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How Cities Like St. Louis Are Building Dynamic Communities

Here’s why this city, known as the Gateway to the West, should be on your radar as a place to open a business, go to school, or even start a family.

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St. Louis has long been bucking the “flyover” moniker commonly applied to cities in the center of the country. And with the help of its citizens, including government officials, academics, and businesspeople, its reputation is growing more positive by the minute.

Organizations such as Ameren Accelerator, powered by the University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate, and Capital Innovators, are likewise focused on improving that reputation. Thanks to hard work and creative planning, St. Louis is now being considered one of America’s top up-and-comers. Here’s why this city, known as the Gateway to the West, should be on your radar as a place to open a business, go to school, or even start a family.

1. Parks

St. Louis is home to several parks rich with history and culture, including Citygarden, Tower Grove Park, Lafayette Park, and Forest Park. Many of these are run through public-private partnerships, the most well-known being Forest Park. Since 2015, Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park’s Future has been raising money to restore the park and maintain this “civic treasure” for years to come.

2. Cuisine

St. Louis has a cuisine all its own, which is drawing praise from the foodie crowd. Beyond unique pizzas, fried ravioli, and gooey butter cake, new chefs and gastronomic hot spots are getting press for a new wave of culinary experimentation. Restaurants like Vicia are drawing national attention for their use of local ingredients and their owners’ prestigious résumés. This attention is also luring people to St. Louis from across the country for culinary trips and events.

3. Colleges and Jobs

When it comes to higher education, St. Louis definitely makes the grade. According to SmartAsset, St. Louis has moved up to the No. 10 spot (from No. 29 in 2016) on its list of the best cities for recent college graduates.

Beyond getting a job post-graduation, it pays to attend college in St. Louis. With schools like top-ranked Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis University (which turns 200 this year), Harris-Stowe State University (a historically black university), and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, there is considerable diversity in the city’s higher education offerings. This enables more people in St. Louis and its surrounding areas to access the college education that can help them better themselves.

4. Hospitals

St. Louis has some of the best hospitals in the country. For the 25th year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine among the nation’s best hospitals, including them in its 2017-18 Best Hospitals Honor Roll.

In addition, other St. Louis-area hospital chains, such as SSM Health and Mercy, have made the list of “most wired” hospitals in the U.S., indicating that St. Louis hospitals are constantly looking for ways to innovate patient health. Having this level of care within reach is an enormous benefit to the people of St. Louis, offering them a way to get the vital healthcare they need to improve their quality of life.

5. Entrepreneurial Spirit

As home to such companies as Nestlé Purina, Express Scripts, Enterprise Holdings, and Panera Bread, St. Louis is a great place to enjoy the economic perks that large companies bring to an area. Besides these corporate giants, St. Louis boasts a growing network of financial support and expert guidance to ensure new companies succeed, making the city a great place to start a business.

Ameren Accelerator is one of these new support systems for entrepreneurs. According to Ameren CEO Warner Baxter, “The Ameren Accelerator is one of the first of its kind in the country to focus exclusively on energy technologies.” Entrepreneur reports that the accelerator, “which recently chose seven energy technology startups for its first-round cohort, aims to provide promising new companies with funding, perks, benefits, office space, and intensive mentoring. The goal is for the accelerator program to help ensure their success and drive innovation in the energy industry that benefits future residents.”

In addition, there is Arch Grants, St. Louis’s startup competition and community, which is furthering the progress many local entrepreneurs have made. This startup community and accelerators like Ameren’s provide a formal framework and mentoring group to foster new startups’ growth.

6. Organizations

To create a better future, there is a comprehensive network of organizations designed to promote the social good, community service, and positive action. These include economic- and innovation-oriented organizations like Venture Café, T-REX, and the Cortex Innovation Community, as well as cultural groups such as the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, Forest Park Forever, Great Rivers Greenway, The International Institute of St. Louis, St. Louis Mosaic Project, and Downtown STL, Inc. These are just a few of the nonprofit organizations St. Louis citizens can get involved in to make changes to their city and transform it into something better.

Room for You

St. Louis and its citizens are ready to welcome more entrepreneurs and a new generation of neighbors with open arms. Many hands and innovative ideas can make light work of turning this city into an even more dynamic and thriving place to call home.

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