St. Louis economic development agency unveils first ever strategic plan

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), 2014-05-27

May 27 --After months of review, the newly combined St. Louis Economic Development Partnership on Tuesday announced its strategic plan aimed at growing the region's economy and giving it the foundation to compete on the national stage by luring entrepreneurs and foreign born residents.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley stood at the Cheshire Inn and said the partnership will focus on collaboration, inclusion, and performance.

"This is really, really important for the metropolitan region," Dooley said. "It does matter that we work in collaboration as we go forward."

The collaboration has six strategic priorities:

--Grow and retain jobs and capital investment

--Support start-ups and the entrepreneurial community

--Increase foreign trade and investment

--Advance redevelopment of strategic real estate assets

--Accelerate the growth of the region's foreign born population

--Align talent with business needs

Last year, the St. Louis County Economic Council and the city's St. Louis Development Corp. agreed to combine, forming the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership . Putting them under the same umbrella means the two agencies will focus less on poaching economic opportunities from one another, and instead focus on bringing development from outside the region to St. Louis .

Still, a year after the merger, the agency struggled to point to real tangible results -- saying it's too early.

"It says that the St. Louis region is open for business," Dooley said.

To that aim, the partnership will focus on marketing a "unified brand for the St. Louis region." It will also work to improve the image of the region by focusing on joint reporting of city-county crime stats, redefining the region's central business corridor as stretching from the downtown riverfront to Clayton , and promoting examples of regional cooperation and collaboration.

The partnership has some lofty goals, including becoming a top 10 region for entrepreneurs, in addition to becoming the fastest growing major metropolitan region for foreign-born residents by 2020.

It also seeks to develop a commercial redevelopment plan for north St. Louis County .

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said on Tuesday that for too long the city and county worked against each other.

"That was a zero-sum game," Slay said.

One of the tangible benefits, according to Slay and Dooley, was the new agency's ability to speak with one voice and put together a comprehensive plan in an attempt to entice Boeing to build its 777X passenger jet at a site on the edge of Lambert St. Louis International Airport . The effort ultimately failed after Boeing decided to stick with its plant in Seattle .

"It showed St. Louis is doing things the right way," Dooley said, indicating that it is a blueprint to lure other companies and jobs. "We put together a plan that was second to none."

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