ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The East-West Gateway Council of Governments is taking a look back at two decades of its “Where We Stand” rankings of the region and is finding a lot of déjà vu.
“Unfortunately, what we have to report is that the themes are very familiar to the St. Louis region. Our rankings haven’t changed a whole lot,” Policy Research Manager Mary Rocchio said at a presentation Wednesday night. “We’re seeing a lot of the same issues.”
There are 129 various variables on which the region is ranked versus its peers across the country.
The St. Louis area ranks 27th out of 35 on population growth, 34th on international migration and 21st on domestic migration. Rocchio said the area is still losing jobs, especially those of the manufacturing variety, and has a population aging much faster than other areas.
She also calls the level of racial disparity very, very high.
Why hasn’t the needle moved, even a bit?
“I think there’s a complacency in the region. We just seem fine with where we are,” Rocchio said.
A lack of fresh blood means a lack of fresh ideas and it was suggested that perhaps the “where’d you go to high school?” mentality creates a barrier for newbies to contribute.
But at the presentation, Rocchio and former East-West Chairman Les Sterman also suggested that the region’s bureaucracy shares the blame. So many layers of government and so many leaders recycled through various positions.
“We definitely could use some more people being civically engaged,” Rocchio said.
It was also noted that when the St. Louis area recognizes a problem, it is paralyzed to take action and instead studies the issue to death.
Rocchio: “Yes, we could use more action.”
She said that St. Louis City and County are studying how to attract more immigrants and also are mulling over how to keep students after they graduate from the universities.
When asked whether any kind of shocking development could force the region to take meaningful action, she said the statistics should’ve been a shock twenty years ago.
The news isn’t all bleak. The cost of living continues to remain low in and around St. Louis and more locals are earning college degrees. The region is also starting to recognize the importance of helping entrepreneurs.
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