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Issue: 1186 Date: 5/16/2013
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Plan advances for a merged city-county economic development agency

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        CLAYTON - A plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County economic development efforts advanced Tuesday when the County Council introduced legislation to establish the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

        Hailed by business leaders this year, the new body's role would be to guide the St. Louis region's joint efforts to attract, retain and expand businesses. It's intended to provide a unified voice for the region, officials said.

        The partnership would be based in Clayton. The target date to begin operation is July 1.

        The St. Louis Board of Aldermen already is considering similar legislation.

        In February, St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced that the Economic Development Partnership would be created. Dooley championed it as "greater collaboration between the city and county as a way to propel our region forward."

        Slay said in a news release: "By projecting one voice and making it easier to interact with our region, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership will be better positioned to attracting new companies and investment in St. Louis."

        Merger of the two governments has been discussed for decades. While areas of city-county cooperation have increased over the years, the creation of this partnership from two quasi-government business agencies is considered a significant step.

        However, it's not a complete consolidation of economic development functions, said Andrew C. Ruben, who is general counsel of the County Economic Council. He would remain as general counsel for the new organization.

        According to the bill introduced, the St. Louis County Economic Council would change its name to St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. Ten employees of the city's St. Louis Development Corp. would move to the new agency and would be supported by an annual commitment of about $1 million. The agency's responsibilities would include business development, business financing and entrepreneurial support.

        The city's St. Louis Development Corp. would retain control of all real estate redevelopment in the city and the city's Port Authority, Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority and other city entities.

        Denny Coleman, now president and CEO of the St. Louis County Economic Development Council, would serve as chief executive officer of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. Rodney Crim, executive director at St. Louis Development Corp., would serve as president of the new organization with primary responsibility for services in the city.

        Also, Dooley announced in a letter to the county council Tuesday that he has named Valerie E. Patton to the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District board.

        Patton is executive director of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative, a nonprofit organization. She previously was a vice president of Bank of America.

        She replaces on the MSD board Eddie Ross, whose term has expired. Patton's term expires March 14, 2017. (By Margaret Gillerman St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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