A strategy to empower, develop, and transform the City of St. Louis through a vibrant, just and growing economy in which all people can thrive.
From Mayor Tishaura Jones
In the 1950’s, my grandparents bought a home in Wells-Goodfellow, where they raised their thirteen children. We called it "the Big House," and it was the center of our family’s universe. After my grandparents passed, my aunts and uncles raised their families there, too. My parents got married in the living room. Families, Black and white, lived in a community where we felt supported and safe—even if we weren’t rich.
My grandparents’ home isn’t standing anymore. It was struck by lightning and burned down. The neighbors have all left, and our once-thriving neighborhood has fallen on hard times. This was no accident: redlining, racist homeowner policies, and decades of intentional disinvestment have deepened the Delmar Divide and made neighborhoods on both sides less prosperous and less safe. Recognizing and reversing these historic wrongs is not just a moral necessity; it is a practical one.
I ran for mayor to ensure that every neighborhood in St. Louis can thrive, and we cannot succeed as a city if we allow over half to fail. Building a more equitable St.Louis starts with investing directly in people and communities—particularly our most marginalized. Between 2010 and 2020, thousands of Black St. Louisans left the city in search of better opportunities for their families. Addressing the racial disparities in real estate, business, and employment will lay the foundation for growth in every one of our neighborhoods. Equitable development is necessary to reverse decades of population decline and make St. Louis a place where families want to live and grow.
It will also make our city safer across the board. Poverty is the father of crime, fueling cycles of violence that echo across St. Louis. To put a stop to these tragedies, to make our city safer, and to continue attracting talent and businesses, we must address root causes of crime with a holistic plan that includes economic empowerment and development.
President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act ("ARPA") presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make long-term investments that will transform St. Louis for generations, making our city a safer, more equitable place. Despite these significant resources, this task cannot fall on the shoulders of the City government alone. Turningback decades of disinvestment will require deeper partnerships with financial institutions, non-profit anchors, corporations, foundations, and other organizations to leverage and multiply the investment of public dollars. It will take all of us—together—to right this ship.
We have a remarkable opportunity
before us, and we must seize it.
Under ARPA, we have a responsibility to invest dollars towards eligible uses in full compliance with federal procurement standards, which call for open and competitive selection processes. While "general economic development" does not constitute an eligible use of ARPA funds, Treasury's Final Rule provides that ARPA funds may be used for affordable housing, small business assistance, job training, improvements to vacant properties, and stabilization of schools, hospitals and childcare facilities.
The Final Rule also encourages cities to use ARPA funds to address the negative economic impacts experienced by communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic—including households in qualified census tracts ("QCTs"). These eligible uses form the starting point for our Economic Justice Action Plan.
The City of St. Louis will achieve its greatest economic growth when all residents, businesses, and neighborhoods have equitable opportunities to reach their potential.
Executive Director, SLDC
We must take action together.
Dismantling oppressive policies and changing the way incentives are distributed is the responsibility of everyone in this community. As the City of St. Louis commits to change, so too must the residents, businesses, and neighborhoods of St. Louis. Our collective power for systems change will only be successful with everyone’s continued involvement.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
SLDC is just one organization among many that is needed to deliver on the goals outlined in this Action Plan. Even though they have the main responsibility to lead this effort, there are many ways that you can engage:
Join your Neighborhood Association to be part of the conversation about how development occurs and how capital flows to the residents and businesses closest to you. As often as you can, buy locally and invest your money in local banks, helping to ensure that money from the people of St. Louis is reinvested in our community.
Continue to invest in St. Louis and our people by identifying ways that you can financially support the Economic Justice Fund. If you need incentives or financial assistance to grow here, come prepared to negotiate with the neighborhoods where you operate to demonstrate that you understand your role in fostering economic justice.
Prioritize your needs and share them with SLDC to help them be a better partner with you. Hold SLDC to their commitment to economic justice by attending their public meetings and tracking their progress. Promote and celebrate our successes as homes are repaired, streets are cleaned up, and investment opportunities grow. We will build wealth together and deliver on economic justice for all – one house, one business, one neighborhood at a time – until our city reflects our greatest asset: the people of St. Louis.
The Action Plan
The Economic Justice Action Plan is not just another plan. It provides specific steps that we must collectively take to see economic justice delivered to the people, businesses, and neighborhoods of St. Louis. Thank you to the 6,000+ residents, businesses, and organizations in St. Louis who shared their perspective in the creation of this Action Plan as well as in the eight additional plans we analyzed: Action St. Louis People’s Plan, Equitable Economic Development Framework, Equitable St. Louis CBA Guidebook, Ferguson Commission Report, GEO Futures, The Gravois Jefferson Plan, Health Equity Works: Dismantling the Divide, and the STL 2030 Jobs Plan. Below we describe our five primary goals for the plan, along with the three pillars of action.
5 Primary Goals
Close the Wealth Gap
Improve Health & Education
Expand the Tax Base
Grow the City's Population
Equitable & Inclusive Development
Leverage real estate development and business retention, expansion, and attraction ("BREA") efforts to catalyze equitable and inclusive economic growth.
The Economic Justice Action Plan proposes an unprecedented investment in marginalized communities in St. Louis—particularly North City—and is comprised of three strategic pillars: economic empowerment, equitable & inclusive development, and neighborhood transformation. Each pillar is critical to the future of our city and the region at large.
Leverage community assets to transform physical, social, and economic aspects of historically disinvested and marginalized neighborhoods to build their collective capacity and wealth-building opportunities.
Invest in an ecosystem that provides opportunities for businesses to launch, grow, and sustain their operations. Create the workforce of the future through mentorship, training, and quality jobs.