I’ve been writing for Forbes for about three years, and in December 2011, I wrote a piece called “St. Louis Doesn’t Suck.”
The reaction shocked me. Typically my stuff is read by marketers, not moms from St. Charles. This one hit a nerve. Some fired off some negative comments but most people who read it were pretty fired up in a positive way.
The irony was that I wasn’t trying to suggest a new slogan for St. Louis or create some great strategic debate. More than anything I was venting, as not unlike other major metro areas I’d watched – from inside the region’s publicity efforts – as we’d stepped all over ourselves for the six and half years I’d lived in St. Louis.
As a result, greater St. Louis has struggled to define itself to those living outside metro-St. Louis — costing us jobs, political conventions, bright minds, and new companies that may have moved here otherwise.
Following the story, my partner Brian Cross and I were approached by some influential people in the business community. They suggested we take the excitement generated by “St. Louis Doesn’t Suck” and work to create a vehicle that harnessed the apparent interest in community collaboration to better define what makes greater St. Louis a great place in which to live, work, eat pork, attend school, start a business, watch a ballgame, raise a family, or dance.
A few of us concepted an idea that’s quite unlike anything done anywhere – ever. We then quietly shopped it across the region to influencers – from the RCGA to the CVC, Civic Progress, the Regional Business Council, the St. Louis County Economic Development Council. We talked to executives with the Rams and Cardinals, businesses like Commerce Bank, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Fusz Automotive and Hardee’s; non-profits like the Danforth Plant Science Center and the United Way; and elected leaders like St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Clair County (Illinois) Executive Mark Kern.
And despite making it clear to these leaders that our concept required the relinquishing of control, as well as harnessing the creativity of our citizens in order to work effectively — there was no political wrangling, no turf wars, no overly conservative reservations about an idea that might eventually help put St. Louis at the forefront of progressive endeavors. Nada.
To a person – what we kept hearing was, “I love this. Tell me what I can do to help this happen.”
There was still a hill to climb, however. We had an idea, but like everything these days – we needed economic support to get it off the ground and get the greater St. Louis region involved.
And quite frankly, that’s when we got to see who was really interested in seeing our region thrive in a collaborative way – visionary St. Louisans like John and David Kemper, Lee Broughton and Andy Taylor, Phil Fusz, Jenna Petroff, Joe Reagan, Steve Johnson, Kitty Ratcliffe, Brian Hall, Tom Irwin, Kathy Osborn, and Katie Jamboretz.
As citizens of the greater St. Louis region – I can assure you that we each owe them a hearty thanks for, above all else, being more interested in seeing our region progress and grow.
And with that we introduce the final product: Rally St. Louis, a community-powered platform designed to harness the creativity and passion of residents and establish the region as a great place to work, live and play
We’ll be rolling out details in full beginning November 14. Until, hold tight and get ready to participate and contribute. We need you all.