Following Mayor Tishaura Jones’ commitment to invest $150 million in American Rescue Plan funds in north St. Louis, the St. Louis Development Corp. released guidelines for work to begin reversing decades of disinvestment. The document, a Roadmap to Economic Justice, highlights the key areas where investment would be focused. Those include small business empowerment, addressing vacancy, and affordable housing,
“We need to construct new buildings while building up surrounding communities as well to make sure dedicated residents aren’t forced out of their neighborhoods,” SLDC Executive Director Neal Richardson said. “This $150 million commitment is an important first step from the city, helping SLDC leverage private dollars, philanthropic contributions, and federal/state grants to truly reverse decades of disinvestments in our communities.”
Ultimate goals include eliminating the racial wealth gap, improving health and education outcomes, and putting the city on the path to a larger population and tax base. The plan emphasizes three lines of equitable growth: economic empowerment, which includes workforce development and small business assistance; equitable and inclusive development, through incentive reform and support for commercial corridors; and neighborhood transformation, by addressing built environment issues such as vacant buildings and building housing as diverse as the city.
“St. Louis cannot succeed, together, if more than half of it is allowed to fail,” Jones noted.
The city continues to solicit residents’ input for ARPA spending priorities, at roundtable discussions and two town halls. The first town hall will be at the O’Fallon Park Recreation Complex on May 11 from 6 to 8 p.m.; the second will be on May 17 at Meramec Elementary School from 6 to 8 p.m.
The city has posted on its website a survey for residents to fill out; the survey will be open through May 20. More than 3,500 print and online responses to the survey have already been submitted.
The city’s $150 million commitment builds on the $80 million already allocated for St. Louis families and neighborhoods. Programs already in place include Direct Cash Assistance, COVID-19 vaccine incentives, Gateway Go MetroTransit passes for youth, SLDC’s STL Small Business Grant Fund, and more. A rental assistance portal opened this month.
The St. Louis Development Corp.’s guidelines can be seen at Roadmap to Economic Justice.