Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

While perusing some old Business Journal articles, I came across a commentary piece from April 2006 in which a cross-section of area executives were asked what advice they would give to Kitty Ratcliffe, who had just been hired to lead the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.

The executives featured in the piece were:

Madolena Key of Mannerisms LLC

Deborah Moulton of Microsoft Alliance

Trey Goede of Primary Networks

Rudy Telscher of Harness, Dickey & Pierce

Tom Taylor of Lawrence & Associates, Inc.

Scott Bartholomew of TGI Marketing Communications

Most of the suggestions were great, and the majority of them focused on improving downtown St. Louis. Here are the two that stood out most to me:

“While Ms. Ratcliffe's position focuses on the Convention Center and attracting visitors to St. Louis, her job will be made much easier if St. Louis can continue to successfully develop areas like the Washington Street Loft District and Ballpark Village by creating desirable living spaces for St. Louis residents in those areas. The more people who live in downtown St. Louis, the better the ability to sustain active nightlife that serves to attract more visitors and make St. Louis a more attractive convention city.”

--Rudy Telscher

"It would be a good idea if the city began fixing the infrastructure around America's Center, such as making sure that the St. Louis Centre project gets under way after years of foot dragging, that the old Dillard's store gets converted to something useful, and that the ugly skybridge between both buildings gets removed so there is not a visual impairment to Laclede's Landing. How about the city taking the lead in adding restaurants and shopping near the convention center?"

--Scott Bartholomew

They’re right – a vital downtown is critical to St. Louis’ success as a convention and vacation city, and it’s great to see that we have business leaders who grasp that concept. All of the suggestions made would go a long way toward helping St. Louis and making the CVC’s job easier.


A little research reveals that not one of these executives’ businesses is located in downtown St. Louis:

Mannerisms LLC – Defiance
Microsoft Alliance – St. Charles
Primary Networks – Maryland Heights
Harness, Dickey & Pierce – Clayton
Lawrence & Associates, Inc. – Des Peres
TGI Marketing Communications – Clayton

And herein lies one of downtown’s greatest problems. People are quick to point out its problems and say things like, “The city should do this or do that,” but they’re not willing to “walk the walk” and make a real commitment to help downtown by locating their business there.

What if, instead of waiting for the Dillard’s Building to “get converted to something useful,” these businesses decided to move their offices there? The result would be instant revitalization of an important block, and the added office workers would help bring about new businesses, such as bars and restaurants, and perhaps downtown would gain some new residents as well.

Since these people seem to realize just how important the success of downtown really is, perhaps they could be persuaded to move downtown…

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