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Book Chapter

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St. Louis Currents (5th Edition)


In May 2011, the Missouri legislature adjourned without passing an economic stimulus bill that included an “Aerotropolis” at Lambert Airport in St. Louis. The idea behind it was to create a hub for international trade, particularly with China, through a series of tax credits for those forwarding goods to foreign destinations and incentives for those building the facilities to support that commerce.1 On the surface, it seemed like a bold innovation to connect Missouri, located in the center of the United States, with the global trade far from its borders by envisioning St. Louis as a “gateway zone” for goods. This new concept is not very new at all—St. Louis was founded on much the same premise and has continued to build around this “hinge economy” connecting regions, the nation, and the world. Since its inception, Missouri’s economy has been an international one; indeed, the region’s greatest economic growth had strong foundations in the efforts of public-private partnerships to nurture Missouri’s role in international markets and commerce. And, as with the aerotropolis proposal, government played a role in the development of the Missouri economy and its directions.

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