Exodus must be reversed

March 29, 2014 

Illinois and the St. Louis metro area aren't exactly hotbeds of growth, but their populations have increased modestly since the 2010 census. The same cannot be said for Madison and St. Clair counties.

The U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 population estimate for Madison County shows a loss of 2,050 residents, down 269,275 in 2010. St. Clair County lost an estimated 3,108 residents, down from 270,063.

Sadly, those falling numbers probably won't shock most people given the concerns about crime, poor schools and high unemployment rate in parts of the metro-east. But they should be a call to action.

The exodus is evidence that our political leaders' vision for growth and economic development isn't working. The same party and leadership have controlled both counties and most state legislative seats in the metro-east for decades. They have spent millions of tax dollars on public projects, social programs and tax incentives to private businesses, things that were supposed to improve our region's lot. And yet people are leaving; their plans haven't worked.

What are our political leaders going to do differently to change the trajectory? It's crucial that this trend not be allowed to continue.

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