Economic justice

University student aid, MLK Drive redevelopment among mayor’s ‘economic justice’ goals | Policy

ST. LOUIS — A financial aid program for colleges and the creation of an “innovation, cultural arts and business district” along Martin Luther King Drive are among a long list of ideas for economic justice presented Monday by Mayor Tishaura O. Jones.

The plan adds some detail to the mayor’s announcement last week that she wants to use $150 million of the city’s remaining $249 million in federal bailout funds to revitalize the economically depressed North Side.

But the plan, called “Roadmap to Economic Justice,” stops short of indicating how much of the $249 million it would ask the Board of Aldermen to earmark for specific programs. Instead, it lists a wide range of ideas that could be considered.

And while the plan includes many elements that would largely help the Black North Side, which includes many low-income neighborhoods, some programs could help other parts of the city as well.

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“I ran for mayor to ensure that every neighborhood in St. Louis can thrive, and we cannot succeed as a city if we let more than half fail,” Jones said in an introduction to the document. .

“Building a more equitable St. Louis begins with investing directly in people and communities – especially our most marginalized.”

As for college aid, the plan features a “College Promise” initiative that would provide “all high school seniors with financial support” for short-term post-secondary education and/or certification programs.

However, it does not provide further details, such as whether restrictions on family income would be involved. “I can’t say at this time what it’s going to look like,” said mayor’s spokesman Nick Desideri.

The redevelopment of MLK Drive, according to the plan, would promote “the advancement of black residents and businesses.”

Part of the city’s first round of $249 million in ARPA money — $9.6 million — is already being allocated to grants to businesses and nonprofits along MLK Drive from Jefferson Avenue to the west to the city limits.

The street has new lights and a few long-standing businesses, but crime and pestilence remain a problem.

That’s included in the $37 million approved earlier this month by the Board of Aldermen and pending Jones’ signature. The bill, sponsored by Aldermanic Chairman Lewis Reed, also includes funds to strengthen nine other main streets on the north side.

Jones’ plan also calls for identifying “priority buildings” for stabilization and redevelopment, such as the Wellston Loop station, the former Imperial Club building and the Goodfellow Boulevard federal complex on the north side and the Soulard Market and the vacant Cleveland High School on the South. Side.

The long-empty Municipal Courts building downtown is also listed, as is funding for a proposed north-south MetroLink line.

Jones’ plan also includes technical assistance and a revolving loan fund to help minority and women-owned small businesses; a year-round youth employment program; acquisition and refurbishment of vacant school buildings; extend high-speed broadband access to low-income areas and rehabilitate vacant buildings where possible and demolish others if necessary.

The plan also includes $96 million in economic justice-related components already funded in the city’s allocation from ARPA’s first round of funding.

He also references the Jones administration’s efforts to demand that developers get tax incentives to include affordable housing and neighborhood benefits.

Desideri said the mayor continues to solicit community feedback on ARPA’s next funding cycle through a digital survey. He also said the administration is planning two town hall meetings next month and is also seeking input from aldermen.

Posted at 9 p.m. Monday, April 25.


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