Can spending money on trails and density grow tech jobs in St. Louis County?

Economic development officials are hoping to replicate the success of the Cortex technology district in the suburbs of St. Louis.

Monsanto’s headquarters and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center already serve as anchors of the Creve Coeur hub of agriculture technology, while BRDG Park and the Helix Center offer space for startups and companies that want to be near the research performed there. But the amenities and density that often help attract a highly educated workforce are somewhat lacking in a suburb developed when planners thought of little more than accommodating cars.

Now, area leaders are planning trails and connections to food and entertainment, attributes many believe are necessary to continue attracting the top-notch scientific talent that drives biotech investment.

Aided by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership has been working for a year to develop a plan encompassing what’s loosely referred to as the plant science district. They’ll soon unfurl a branding campaign for the district, but the Partnership will also be looking to fund concrete construction projects.

Paying for the infrastructure that will better connect the housing, restaurants and offices is the next challenge. The draft plan estimates projects to update infrastructure will cost between $70 million and $74 million.

St. Louis County and the Economic Development Partnership will be leading the effort, seeking out state transportation and county road funds for the projects.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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