I recently created something of stir here when I suggested that we need a new structure that would let St. Louis work together more closely as a region to create jobs and strengthen the economy.
I expected and predicted the howls of protest. But, does anyone believe we are doing as well as we can? From the reaction I got from my post, the answer is no. From the reaction I got, people want real regional cooperation.
We have seen what we can do when we work together: Metro expansion, Great Rivers Greenway, the new bridge, the success of the ZMD's cultural institutions, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, and others.
Not everyone believes that they will benefit fairly if they have to share resources with others. Others believe that keeping things the way they are now, however stagnant, is better than risking a larger failure of doing things a different way.
Naysayers aside, Charlie Dooley and I are committed to moving this region forward together so that our competition is the world, not the suburbs versus the city or the suburbs versus each other.
An event last week was a good new example of what we can do. Working closely, the executives of the St. Louis Development Corporation and the St. Louis County Economic Council, and their staffs, jointly (and successfully) lobbied the federal government to expand the footprint of the Foreign Trade Zone here. The differences that larger designation will make will be realized by dozens of St. Louis companies that will be able to more quickly ' in a month instead of a year or more - sell their goods and services to customers around the world.
I like the changes. We did not need to pay any company to move to St. Louis. The companies that will grow and profit are already here. They will make money, save money, and ' as they grow ' hire more St. Louisans. Our region's default position is too often a quick negative. By raising the issue again and again, here and everywhere, I hope to move our regional reflex from NO to WHY NOT, and from WHY NOT to HOW. That would be a good thing.