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The East-West Gateway Council of Governments has been getting a lot of attention recently.
Its review of tax increment financing in the St. Louis region showed that much of the hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies have created relatively few jobs. What one municipality gains in sales taxes from a new retail big box typically comes from fewer purchases in a neighboring jurisdiction. The ongoing study has sparked debate about reforming the process and East-West Gateway promises to remain the middle of these discussions.
The planning organization also has an important role in distributing federal stimulus funds. It established the criteria and made the decisions awarding over $58,000,000 to local government projects in the area.
East-West Gateway’s higher profile is good news for regional governmental cooperation within the St. Louis metropolitan area. It is the only place where the chief elected executives from the region’s seven largest counties and the City of St. Louis gather monthly to discuss how to work together more effectively to improve the region. They are joined by Illinois and Missouri state officials as well as other elected local officeholders.
Enhancing East-West Gateway’s authority and elevating its visibility is a major step forward to St. Louis getting its regional act together.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.