One Future, One Community

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.

Cheryl Jones

President/CEO, Girls Incorporated of Saint Louis

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!
— Cheryl Jones

Alex Ihnen

Owner and Editor, nextSTL.com

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

John W. Sheehan

Senior Vice President / Market Manager, CBS Radio

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

Frank Viverito

President, St. Louis Sports Commission

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

Tom Carnahan

President, Wind Rose Energy Partners

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

Gwendolyn Packnett, Ph.D.

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Missouri-St. Louis

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

Jorge Riopedre

Executive Director, Casa de Salud

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

Brian Murphy

President & Managing Member, BAM Contracting LLC

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 embrace something new together! Let’s think big! Let’s get this merger done!
— Brian Murphy

Joe Edwards

Owner, Blueberry Hill
Loop Developer

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

Martin Mathews

President and CEO, Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club

This country was founded on ‘We the people.’ Cooperation and togetherness are the principles that make all things great possible.
— Martin Mathews

Steve Maritz

Chairman and CEO, Maritz Holdings Inc.

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

Aaron Perlut

Partner, Elasticity

I moved to St. Louis with my family in 2006 and have fallen in love with the quality of life and limitless opportunities here. It’s why I’m always dismayed at the external perception — largely driven by factual inaccuracies — that oftentimes shapes opinion for those outside. A unified St. Louis city and county will help rectify this and it’s something that must happen for the betterment of our region.
— Aaron Perlut

Jay Steinback

CEO, Rothman Furniture Stores

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

Bruce Olson

President and Co-Owner, BBI Group

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

Jerome J. Schlichter

Founding & Managing Partner
Schlichter Bogard & Denton LLP

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

Tom Stillman

Chairman and Governor, St. Louis Blues
Chairman and CEO, Summit Distributing

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

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge

Airport Director, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

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

Vincent C. Schoemehl, Jr.

President & CEO, Grand Center, Inc.

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 of 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.

Maxine Clark

Founder, Build-A-Bear Workshop

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