This morning I joined John Hancock and Michael Kelley on NewsRadio 1120 KMOX to discuss the economic importance of (a) building and investing in our community’s infrastructure and (b) "doing the deal.” Recently, two well-vetted major community projects have been approved and then stalled, while the deals that were struck seemingly get rehashed rather than done.
- The much-needed upgrade to the St. Louis City-owned Scottrade Center is a case study in smart public investment: This is a $67 million project that modernizes a civic amenity that delivers 2200 jobs tied to activity at the Center, 50,000 hotel room nights, $100 million in City taxes over the life of the building; $60 million in gross revenue in the City owned parking facilities. It is home to the locally-owned St. Louis Blues and numerous, major sporting events and concerts which add to St. Louis’ quality of life.
- A proposed Ice Complex in Creve Coeur Park will support more than 4,000 amateur hockey players in our community, host tournaments and other high-profile events which bring thousands of people to the St. Louis region and which would also contribute to the quality of life.
In both cases elected officials, proponents and opponents made their case in front of legislative bodies who after these public deliberations approved the projects. Both projects have been put on ice. When things like this happen, it puts a chill on other deals, business investment and economic development. Private sector decision-makers wait and see: They made the deal, will they do the deal?
We must also be asking ourselves – would this be the case if we were united toward a common vision, worked within a political framework that was more certain, publicly debated the merits of projects but moved forward, rather than sideways, with whatever decisions are made?
Here in St. Louis, we should be building and investing in civic amenities and infrastructure to create jobs, connect where people live with centers of employment, education and the broader world, ensure employers have ready access to critical utilities and freight networks and continue St. Louis’ legacy of high quality civic amenities.
The Chamber supports projects that are: economically net positive, fiscally sound, and doable. Doable projects have the support of key public and private sector stakeholders. This principle also requires that once a deal is reached, all parties can rely on the agreement going forward. That’s what winning looks like.