Remember the Montreal Expos? Before moving to Washington, D.C. to become the Washington Nationals, the Expos had one of the best farm teams in baseball, grooming numerous players who would go on to become all-stars. The only problem was, once their prospects blossomed into all-stars, the Expos couldn't afford to keep them. Sometimes I worry that St. Louis is like a farm team that exports its brightest young people to other cities.
While shopping in a downtown store before Christmas, I overheard a group of women (in their early 60s, approximately my parents’ age) discussing their kids and their plans for the holidays. One woman’s son was in Chicago, her daughter in Portland. Another had kids in Dallas and Atlanta. New York, Boston and San Francisco were also mentioned as the topic of conversation revolved around how difficult it is to get everyone together around the holidays.
I didn’t hear any of the women mention having kids still living in St. Louis; it sounded like they had all decided to leave. While this was certainly not a scientific poll by any stretch of the imagination, it worried me a little to think of all these young people who could be living here and contributing their talents and skills to their hometown but aren’t.
What made them want to leave? Certainly simple wanderlust could have been a factor, but it’s clear that St. Louis is lacking something that other popular cities have – a thriving downtown - which young people find particularly appealing.
People who make the decisions as to the locations of their offices need to know that by choosing downtown, they're helping make St. Louis a more energetic, more fun place to live. A place where their children will want to live after they finish college.