Business leaders are wondering how the international negative publicity about the clashes in Ferguson will impact the area’s business climate. Tear gas, looters, protest signs, cops in riot gear and angry demonstrators became the image of St. Louis over the past two weeks.
So far, no business has nixed plans to expand there. No group has canceled a convention. Hotels report normal bookings.
But people who make those decisions are asking a lot of questions. Will business leaders from elsewhere cut the St. Louis area from their list as they decide where to expand production? Will bankers think twice before making a big business loan here? Will people with smart ideas decide to launch their startup elsewhere?
“It has to be a black eye for the community, and you can’t damp it down overnight. People will remember it,” said Richard Ward, a longtime economic development consultant in St. Louis. “This can have a tremendous long-term effect.”