The Tragic Death of Michael Brown Jr. Occurred Three Years Ago
Aug. 9, 2014, is a day the St. Louis region — and millions of people nationwide — will never forget. It’s now Aug. 9, 2017, meaning exactly three years have passed since the tragic death of Michael Brown Jr.
The civil unrest that followed left many businesses burned, looted and damaged. Hundreds of national media reports followed, covering a series of terrible events. Some business owners picked up the pieces and moved forward as best they could. Others were forced to close when foot traffic fell off.
Lots of progress has been made in North St. Louis County over the past three years, but Dellwood, Ferguson, Jennings and the surrounding communities need more support. The healing process will only speed up if thousands of people come together in a positive way to accomplish one goal.
Since taking office in 2015, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and his staff have provided a high level of support to the area. It has also benefitted by local efforts from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership (Partnership), Regional Business Council (RBC), North County Inc. (NCI) and many other organizations.
On a state and national level, Dellwood has leveraged partnerships with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), Region 7 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and several others to form new growth & redevelopment strategies.
In 2015, the U.S. government designated the St. Louis Promise Zone. The area includes Dellwood, Ferguson and Jennings. The program, which is staffed by the Partnership, strives to increase economic activity, improve educational outcomes, reduce serious & violent crime, invest in transformative development and improve health & wellness.
Promise Zone communities have high unemployment, high crime & mortality rates, significant numbers of vacant lots, abandoned buildings and homelessness. The designation, which lasts 10 years, is a catalyst for ongoing collaboration. It was designed to drive growth and create a better region.
Dellwood Mayor Reggie Jones, whose community of approximately 5,000 has a median household income of $43,210, wants the region to see the progress and know about redevelopment opportunities in his neighborhood. He also wants the business community to know about the private/public partnerships that are available.
“When you consider a history which spans nearly 70 years, the City of Dellwood has a lot to be proud of,” Jones said. “It has seen many periods of growth and prosperity. It’s no secret the past three years have been really tough on everyone in this community, but we feel like the pendulum is starting to swing in a positive way.”
In 2015, the Partnership was able to hire a Promise Zone Director and Economic Recovery Coordinator through a grant from the EDA. Those employees continue to help organize businesses, connecting them with resources, work to establish business associations and coordinate with various St. Louis County departments.
The Promise Zone (PZ) staff works with consultants to develop retail and commercial development programs as well as facilitate physical design improvements. It serves as the business liaison between small businesses and the Partnership.
The PZ staff also works with property and business owners in the West Florissant Avenue commercial corridor to research and identify special taxing options. The area has seen more than $10 million in new investments since the civil unrest, with approximately 240 jobs being created, six new businesses opening and three businesses being rebuilt.
“On behalf of everyone who lives and works in the St. Louis Promise Zone, I would like to sincerely thank our partners for their good work and continued support,” Jones added. “There’s no way we could have taken all of these steps in the right direction by ourselves. The St. Louis region is a terrific place to work, live and play — and that includes Dellwood. We hope business owners and developers will consider us moving forward because I truly believe the future looks bright.”
Dellwood highlights since the civil unrest in 2014:
- Received a $7 million bond to resurface streets and put up new signage
- Awarded a St. Louis Municipal Park grant to upgrade the baseball fields at Dellwood Park
- Received a $15,000 grant to expand a partnership with MBA students at Washington University’s Olin Business School
- Created the West Florissant Business Association
- Partnering with St. Louis County, the City of Ferguson and East-West Gateway Council of Governments on the West Florissant Great Streets project
- Working with the St. Louis County Port Authority on beautification projects and façade improvements to small businesses
- Working with the Partnership, private commercial property owners and Missouri Department of Natural Resources to begin Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessments of vacant commercial properties
- Working with Partnership and EPA’s 7th Region to do conceptual redevelopment plans for four commercial sites on West Florissant Avenue
Click here for more information on the City of Dellwood.