A Thriving St. Louis: How to Combat the Concentration of Jobs and Wealth on the Coasts

Editor’s note: This is the second post in an 8-part series on the Fight to Keep “Community” in Banking

In my white paper, David Vs. Goliath: The Fight to Keep ‘Community’ in Banking, among several topics, I talk about the concentration of jobs and wealth on both coasts. There is no denying it. Many of our best and brightest are packing up, leaving family and friends behind. They are heading to Boston, the modern day mecca for science technology.  They are heading to San Francisco for a nugget of the high tech gold rush. They are headed to Seattle to join Amazon, a giant too big to fail.

But I have to think and wonder. Is it what they’re going to, or is it what they are running from?

The “winner-take-all” mindset creates a concentration of wealth, opportunity and resources in a select few “winner cities.” The same cities that are seeing job concentration are also seeing a concentration of wealth. “Good paying” jobs leave room in the budget for ‘’extras,” helping movie theaters, coffee shops, fitness clubs and restaurants open and thrive.  The positive impacts are multiplied many times over; growth spurs more growth.

Feeling confident and secure that this upward spiral will continue forever, they buy a house. Even though the limited supply and increased demand have pushed home prices sky high, they want in. Even though their commute to work is eating away at their discretionary time, in their minds the perceived rewards outweigh the hassle. 

And then something happens—maybe it is a government regulation or global competition or a bad decision by the team in the C-suite. The business that was too big to fail is crumbling. And the aftermath is devastating, especially to those closest to the epicenter. They lose their jobs, not because they weren’t smart enough, not because they didn’t work hard enough, but because that is the nature of this system.

The workforce that primarily makes up the new economy was probably in middle school in 2008 when the unthinkable happened: Lehman Brothers, the financial institution too big to fail, failed.  A failure so seismic that it set off a devastating recession which rippled through local communities, the country and the world.

So, what does this have to do with David and Goliath? What does it have to do with Keeping Community in Banking?  I believe everything. There is a reason why you want local community banks. There is a reason why a tension exists between the race to the bottom and the race to the top. It has nothing to do with how much you train or how fast you run. It has everything to do with access to opportunity. And access to opportunity has everything to do with access to capital.

Right now that system strongly favors those who already have access to capital and opportunity.  But we can influence that.

Community banks create self-sustaining financial ecosystems that support local families and businesses.  At Midwest BankCentre, $95 out of every $100 in local deposits stays in St. Louis. By issuing credit and loans, we are opening doors to opportunities for the many, not just the few.  Access to capital means our neighbors now have the chance to fulfill their dream of opening a salon or a yoga studio or construction related company.

Access to capital means community businesses can invest in new equipment and plan for expansion. With access to capital entrepreneurs can follow their idea to a successful end.

Although systems are complex, what I am saying to is really quite simple.  As a community, we do not have to throw our hands up in defeat and watch human and financial capital flee to the coasts. We have the power to change that dynamic. Everyone, not just a few, should have access to financial capital—to buy homes, to fund educations, to start businesses.

I believe that together we can reverse the trend so that our region can be the place people are running to and no longer where they are running from.

Prove me right. When you keep Community in Banking, you are putting your money where your heart is. System change requires something of all of us.  Partner with Midwest BankCentre on your savings, checkings and loans.  When you Bank your values, we all RISE TOGETHER.

This post is part 2 of 8 in a series on the Fight to Keep “Community” in BankingFollow along the series with the next blog post

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