The Wildcat Roar

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Why Do Businesses Leave Saint Louis?

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With the recent purchase of cafe powerhouse Panera by JAB Holding Co., the trend of large corporations buying out and moving the headquarters of Saint Louis companies has become more evident. Also, the recent purchase of Monsanto by Germany’s Bayer for a whopping 66 billion has added yet another tally to the exits of company’s headquarters from Saint Louis. The trigger of the exodus of businesses started in 2001 when TWA was bought out by American Airlines and ditched Lambert-St.Louis Airport. In 2008, Anheuser Busch was bought out by Belgian beer force In-Bev; thus, the headquarters moved across the Atlantic to Belgium. Those two companies are just the tip of an iceberg with dozens of companies that have said goodbye to our region.

Although some tend to point their fingers at the racial strife, or businesses offshoring their headquarters, but years of bad politics and policies can be a more definitive explanation.

The economic hardships for STL can be traced as far back as 1881 where local officials charged railroad companies large tariffs to cross the Eads bridge; as a result, the companies decided to reroute through Chicago. The diversion of railroad traffic made Chicago an industrial hub instead of the Gateway City. A century later, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Washington silently slid legislation through that left businesses vulnerable to monopolies. In Saint Louis, the laws that had been in place had nurtured the economic and industrial growth, but when the new pro-monopoly laws place it began to stagnate and decrease growth. In 1978, Carter lead an Airline deregulation act, and within two and a half decades it caused Saint Louis’s local airlines to depart (Ozark and TWA).

All hope is not lost. Saint Louis is still a hub for post-industrial technology, with booming corporations such as World Wide Technologies and NGA. Also, Edward Jones has found a niche in this city, and has built sparkling new offices alongside 270. RGA also has its headquarters in Chesterfield.

Trust laws and acts have not been kind to Saint Louis, but that does not mean that businesses will never return here. This town has advantages geographically and historically, and businesses will return. The growing tech corporations are putting Saint Louis back on the economic map.

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Why Do Businesses Leave Saint Louis?