Companies recruiting outside the region sell potential employees on affordable housing and quality of life, but face the perception that St. Louis is the place you go to start a family and have a house in the suburbs, (Willem) Bakker (executive director of the Information Technology Coalition) said. While that might appeal to some potential employees, he said, the city misses out on too many young people who don't want that life.If St. Louis is ever going to develop a reputation as a great place to both raise a family AND start a career right out of college, a strong downtown is the key.
(Benjamin) Akande, the (Webster University) business school dean, said it will take the arrival of more start-up companies, as well as public and private investments in areas such as green technology to reverse the trend of the outmigration of young people who are interested in high-tech careers.
"We can make all the excuses in the world on why we are not recognized for who we are in St. Louis and what we have to offer, but the reality is if we are recognized as a technology hub, the results will speak for itself," he said.
Young, creative, educated people - the people we want to attract - are drawn to thriving urban centers. If IT firms are looking to recruit the best and the brightest, locating their offices downtown will go a long way to that end. Young people don't want to work in a bland office park Maryland Heights, Chesterfield or St. Charles - they're looking for an exciting urban environment, something only downtown can provide.
St. Louis' IT community would be well-served by embracing downtown as its hub. Downtown could - and should - be our own version of San Francisco's SOMA district.