Should parts of South St. Louis see piece of $37 million incentive program designated for North City? At least one alderman says yes.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - As North St. Louis prepares for an influx of $37 million in economic investment grant funding, one South St. Louis alderman is calling for parity.
Shane Cohn, who oversees parts of Dutchtown, Mount Pleasant and Gravois Park on the city’s southside, said recent changes to the grant program’s eligibility requirements should include parts of Ward 3.
“If it’s concentrated on certain corridors so be it, but if we’re going to change the definition there and broadened it to include census tracks and areas part of the economic justice index, then we should be all-inclusive,” he said.
Board Bill 37, sponsored by Shameem Clark Hubbard, proposes several fixes to Board Bill 82, the original bill signed into law by Mayor Tishaura Jones in May of 2022. In the original legislation, $37 million in federal ARPA funding was slated to aid small business owners and non-profits in 11 commercial corridors on the city’s northside. The application process opened a year ago, but St. Louis Development Corporation, the economic development arm for the city, has yet to disperse any funding.
“We’ve seen a high decline in population in north St. Louis City and we need to invest in ensuring we grow that area,” said Neal Richardson, Director of SLDC. “We have hundreds of other programs that small business owners and residents from across the city are eligible for.”
Since Board Bill 82 was signed, the city released its new Economic Justice Index, which measures indicators of need and opportunity and classifies areas of the city on a scale of one to five. According to the new scale, areas concentrated in North St. Louis, primarily west of Interstate 70 and east of Union Boulevard both north and south of Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. In addition, the scale found pockets of South City, including parts of Gravois Park, Dutchtown and Marine Villa as falling into the EJI-1 category, or most in need of investment and opportunity.
“The city is admitting it, SLDC is admitting it, so why wouldn’t we focus our energies on helping all of the areas in the city that have seen that same type of disinvestment as well?” said Cohn.
Board Bill 37 is likely to be voted on in the Housing and Urban Development and Zoning Committee in the next few weeks. If it passes out of committee, it will head to the full board of aldermen for debate. Changes, including those that would allow parts of Cohn’s ward to be included in the funding can still be made.
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