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Downtown crime pushes longtime trade show out of St. Louis to Denver

"I think it should be a wake up call for all of us," said Jason Hall, the CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc.

ST. LOUIS — For decades, downtown St. Louis has hosted a variety of events. 

Friday night people descended on Washington Avenue for the second annual "City Social" summer block party.

"Downtowns were meant to be enjoyed by all. We're proud to partner with the City of St. Louis," said Jason Hall, the Chief Executive Officer for Greater St. Louis, Inc.

However, now a major company is singing a different turn.

Dot Foods is based in Mount Sterling, Illinois, and has offices in Chesterfield.

The 63-year-old, food industry logistics company has announced, after more than two decades, next year it's moving its annual trade show out of St. Louis to Denver due to downtown crime.

"I think it should be a wakeup call to all of us," said Hall.

Dot Foods' current, three-day convention kicks off at America's Center next Tuesday.

The big convention is a big money maker for St. Louis, expecting to bring nearly 3,000 people from around the world to downtown.

"When we're losing business that's losing opportunity and economic opportunity for all of us here," said Hall.

In recent months, shootings, homicides, car break-ins and other violence have plagued downtown St. Louis.

"We have public safety challenges and in particularly we have a homicide crisis in the metro," added Hall.

In a statement, Dick Tracy, Dot Foods' chief executive officer said in part:

"Safety is always a primary factor in our decisions. We want to see the city and police department institute a plan to curb crime and violence in downtown St. Louis that produces positive results."

"But, I feel like St. Louis is really growing," said Mekhat Moore.

Moore owns two successful businesses on Washington Avenue downtown.

"I think they really focus a lot on downtown crime, but the crime is everywhere," Moore said.

"We got a lot of momentum going with our regional plan to address crime. A lot of momentum, but if we don't shore this up, it's gonna be a break tap on everything else," said Jason Hall.

Dot Foods says after 2025 it may consider St. Louis for future shows.

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