UnifySTL is a group of thought leaders who all agree the reunification of St. Louis City and St. Louis County must be made a priority in order for the region to regain its rightful place as a top tier market.
Dave Peacock, Former President, Anheuser-Busch
“I’ve grown up in St Louis and have spent all but two years of my life here. It is a fabulous community that is under-marketed to me. Our current structure puts our city on the wrong end of too many lists people refer to when evaluating communities. Our current structure also sub-optimizes resources and results in too much redundancy and a lack of cohesion. One St Louis, one community is a must for us to be competitive for the next generations.”
— Dave Peacock
Pat Whitaker, Arcturis
“If the St Louis region is to grow, prosper, and successfully compete in the national and global economy we must coordinate our efforts by combining our city and county. We have seen the positive results achieved by Indianapolis and Louisville after going through this process.
The time is now for St. Louis to unite! ”
— Pat Whittaker
Rick Holton, Jr., Holton Capital Group
“I have met with many early stage companies from outside St. Louis in search of venture funding and a new home. The number one concern expressed about moving their businesses here for funding is that the city is too small and the crime rate is too high. They don’t realize that the metrics are only based on the city proper data and certainly don’t reflect the metropolitan area. With the strike of a pen, St. Louis goes from the 54th largest city (not even top 50!) with the highest crime to the 8th largest with a crime rate that doesn’t rank on any of the lists. If we want new companies and immigrants to move to St. Louis, we absolutely MUST work toward reunification of the city and county. It is time to follow its proven success as witnessed in Nashville, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Louisville. Let’s compete globally instead of locally.”
— Rick Holton, Jr.
Gwendolyn Packnett, Ph.D.
“We have limited the full scope of our greatness. Our city deserves to be recognized at its best — as the cradle — the home of the 1904 World’s Fair. There are no greater cultural and educational institutions, no greater healthcare institutions, or parks, and recreational facilities than found in St. Louis City and County. We are the Gateway to the West. Our history, the architecture of our buildings, our diverse communities, are all a draw to our area, but we limit the full scope of our greatness.
Winston Churchill aptly declared, ‘The price of greatness is responsibility.’ As a native of St. Louis, I’ve lived in both the city and the county. I’m convinced we are obligated and therefore responsible for making the full scope of our greatness known. I believe this is best demonstrated through combining our city/county’s best resources at all levels.
As we embark upon the 250th birthday of our city, the resounding words of Dr. King hold truth, ‘Now is the right time to do the right thing.’ I assert now is the right time to share the full scope of our greatness as ONE St. Louis. We are responsible for our story, our images, our reality, not slanted data or undeserved images. A unified city is one that bespeaks the full scope of its greatness. We deserve to be that city. ”
— Gwendolyn Packnett, Ph.D.
“The complexity of local government is often a barrier to investment. This is especially true in real estate investing where local zoning, taxes, design review procedures, incentives, etc. vary so much from city to city and state to state. The negative impact the Balkanized governmental structure of St. Louis is obvious from the fact that there is so little national and international real estate investment in St. Louis. I have heard this from national developers for decades – “Your costs are high and your rents are low, but worst of all, St. Louis is impossible to understand.” Investment is like water, it seeks the simplest route and having over 90 municipalities in one county, a City that is “a City not located within a county” (the exact language in state statue) and over a thousand governmental units in the region works against us every day. Real estate capital is only one form of investment, but intuitively capital follows capital and our City/County community simply has a bad reputation in the real estate markets around the country and that rubs off in all forms of capital investment. Creating a simplified and transparent local government could be the highest impact and lowest cost investment St. Louis could make in our community.”
— Vincent C. Schoemehl, Jr.
“Lambert International Airport is one of the greatest assets to our region. We already have unified ties in that we are owned by the City of St. Louis and actually located in St. Louis County. Our Commission Board is represented by members from St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles and St. Clair Counties. Continuing to build on a more unified approach to how the airport is operated can only benefit the region.”
— Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge
“It’s time we re-attach the saucer section.”
— Jim McKelvey
“Having built a business from the ground up in St. Louis I know first hand what a great place this is to live, work and play. We need to unify and then focus on opportunities for the entire region. Eliminating duplication while enhancing impact and leveraging all that the St. Louis metropolitan area has to offer will take us forward. Unifying behind our strengths will allow us the needed financial and human capital to replicate GREAT—like high quality schools and be sure our children and our children’s children are prepared for the future.”
— Maxine Clark
Michael Loynd, Interco Foundation
“Simply put, a united St. Louis would improve the city’s image and help promote economic development. As Abraham Lincoln aptly stated: A house divided cannot stand.”
— Michael Loynd
“Reunification would just reflect reality: We are one community, and we are going to sink or swim together. We can continue with more than 100 jurisdictions, often working at cross-purposes, or we can unite and work together to build a stronger community and a brighter future. Much like our hockey team, we will accomplish more if we are all pulling in the same direction. Let’s reunify and move forward together.”
