Emerson CEO wants crime, schools improved to foster better business environment

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 7:20 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOV) - The leader of one of the St. Louis area’s largest corporations is sending a warning out to leaders in the area.

Emerson CEO Lal Karsanbhai says St. Louis needs to make a change in order to attract new businesses and keep the ones it has. Emerson considered moving its headquarters out of St. Louis last fall after more than 100 years in the area. The company ultimately decided to find a new location in the St. Louis area. It is currently located in Ferguson.

“As companies reconsider real estate footprints and workforce changes, the region runs a clear risk of businesses... looking at a new city as well,” Karsanbhai said in an op-ed in the Post-Dispatch. “Turning the tide will require ensuring everyone has equitable access to three vital needs: a good education, a safe community and a decent job... Education plants the seeds for a better life, and we have to help people get on the right path much earlier. The St. Louis region must prioritize access to quality education that is not dependent on living in the right zip code.”

The former CEO of Centene, Michael Neidorff, gave a similar assessment of the area in 2020 when that company considered moving its headquarters to North Carolina.

The message is resonating with leaders, including Ferguson Mayor Ella Jones, who says solving the crime issue needs a regional approach. She points to a task force of local law enforcement chiefs.

“It would have been a big loss for this area,” Jones said. “One municipality cannot solve the crime. It’s all of the police chiefs working together.”

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann adds the entire region stands to benefit or suffer.

“What used to be a problem in a small part of the city, they are making it more and more a regional problem, and we need to address it,” Ehlmann said. “We want them to know that their employees are going to be safe... We want them to know that there’s going to be well-educated employees available for them to hire. And if we can do those two things, I think the whole region has a great future.”

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office says it is investing in violence intervention workforce development and other programs that combat poverty. Greater St. Louis Inc. says Emerson’s decision shows the area has potential but still a lot of work to do.