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Does the St. Louis region have too many independent public school districts?

The state pulled the trigger Thursday on the proposed merger of the Wellston and Normandy school districts. The idea was to help those students in Wellston by putting them in a larger, adjacent district. This is an unusual move, though it opens up consideration of the concept: if it is thought to be good for Wellston, how about other districts that are struggling either academically or financially?

Concern over troubled school districts is continually brought up during Renewing the Region discussion sessions throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. Participants point out the varying degrees of quality offered by different districts, yet no one seems to have a handle on what

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Public participation needed, as well as a broader view by public officials

At a Renewing the Region session in Collinsville, the participants focused on the need for public to become more active in efforts to improve the region. Too often, it was said, people did not get involved in an issue unless it was “their ox getting gored.” The public often does not pay attention to regional interests. The Missouri side of St. Louis fights with Metro East and then Belleville fights with Belleville East, instead of working together for common solutions. Even economic development, which has obvious regional effects, is seen and promoted on a parochial level.

Issues such as air quality and flooding occur without respect to local boundaries

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Franklin County residents express concern about agriculture

This Renewing the Region group session held in Franklin County raised concerns about agriculture. Farming can be labor intensive for some crops and that can make farming cost prohibitive. Wage stagnation in farming has led some away from raising labor-intensive crops.

Franklin County has been hit by the decline of the auto and construction industries and as a result has high unemployment numbers. Both in the short term and the long term, Franklin County needs an emphasis on making sure residents get the necessary training and education to get jobs in businesses and industries that can create sustainable jobs that retain workers.

Also, some at the meeting pointed

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Change focus from big industry to entrepreneurship

At a Renewing the Region group meeting at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, much of the talk centered on a need to change the region’s focus from manufacturing and big business to supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. A lot of dreary news has been reported about the demise of local auto manufacturing with the closing of the Chrysler and Ford plants, and those jobs may not come back at the same volume as before, yet that does not mean there will be no manufacturing jobs. It could mean that the field will diversify and as labor costs and fuel expense rise overseas, certain types of manufacturing jobs could

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St. Louis as Hollywood’s back-lot: as an economic indicator, there’s been progress in the last 30 years

“Up in the Air,” the new movie that stars George Clooney as a man who flies around the country firing people from their jobs, has gotten a lot of good reviews. As all of us know who endured the media hysterics when George was here for filming, many of the scenes were shot at the somewhat depopulated Lambert Airport and other parts of St. Louis.

As judged by economic impact, filming a movie in St. Louis is a good deal. People come to town and spend money. Yet as an economic indicator of how St. Louis is viewed, let’s admit that often films are done here for not

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