By Joe Sweeney
As we near the rollout for the Destination Missouri digital and publication project, I’ve been on the road lately. A lot. I think I’ve worn a groove into I-70 and roads into southern Missouri on trips across the state, and hours behind the wheel lend themselves to thoughts about this great state and region.
The first is that we are incredibly blessed to have two metro areas like St. Louis and Kansas City tethering either end of Missouri. Each community’s economic and lifestyle interests complement the other’s in ways that strengthen the whole.
When you look at what St. Louis brings to plant research, and what Kansas City offers as the epicenter of the animal-health corridor, this region is uniquely positioned to stake a large claim on life sciences that will be the envy of the nation.
When you consider the quality of life of each, and the way baseball fans celebrate the success of their pro teams, you can’t help but be drawn into that action. And granted, the Cardinals—rightly—have a longer hsitory of fan excitement and en-gagement going for them.
When you consider the other shared factors, such as Midwestern work ethic, terrific universities, reas-
onably low tax structures, outstanding health-care delivery and any of a dozen other factors, it’s easy to see why I’m so bullish on the state’s future.
I make these comparisons as someone who has lived and worked in both cities. It’s just hard for me to work up any animosity to the Cardinals, even when they’re playing the Royals. Maybe that’s because of the number of great days I spent hoping to snag a foul ball as a youth in the old Busch Stadium—where, by the way, my great aunt, Sister Teresa Marie, served as the unofficial team chaplain for the baseball Cardinals throughout the 1960s and into the early ’70s.
Ironically, when I lived in St. Louis in the ’90s, I had a plaque in my office with a photo of the infamous bad call of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series and a brass plate below it simply reading “Shit Happens.” Talk about quick tempers. I’m still amused about the emotions it triggers to diehard fans.
It’s always amusing to hear people in Kansas City speak with a tinge of envy about what they see happening in St. Louis, and wondering why we can’t be more like our older sister to the east. But as I’ve observed over the years, people in St. Louis are looking west and wondering why Kansas City seems to be achieving at such a high level, rebuilding Downtown, creating the Power & Light District, planning for a new convention hotel and embarking on a streetcar project (though the jury’s still out on whether streetcars will serve the public here the way St. Louis’ light-rail system works there).
Candidly, both markets include numerous citizens that suffer from an inferiority complex, and it really needs to go away. More than 30 years ago, when I could have gone anywhere to build a career, I voted with my feet and stayed put. And I’ve never regretted it for a moment.
Each city, of course, has its challenges—but what metro area doesn’t? The national focus on Ferguson, the potential loss of the St. Louis Rams football franchise and a scandal over potential computer shenanigans in the front office of the Cardinals should in no way diminish what the city has going for it. Likewise, the uproar over claims of All-Star voting ballot-stuffing by Royals fans and the criticisms of our business-incentive policies in Kansas City does little to take the shine off what it means to live, work and play here, as well.
In a time of a (marginally) growing economy, both cities are doing well and they’re particularly poised for much larger success. And I’m rooting for both cities to enjoy a time of relative peace and harmony.
At least until the Cardinals and Royals clash in the World Series. If we get that matchup, no matter which team wins the title, Missouri will emerge the clear winner.
And that’s as it should be.
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