Let's start with where we are.
The City is seeing some very marked growth in the technology sector and in small business start-ups. We have first-class incubators in places like T-REx and the Cambridge Innovation Center, and nationally noticed seed programs like the ArchGrants.
The financial services sector - companies like Stifel and Wells Fargo - is strong. Energy and Food are doing well.
Retail is making a comeback with Mercedes Benz, Lululemon, Whole Foods, and IKEA.
Tourism and business travel will be boosted in the near-future by the CityArchRiver construction, the likely expansion of Ballpark Village, the opportunities presented by strong local ownership of Union Station, and the promise of the MX district.
Health care continues to attract investment to the City, with BJC undergoing still another stage of its massive renovation, Shriners' Hospital moving into the City, new urgent cares in north City, and Saint Louis University focusing on major improvements. (And if anybody reading this knows a state legislator, the expansion of Medicaid should be a major priority of the Missouri General Assembly.)
Our traditionally stable neighborhoods generally continue to be so. Neighborhoods on the ascendency like the Grove and Cherokee Street are starting to buzz.
I am strongly impressed by some of the young candidates for public office in the City, and I feel very well-served by a team of veteran staffers whose average age is closer to 30 than to 50.
The St. Louis Public Schools are beginning to improve. Charter schools are beginning to establish themselves as neighborhood anchors and as magnets for new residents.
Our Budget Division has put together good plans to fund infrastructure work necessary to protect our credit rating and to fund the addition of new police officers.
We have distinguished ourselves from other parts of a sometimes reactionary state by enacting or forcing some progressive policies.
The St. Louis Cardinals will field a strong team again this year.
There are also challenges, which I am working on.
We have, as a region, begun a major discussion about race relations. It seems clearer than ever before that many disparities - in education, employment, and opportunity - have held us back. And it is also clear that neither the problems nor the answers are exclusively city or county issues. Later today, we will announce a major change in the City's and County's relationship to the federal government. That announcement, which I am not going to preview today, will sharply accelerate job and educational opportunities in the poorest communities in the city AND the county.
For the seventh straight year, violent and property crime rates in the City were trending down last year. Since Ferguson, the downward trend has slowed and, in the case of some crimes, actually increased. That wasn't a surprise. The same thing happened in Cincinnati in similar circumstances. Working with UMSL's criminologists and experts from IBM, we are implementing a detailed plan that will make some fundamental changes to how the City approaches crime and deterrence. Crime fighting will be even more focused on data and intelligence, so that the deployment and presence of police resources actually deters crime, rather than merely catches criminals. And, as we work our way through the changes created by local control, the City will end up with a department that is better trained, slightly larger, more representative of the community, better compensated, and more accountable to the community it protects.
The airport looks better than it has in decades. I have asked the director to continue to push for more flights to more places, shorter lines, faster baggage, better traveler amenities, and more accessible parking.
And, decades of deferred maintenance and infrastructure replacement to pay for rising health and pension costs will have to be addressed sometime this year by asking voters to approve a property tax increase.
These are not insurmountable challenges.
I am confident that we have both the skill and will to address them in the coming year.