The regional economy of Saint-Louis threatened by the policy of a stalled draft convention
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The regional economy could face a loss of more than $ 100 million if a stalled expansion project at the America’s Center does not move forward, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The warning about the major economic loss comes from the head of the tourism office in charge of the $ 210 million project. It looks like there might be some politics involved.
An email from Kitty Ratcliffe, chairman of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, indicates that the economic losses would reach more than $ 100 million in six months. The email says the numbers represent the bare minimum and a definite loss to businesses in the region, the workforce of those businesses and the overall health of the region and state’s economy.
Ratcliffe’s email also warns that the city will lose major conventions if the expansion is not approved quickly. She listed in general terms 11 conventions that could be threatened. But she did not name any specifically.
The America’s Center expansion was first launched in 2018. The Post-Dispatch reports that plans include a new ballroom, pavilion and 92,000 square feet of new exhibition space. It should be done in 2023, but internal political struggles and the COVID pandemic have caused delays.
A spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said the city has closed its bonds for the project and it is now up to St. Louis County to approve its share of the funding. County Council Chairman Rita Heard Days accuses Ratcliffe of reneging on an agreement to build a recreation center in the north of the county in exchange for the county’s support for the expansion of the convention center.
Days says the county won’t be won over by the bad press and that the county is committed to getting its money’s worth. We will see what happens in this apparent political impasse.
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