Ever since Anheuser-Busch and InBev came to terms on their merger/takeover, I have been thinking a lot about St. Louis’ future. Whether or not St. Louis retains an important role in the Anheuser-Busch InBev corporate structure, there is no doubt that changes are on the way.
With all the closures, takeovers and relocations St. Louis has seen in recent years, we could always take solace in the fact that the King of Beers called St. Louis home. I’m sure I’m not alone in always feeling a bit of (misplaced) pride every time I hear the tagline “Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Missouri” at the end of and A-B commercial. It was that one truly bright spot of international recognition that we could always hold on to. But now, its gone.
Obviously this isn’t some sort of Doomsday, but it is yet another eye-opener for the St. Louis community. In the end, this newly combined company might bring in even more tax dollars to the area, but we are going to lose an important chip in the game of marketing. Image is everything for big cities, and we are losing a major part of our long-term image.
I’m really proud of a lot of the things that have happened in the City in the past ten years, but we need to wake up and pick up our game. Stalled projects next to ballparks and new marketing slogans for the Division of Tourism don’t make people remember who we are. If we don’t step outside the box we have built for ourselves, we will continue to decline. We need to quit looking back to 1904 and start lookign ahead to the future.
The City needs to stop going on and on about projects like Ballpark Village, which they have little control over, and start worrying about things they have the power and ability to do something about. Hideous and unfunctional streetscapes through major corridors, a riverfront that would make Mark Twain cry, unsynchronized stop lights that make a five minute drive take ten, seemingly ignoring the concept of beatification in many areas: these are issues they can and should handle.
Why should any business take on the extra burden of a local earning tax if the local government can’t even provide these basic services? What can they offer that businesses can’t get in Clayton or Chesterfield? Its time for a reinvention. It’s time to show people what St. Louis can do. And it needs to start from square one.