City and county economic development groups close to merger

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by Diana Zoga / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 7:34 PM

 (KMOV) -- In June, the St Louis City Board of Aldermen is expected to hold a final vote on a proposal that would formally merge the business expansion and retention teams of the city-run St. Louis Development Corporation and the St. Louis County Economic Council.

Ten staffers with the St. Louis Development Corporation, who work to bring new jobs to the city, would move to the Clayton office of the St. Louis County Economic Council in order to pool city and county efforts to market the region to new businesses.

“Our total goal is more jobs and more investment for St. Louis,” said Denny Coleman of the St. Louis County Economic Council.

Both city and county teams would operate under one new organization that would be called the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. 

Thirteenth Ward Alderman Fred Wessels sponsored the merger legislation in the city and says that both teams would share the responsibilities and costs of marketing the region to new businesses.  The city would provide about $1.3 million in salaries and marketing, while the county would contribute about $3 million a year to the Partnership.

“I think we’ve been competing long enough and we’ve seen the results of it.   It hasn’t worked,” said Wessels.

Wessels says their efforts would help limit, so-called “subsidy shopping” by businesses who may try to pit the city and county against each other - each digging deeper for more incentives to make a deal.

“For the business that’s unsure, the Partnership will develop two proposals: one for the city one for the county.  They’re going to do it together.  It may not eliminate subsidies, but it’s going to minimize them,” said Wessels.

The way tax revenues are distributed would not change under the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, said Coleman.

“The tax revenue that is collected stays the same for the jurisdictions, for those taxing jurisdictions.  So, whether a deal locates in downtown St. Louis, or Clayton, or Chesterfield, each jurisdiction, including school districts, community colleges, the city, county, municipal governments keep their taxes based upon where those projects decide to locate,” explained Coleman.

The city is expected to hold a final vote on June 7th.

The earliest the county will consider similar legislation to authorize the merger would be in early June, said Coleman.

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