The failure of St. Louis to make the next round of the Amazon competition was especially disappointing in light of Amazon’s selection of other Midwestern communities. While it might be easy to criticize those who worked on the proposal, that is not my objective. Believing that only honest discourse will help our community find a viable path forward, I comment in a spirit of goodwill, as one who cares deeply about our region and who’s had personal experience in competitive request for proposal situations.
From the beginning, many wondered whether it was realistic to believe that St. Louis could win this competition. Clearly, a great deal of effort went into developing the pitch, but the result adds credibility to the “low likelihood” theory. This suggests that we have much to do in addressing the patent social, economic and political challenges that our community faces — before we can win the most competitive of national competitions.
The Amazon result is a symptom of the same malady that caused the NFL to leave, the MLS to look elsewhere and so many of our young adults to move to other communities. While many of us love St. Louis, and while it has much to offer, we should acknowledge that the region’s stagnating population growth, segregated communities, low rate of economic mobility, fragmented local governance, crime rate and other issues require continued attention.