Despite the economic downturn and rising COVID cases, St. Louis economic development is still churning along in a surprising manner.
It’s true that St. Louis has, over the past several decades, been reeling from its industrial economy withering away and has not been a shining star of economic stability. Yet, the forces that made St. Louis economically unstable are themselves disappearing as new industries take hold in the metropolitan area and a greater trend toward regional collaboration and workforce development. With a steadily growing Biotech sector, incredible research universities including Washington University, SLU, UMSL, and others, a blossoming Geospatial Intelligence sector, and a diversifying startup community, St. Louis of today is much stronger.
The metropolitan area is starting to make a name for itself with these new industries, and with coordinated workforce development and more competent leadership, these industries are growing.
With the new NGA facility just north of Downtown, the Geospatial Intelligence sector is poised to create thousands of jobs and revitalize a section of St. Louis City that has historically struggled. At the same time, the Federal government is bringing over 1000 USDA jobs to Downtown St. Louis, just as Accenture announced 1400 new jobs in Town and Country, with many of those jobs working in Federal contract related roles.
In the Cortex, KDG is still planning its Cortex K development, and Washington University has a crane up for its 11-story Neuroscience facility, which would be the largest in the nation once complete. The Aloft hotel just opened its doors to visitors, supporting the innovation and startup community. Cortex leaders have signaled that there will be more to come soon.
Strong industries do more than provide jobs to their direct beneficiaries. They add to the tax base, supporting city functions in the future. Moreover, they contribute to the strength of their communities, making other new jobs and developments possible. With all of the activity in the Central Corridor, there is the capacity to support hundreds of wealthier residents, with the One Hundred luxury apartment building nearing completion. In Lafayette Square, a new luxury apartment building was just announced which presumably will house the residents occupying these higher paid positions in the growing industries.
Of course, there is also the City Foundry development in Midtown, which is supposed to open its doors this Fall with a new grocery store, cinema, and a food hall with a dozen or more entrants. We also covered on this site the hotel planned on Jefferson at the Wells Fargo campus.
Not everything is so rosy – there have been some developments that have stalled, such as the Armory building in Midtown. Although the developers at Green Street have completed most of the exterior work, potential leasing issues and a lawsuit are delaying further construction, much in part due to difficulties with financing and finding tenants during the age of COVID. It’s all but certain that developers are going to present new projects at a slower pace, but this is far from a situation where St. Louis stalls. Instead, St. Louis will keep seeing cranes in its skyline.
From the Chelsea apartments in DaBaliviere Place, Forsyth Pointe in Clayton, Clarendale in Clayton, to the Iron Hill development on Grand, we’re set to see so much more new construction over the next several years.
This is anything but a dull time in St. Louis, and hopefully this means our city and community will be in a good place for a solid recovery as our crises end sooner rather than later.