— Tom Stillman
“As a result of the reunification of St. Louis City and County, St. Louis will be higher on the ‘good’ lists and lower on the ‘bad’ lists published throughout the country. But most importantly, St. Louis will be on the lists! In terms of population we are one of the top ten metropolitan areas, yet we are omitted from most nationally published lists because the city and county are not unified. With reunification, our image would improve dramatically both locally and nationally. More people would consider visiting St. Louis and, perhaps, moving their businesses here.”
— Joe Edwards
“This country was founded on ‘We the people.’ Cooperation and togetherness are the principles that make all things great possible.”
— Martin L Mathews
Thomas Schlafly, Schlafly
“I was born in the City of St. Louis and grew up within walking distance from the hospital where I was born. I’ve voted in every City election since March of 1970. I’m the chairman and co-founder of a business that has been part of the revitalization of neighborhoods in both the City and the County. From all these years of living and doing business in St. Louis I’ve developed an increased awareness of the interdependence of the City and the County. I’ve also observed the advantages that cities such as Louisville and Indianapolis have realized by merging with their adjoining counties. If St. Louis is going to thrive in the 21st century we need to overcome the artificial barrier that was erected in 1876. To those who contend that a merger simply isn’t feasible I would reply, if East and West Germany can reunite, surely the City and County of St. Louis can figure out a way to do so for their mutual benefit.”
— Thomas Schlafly
Robert Hermann, Jr.
“I am a native St. Louisan and very proud of our region. Uniting the city and county is the best way to showcase St. Louis on a national stage. This model has been proven a success with our great corporate citizen Graybar. Originally, St. Louis city’s statistics alone disqualified our region’s eligibility to serve as Graybar’s new headquarters. However, Chuck Knight showed their CEO the combined statistics for the city and county, which changed their decision. As we all know, Graybar’s headquarters has called this city its home for over 30 years!”
— Robert Hermann, Jr.
“I moved to St. Louis with my family in 2006 and have fallen in love with the quality of life and limitless opportunities, which is why I’m always dismayed at the external perception — driven by factual inaccuracies — that oftentimes shape perception for those outside. It’s something that a unified St. Louis city and county can help rectify and something that must happen for the betterment of our region.”
— Aaron Perlut
“When I was leaving General Motors in Detroit, I started looking at all the lists for best places to live. Since I had lived in St. Louis previously and knew what a wonderful community it is, I was surprised to see it portrayed so negatively compared to other cities. When I dug deeper into the details, it was because it was not a true comparison size wise to other cities. I realized we were not showing the rest of the world the best of who we are but rather sabotaging ourselves because of our boundaries.”
— Cindy Brinkley
Dan Lohman, Pushup Social & Lab1500
“For St. Louis to reach its full potential and realize the success we are capable of, we must work toward city/county reunification. As a region we form the solid foundation needed to compete on a national level. We are experiencing tremendous momentum in the St. Louis startup ecosystem, and we have so much potential to be a leader in innovation. To continue this trajectory we must attract and retain the talent critical to fueling that innovation. Internal competition between the city and county is truly detrimental to growing, innovating, and attracting talent. Crime statistics and other byproducts of the separation only serve up barriers and hurdles for a solid St. Louis brand. Let’s unite as a region, come together as one team rowing in the same direction and take St. Louis to new heights.”
— Dan Lohman
“We all know that St. Louis is a great place to work and live. But to continue to attract the businesses and entrepreneurs that will build our future, we need a consolidated vision for the region. Some of our most treasured institutions — The St. Louis Zoo, The St. Louis Art Museum, The Missouri Botanical Gardens, and more recently The Great Rivers Greenway District — are products of regional management and funding. Now is the time to extend this successful model through the reunification of St. Louis City and St. Louis County.”
— Tom Carnahan
“The separation of city and county has been an obstacle to growth and continued prosperity for all Saint Louisans. The time of competing against each other needs to come to an end. We can jointly accomplish so much more through collaboration and efficiency rather than viewing one another as a potential burden to our existing way of life.
Both entities utilize the amazing resources of the entire metropolitan region. Residents, regardless of where they live, use the same parks, drive on the same highways, and visit the same, great area landmarks. It’s time to unify the efforts behind those resources instead of trying to determine which segment of the population should bear the financial burden for each.
In truth, the reunification of the city and county is reflective of the reality. As a business owner in downtown Saint Louis, I have employees from every corner of the metropolitan area. We are seeing a shift among our younger employees who increasingly choose to live in the city. Other employees are moving to the county as they progress to the next stage of their lives. Yet, these very same people all identify themselves as Saint Louisans. It’s time to start acting as such.”
— Matthew Porter
Robert Hermann, Sr.
“I was delighted when asked to add my name to the list of St. Louisans endorsing Unify STL – the current push to unite the City of St. Louis with St. Louis County. As a native St. Louisan, I have always been one of its proudest and most ardent supporters. My many civic endeavors have always been directed to promoting our great city. Perhaps one of my greatest regrets, is that I did not spend more time on inspiring and stimulating a City/County merger - a most ardent dream of mine. This reunification will bring out the best of each entity and make St. Louis a stronger and more vibrant community from a business, societal and economic standpoint. It’s time to stop talking and just do it! ”
— Robert Hermann, Sr.
