here as possible and to keep a flagship store in Downtown St. Louis. And, I hope to show Federated officials a City and a state from which they can direct other divisions of their national corporation.
The task, while formidable, is made easier by Downtown’s (and the City’s) renaissance and sharply improved business climate — and by the airport’s gradual recovery as an important and reliable transportation center.
I will keep you posted.