Economic Development

Collaboration is an essential element of a resilient and growing economy. National trends over the past two decades support the notion that a collaborative approach toward economic development is better for overall economic prosperity for cities, towns, and suburbs alike. Metropolitan regions, not cities, now compete in the global marketplace.

In A Region at Risk, Robert D. Yaro and Tony Hiss write, “The flow of trade, capital, and jobs is determined by the performance of economic regions, not political jurisdictions. The future prosperity of [a] region’s separate parts and places depends far more on their combined ability to compete effectively with other regions… than on their ability to compete individually with each other.”12 The various counties, municipalities, and communities of the St. Louis region have historically competed with one another to secure new development, utilizing various financial incentives to attract developers and employers. These efforts have resulted in the movement of economic development from one part of the region to another and in little new economic growth for the region as a whole.Regional Employment Density

Within the eight-county St. Louis region, the highest density of employment exists in the urban areas of St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County. As illustrated in the facing map on page 32, jobs are concentrated along interstates and major arterial roads in the central corridor that runs east-west across the Mississippi River. Outlying cities and towns also form employment centers that are satellites to the region's urban core. The St. Louis region needs to ensure that these existing employment centers are connected to patrons and employees by a variety of transportation options, including MetroLink, regional trails and greenways, and other transportation alternatives.

"The future prosperity of a region’s separate parts and places depends far more on their combined ability to compete effectively with other regions than on their ability to compete individually with each other"

One key to the St. Louis region’s future success is economic diversification and growth in new employment sectors. An example of past and ongoing success is the biological and life sciences industries in the region. From 2007 to 2010, these employment sectors grew by over two percent per year.13 This growth rate was over three times the total growth rate of professional and technical services sectors in the region. While supporting continued growth of life sciences, both government leaders and the private sector should also pursue the creation and growth of other new employment sectors within the region.

Our regional economy will be best positioned to grow when the public sector (county and municipal governments, airports, port districts, other jurisdictions) operates collaboratively as a regional entity and works with private sector entities (St. Louis Regional Chamber, local Chambers of Commerce, financial institutions, business leaders, special business districts, etc.) on coordinated, regional outcomes. OneSTL goals to enhance the regional economy are outlined in the sidebar to the right. Along with associated objectives and strategies, they are presented in detail in Chapter 4 of this document.

OneSTL Network Members recognize that a cooperative regional economy is a major component to future regional success. Through regional collaboration, our economy can help improve the efficiency of local governments, enhancing the quality of local services while reducing cost. Regional economic growth translates directly to local municipal growth.