Chris Danforth, Kennelwood Pet Resorts
“In one piece of legislation St. Louis would propel itself in the world stage, population numbers would push us into the top 20, corporate statistics would improve, crime rates statistics would decrease, and we would have one clear voice telling our unique story. Far too often St. Louis has unfairly been portrayed as a dangerous, declining city based on flawed data. Unification would allow us to easily disprove these questionable statistics and allow us to play on a level playing field.”
— Chris Danforth
Keith Harbison, Harbison Corporation
“St. Louis has many advantages and is loved by most of the residents of the community. Unfortunately St. Louis suffers from a perception issue which has dogged our community for decades. Like many other cities in the US, if you were to pull out only a small area of the community and look at the statistics from that limited sampling, the numbers would not be favorable. While we think of St. Louis as the SMSA, the rest of the world sees statistics which only relate to the city. By combining the city and the county, the size of our community would grow significantly in national rankings and our statistical averages in almost every category would look dramatically better.
Combining the city and county will not resolve other issues which make us noncompetitive, like our union situation and tax structure, but it would certainly be a big step in improving the first and most important issue people see when they look at St. Louis as a possible location for their business….PERCEPTION.”
— Keith Harbison
“My wife and I chose Saint Louis in 2001 because we wanted our children to grow up in the best of all communities, a place with sufficient critical mass to support great institutions, but a place also with a human scale where friendship trumps fame and coin. In a transient world, it becomes ever harder to be from anywhere. For us, it was not a hard choice between my wife’s home town (Detroit) and mine (Saint Louis) on that score. Centrifugal forces can cause cities to lose their critical mass; to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, they lose their “there.” We were tugged home by the gravitational pull of this great city, and we stand with those who want to keep the center strong for generations to come.”
— Wesley Jones
“Combining the city and county into a single unit would create a sense of ownership and commitment to the combined entity that doesn’t exist today. A neighborhood doesn’t have to also be a governmental unit for people to identify with it. For example, the Hill is a cohesive neighborhood, but doesn’t have its own government.”
— Jerry Schlichter
“I approach the merger of St. Louis City and County from the perspective of a person who is not a native St Louisan (and did not go to high school here!). I have grown to love “THE LOU”, its people and believe in its future. I firmly believe one of the main obstacles to St. Louis becoming a great city is that St. Louisans don’t believe it can be. Our town needs a renewed sense of community, pride, shared direction and destiny that could begin with the merger of St Louis City and County.
St Louis will survive and prosper as a region or we will continue our long painful slide to a place where no one wants to live and invest. A place our children want to leave because they see better opportunity elsewhere. I want to add my voice to others who seek a different outcome. I think we are a better community than that. We cannot hunker down in our own individual City, County bunkers and hope things will get better with everyone doing their own thing. Let’s do embrace something new together! Let’s think big! Let’s get this merger done!”
— Brian Murphy
“A strong city is critical to a strong St. Louis region. By combining resources and tax bases between the city and the county, both will prosper.”
— Bruce Olson
“City / County reunification is the future of St. Louis. Overnight our national statistics improve; Crime rates will go down and population statistics will rise. For the St. Louis region to evolve we all must look past the small town politics and keep our eye focused on the big picture. Competition is global not local!”
— Jay Steinback
“All the citizens of the St. Louis region share a common interest in our local treasures, and acting as one we can ensure a better and brighter future for our people and institutions.”
— Steve Maritz
“In a globally competitive economy, we cannot continue to spend $2 billion dollars annually to run all 116 governments in the city and county of St. Louis. These are funds we could be spending on upgrading our infrastructure, investing in bio-tech and our budding entrepreneurial sector, and providing the world class education our children deserve and need if we are to thrive. Unifying the city and the county would put us firmly on a path to future prosperity. We must act now.”
— Jorge Riopedre
Flint W. Fowler, Ph.D.
“In the ultra-competitive world of sports and bidding for high-profile events, I understand and repeatedly see how critical it is to function as an effective team. But beyond sports, St. Louis must come together more seamlessly as a community and a region in order to compete and thrive nationally and internationally.”
— Frank Viverito
John W. Sheehan
“St. Louis has so much to offer and we are all extremely proud of the heritage of our city. But the reality is, some of our antiquated ways of doing things have set us back over the last 100 years. I believe there is true progress right now and a real movement within the leadership of St. Louis to make change that will lead to significant growth for the next 100 years. Breaking down this imaginary wall between the city and county is another step in the right direction and is vital if we are going to continue to compete at the highest levels for economic growth.”
— John W. Sheehan
“Our challenges ignore political boundaries, and so must our solutions. We know that “St. Louis” is an incredible place, and no matter in which community we reside, we know that we’re all St. Louisans. This is how we know ourselves, and how the world knows us. Too often our political divisions prevent us from effectively capitalizing on our strengths and competing in the global economy. We live together and work together as individuals. It’s time that we tell our story together and build a better, more unified St. Louis.”
— Alex Ihnen
“Divided we fall, together we are stronger! I believe the county and city working together will allow for greater visibility and more inclusion of all citizens. We are stronger together!”