Celebrating World Cup Soccer in St. Louis

By Matt Hoffman

As the 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil, it serves as a great reminder of St. Louis’ storied soccer history.  St. Louis is decidedly a soccer town, as well as one of the major birthplaces of the game in the United States. The St. Louis region has produced scores of professional soccer players over the years, including five members of the famous 1950 U.S. World Cup team, which defeated England in a shocking upset. That team featured several stars from The Hill neighborhood, including goalkeeper Frank Borghi. To learn more about Borghi, who worked for years as a funeral director in St. Louis, and the 1950 World Cup, read this 2011 Post-Dispatch interview .

The presence of large populations of Italian, Irish, German, and Bosnian immigrants, combined with a thriving youth soccer scene, has produced an enthusiastic and longstanding soccer fan base in St. Louis. Given this rich history, it is no surprise that the region offers a variety of bars and restaurants where fans can gather to watch and talk soccer. The Riverfront Times recently compiled a list of “ The 7 Best Places to Watch the 2014 World Cup in St. Louis ,” which features several excellent locations throughout the St. Louis area.

The World Cup is a great time to not only appreciate St. Louis’ soccer tradition, but also to get out, enjoy a game or two, and discover a new neighborhood!

Intro to Public Health – Better Together TV – Episode 24

Better Together is embarking on our third study: Public Health. Over the next couple of months, we will examine the role of local governments in providing public health services. In this episode, Dave Leipholtz sits down with Marius Johnson to discuss the study as a whole. Dave and Marius chat about goals, potential challenges, and the types of insights Better Together will be seeking from community health leaders. Later in the show, Joe Wilson visits the West County municipality of Ballwin.

Notes from the Compton Heights Neighborhood Association Meeting

By Joe Wilson

Sunday evening I visited the Compton Heights neighborhood, where enormous trees and well-kept houses line either side of the street. I was there to speak to the neighborhood association about the work that Better Together is doing. What I saw looked more like a neighborhood BBQ: Neighbors stood around sipping on beer, wine and soda. Friends caught up on neighborhood gossip while their kids played, using sticks for swords. It was relaxed, informal, and most of all friendly.

I stood and spoke for a few minutes explaining what Better Together is, what we do, and what we hope to accomplish. I tried to give very brief overviews of the public finance report and economic development report that have been released already.

Every time I go to these meetings, I look into the faces of people who are genuinely concerned for their neighborhood, for their city or municipality, for their business and livelihood, and for the area they call home. Better Together representatives get asked hard questions because the people asking care about their community enough to show up to meetings on a Sunday night, or in bad weather, or when they would rather be at home with family. The region is full of people who care, and we are all fortunate for that.

Cortex Stars in Brookings Institute Report

By Joe Wilson

A major project in St. Louis got some positive press this week . The Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive think tank, issued a report titled “The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America.” The report is, of course, speaking about Cortex, the high-tech innovation center that has slowly risen above Highway 40 between Vandeventer and Kingshighway.

The report describes the difference between research parks, which house companies in relatively isolated ways, and innovation centers, which try to build density and increase the collaboration among entities and individuals in the area. St. Louis is placed alongside such major world cities as Berlin, London, Seoul, and Stockholm, and among American cities including Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Diego.

A separate interview with one of the report’s authors again mentions our very own Cortex alongside the likes of the Cambridge Innovation Center and the Eindhoven in Holland. These are projects that use the design of the innovation center to help spur serendipitous meetings between those making use of the available resources, in order to encourage the collaborative creation of new ideas. Hopefully, those new ideas mean a growing economy for the region as well.

Part of Better Together’s economic development report is focused on the use of tax increment financing. Much has been made of the irresponsible use of this economic development tool, but Cortex is one example of a “good TIF.” Using TIF to encourage the expansion of the next-generation economy here in our region could mean growth in an area that needs it quite desperately. Not every TIF is used well, but hopefully over time, it will play out that the TIF for the Cortex facility will be worth a great deal more than the TIF provided for it.

BTTV – Economic Development in STL: The Immigrant Experience – Episode 23

Some of the most vital findings of our Economic Development Study revolve around the immigrant community in the St. Louis region. It’s imperative that we make our region attractive to immigrants. From an economic development standpoint, that often means simplifying and clarifying the process to start a business. Tonight, we speak with Anna Crosslin, President and CEO of the International Institute, about immigrants’ experiences here and how we can make the region even friendlier to our newcomers.

BTTV – What We Found, Part 2 – Episode 22

We released the findings of our Economic Development study on May 14, and the response has been incredible. In this episode, we continue our two-part discussion of the study. Dave is joined by Better Together Executive Director Nancy Rice, as well as Community Study Coordinator Marius Johnson and Research Fellow Joe Wilson. Plus, we take a look at a recent sponsored discussion at Pi at the MX, where we gained great insights from a variety of business owners and entrepreneurs.

BTTV – Episode 21 – Economic Development: What We Learned (Part 1)


In this episode, we begin a two-part discussion of the Economic Development Study. Our findings encompass the experiences and stories of more than 1,500 individuals. First on the show, Dave is joined by Better Together Executive Director Nancy Rice, as well as Community Study Coordinator Marius Johnson and Research Fellow Joe Wilson. The group discusses findings related to tax increment financing (TIF), in particular. We also take a look at a recent sponsored discussion at T-REX, where the Better Together team gained great insights from a variety of entrepreneurs.

BTTV – Economic Development & Immigrant Communities


In this episode, we talk with members of St. Louis’ large immigrant community. We owe much of our prosperity, our diversity, and our cultural capital to those who have left their countries of origin and moved to St. Louis.

We begin the show down at Taft Street Restaurant, where we talk with Sadik Kukic. In addition to being the owner of this popular Gravois Street restaurant, Mr. Kukic is the president of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce.

Also on the show, we report from our recent event at the International Institute of St. Louis. The International Institute invited Better Together to a discussion with a wide variety of immigrant business owners, so that we could learn about their experiences, their successes, and their challenges.

BTTV – Episode 019 – Start Up & Grow, Part 3

In this episode of BTtv, we continue our discussion of what economic development looks like in the 21 st century. Back at T-REX, we chat again with Rasheed Sulaiman, creative director at LockerDome and CEO of Goparti.

Then, we catch up with the team behind Greetabl. Zoë Scharf and Joe Fischer’s company stands out among T-REX start-ups, because it’s one of only a few with a tangible product.

Plus, in our “Get to Know a Muni” segment, Joe Wilson reports from the North County town of Bel-Nor.

BTTV – Episode 18 – Start Up and Grow, Part 2

In this episode, we continue our exploration of economic development in the 21st century. Back at T-REX, we chat with Jeffry Harrison from RoverTown. Then, we meet Rasheed Sulaiman, creative director at LockerDome and CEO of Goparti.

We will also visit with the team behind Greetabl – a greeting card that folds into a gift box and provides a memorable way to share handwritten messages and gifts.

Plus, in tonight’s “Better Know a Muni” segment, Joe Wilson reports from the North County towns of Pasadena Hills and Pasadena Park.