There’s good news about Amazon HQ2, even though we haven’t even hit the Oct. 19 deadline for the application. The effort to attract the new headquarters, 50,000 jobs averaging $100K and $5 billion in investment really appears to have inspired a kumbaya moment for the region.
The St. Louis region’s bid includes real estate with some of the greatest potential in the area, along the riverfront in St. Clair County. They won’t say exactly where, but the potential of the East St. Louis riverfront has been recognized for decades by both visionaries and scoundrels.
The bid also appears to be taking a smart approach. Sportscaster Joe Buck and Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee are part of the pitch, and the message doesn’t duck the race issues that fueled riots in Ferguson and after the Jason Stockley verdict.
“This is a city that has a lot of character and grit, and yeah there’s some bruises, but there’s an opportunity here to make a difference,” said Matt Menietti, who runs GlobalHack, a non-profit technology start-up that brings youngsters into computer coding and fosters social change within communities.
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Buck also said this is a good region to call home, but with some decline and decay that Amazon could help fix.
“You can come in, and this can really be your town. Anheuser-Busch isn’t what it was. A lot of our identity, businesswise, is gone, so this is a major opportunity,” Buck told KMOX-AM 1120 radio.
East and West are divided by a river, but since 1867 we’ve regularly figured out how to build bridges. Win or lose, the Amazon bid is a good device for taking stock of this region, figuring out how to work together and recognizing that our unifying culture and values and interests shape this region much more than the divisions.