Introduction & Background


Chapter 1 OneSTL is the result of an extensive community engagement process and more than seventy-five (75) separate studies all of which contribute to a vision for moving the St. Louis region toward a healthy, prosperous, and vibrant future. OneSTL encourages the combined efforts of individuals, governments, organizations, and the private sector to ensure that the region continues to grow and prosper economically while improving the environment.

A Regional Approach

Cities throughout the country are embracing a more regional approach to economic, social, and environmental development. This regional approach is driven by globalization that has transformed metropolitan regions into the key engines driving economic growth. In order to maintain and enhance economic competitiveness, regions should plan for a collaborative and shared future. This regional approach, which comes in many different forms, is critical to future economic development. Central to economic development is an improved quality of life for all citizens while protecting and enhancing our environment and natural resources.


The Planning Process

In 2009 East-West Gateway initiated Renewing the Region, a regional discussion about the St. Louis Metropolitan region and our shared future. That community conversation provided an important basis for an application, in 2010, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant. In October 2010 HUD announced that the St. Louis region would receive a Regional Sustainable Communities Planning Grant “to build economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation.” The grant is part of the federal government’s new emphasis on integrated planning, where transportation, housing and environmental issues are linked to create more sustainable and economically vibrant communities. The program is part of a growing recognition that rising fuel prices, a struggling economy, and an unstable housing market affect the quality of life in regions, cities, and neighborhoods. Eleven consortium partners came together and provided matching funds and a broad-based approach to planning and community engagement that has produced this plan (see Figure 2).


Defining Sustainability

Sustainable development is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without jeopardizing the opportunities of future generations to meet their needs. Another interpretation of this concept emerged from the public engagement process. The public wants to create a strong region that will provide good jobs, healthy communities, and quality lifestyle choices for themselves, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Thus a sustainable region is one where people can look forward to maintaining or improving a high quality of life for all residents. Developing sustainably means developing and maintaining a strong economy, and it also means supporting the physical amenities of a healthy community—clean water and air, attractive and accessible recreation, supportive communities with good educational opportunities, safe streets and neighborhoods, and effective transportation services.


Components of the Plan

OneSTL includes a vision, goals, strategies, as well as practical tools, resources and plans to encourage regional collaboration and local action to build a healthy, vibrant and prosperous region. OneSTL requires many partners to implement. Although eleven partners began the process three years ago, the goals, objectives and strategies already identify 45 additional organizations engaged in this effort. The OneSTL Network will facilitate participation of many additional organizations, local governments and individuals as the plan and related resources are shared throughout the community.