Yesterday I had the opportunity, along with a few other local bloggers, to meet with Bill Corrigan, a Republican candidate for St. Louis County Executive. Even though I live in St. Charles County, St. Louis is the heart of the local metro area and so I was quite interested to hear about Mr. Corrigan's campaign plans.
During our discussion, one of the main points I made was that our region should really try to take advantage of the current recession by maximizing in-migration from the coasts. The recession has hit America's coastal cities harder than it has hit us here in the Midwest -- especially as reflected by the housing market -- and I think there's a huge opportunity to attract people to the St. Louis metro region. This story about migration from California to Missouri is from 2005:
Today, the most popular destinations for people moving from Los Angeles and San Francisco are less expensive parts of California, like Riverside and Sacramento. Las Vegas and Phoenix also remain near the top of the list, but Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Virginia Beach and Oklahoma City are becoming popular, according to Economy.com.
In the Kansas City area, which straddles Missouri and Kansas, a small band of Californians are discovering the plentiful supply of spacious homes for prices that would not buy a shack back where they came from.
"They just walk in and go 'Wow, we can have space,' " said Sandy Tasker, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Overland Park, Kan.
According to I.R.S. data, the net population transfer to Missouri from California more than tripled, to about 2,200, from 2001 to 2004.
Nothing prevents St. Louis from joining that list, if we have the wisdom and political will to make a few changes. This migration report doesn't have more recent data, but it does give a more detailed breakdown that includes the St. Louis area as the nation's 12th highest in-migration metro area.
I look forward to seeing Mr. Corrigan's economic development plan, and I hope it includes a vision for drawing in hard-working, talented people from around the country that have perhaps become disillusioned with their prospects on the coasts. At an explicit extreme, I could even envision an ad campaign targeted at the coastal cities with a theme like: "Are you tired of high taxes, red-tape, and a government run by clueless socialists? Come check out St. Louis! We've got beautiful, affordable real estate, world-class universities, and high tech jobs without all the government tentacles you that make your life miserable!"