March, June Forum Programs Will ‘Drill Down’ on STL Regionalism Numbers

By on February 11, 2019

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

What are the REAL regionalism numbers?

As the debate heats up over the best way to achieve regional collaboration and and economic growth in the St. Louis Region, a lot of numbers are being thrown around, raising almost as many questions as they answer. The Forum’s programming in 2019 will ask experts to “drill down” into the numbers.

The March and June Forum programs in 2019 will reprise two well-received speakers from outside the region. They will attempt to bring exactitude and context — both local and national — to the discussion of St. Louis regionalism.

On March 29, Chris Chung, CEO of the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership,  will address the numbers that really count in achieving regional economic development.

Chung last spoke to the Forum in September 2015. That presentation was given nine months after he left the Missouri Partnership, which he had served for seven years.

The March 29 program will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the Mildred Bastian Theater at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. The program will follow the usual Forum format of 45 minutes of networking followed by the program. The event is free to attend, but registration is required. Click here to register.

In 2015 Chung said that the number of opportunities that came before his organization in North Carolina is exponentially greater than what he experienced in Missouri.

“The biggest difference is in the number of deals where they want you to compete — data centers, advanced manufacturing. I’m amazed at how often the phone rings,” he said at the time.

The positive numbers continue. North Carolina ranked first in Site Selection magazine’s “Prosperity Cup” competition for the third straight year in 2018. The award recognizes the most competitive state-level economic development groups, was presented to the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which lead business recruitment efforts on behalf of the state. States rounding out the top five in the 2018 Prosperity Cup are Tennessee (2), Georgia (3), Texas (4) and Michigan (5).

“The fundamentals that have been drawing companies for a long time really haven’t changed much,” Chung told Site Selection. “These include a great quality of life, well-renowned educational institutions and population growth with a lot of people coming out of school or mid-career who are moving here with a job or in search of one, all of which deepens the talent pool. We get a lot of in-migration from the Midwest and the Northeast.”

Drill-Down on Regionalism

“Acting as One” was the topic of David Rusk’s December 2017 presentation.Rusk is the author of “Cities Without Suburbs,” the seminal book on regionalism, now in its fourth edition.

He is the former mayor of Albuquerque, and is a three-time scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Rusk was the first speaker in the Forum St. Louis regionalism series, which to date has had a total of 2,093 registrations for  five events

Rusk’s knowledge of what has worked and what hasn’t vis a vis regional collaboration is voluminous. He has worked with hundreds of municipal and regional governments across the country. At a meeting at the Regional Chamber offices on his last visit a  young policy wonk came up to Rusk after the meeting and said, “You’ve forgotten more statistics than I’ve done in my entire life.”

Rusk began analyzing the Better Together report as soon as it was issued. He will be drilling down into items ranging from savings from consolidation, to size and ranking of the “statistical city”, economic development, planning and zoning, bond ratings, taxation, political representation, and Metropolitan Council composition.

His presentation will be held in the Mildred Bastian Theater at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park from 7:30-9 AM on June 12. Admission is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.



About Tom Finan