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America’s Center Next Gen: The Future of St. Louis

Thursday, April 18, 2019  
Posted by: Jessie Greenberg
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Kitty Ratcliffe introduced the women of St. Louis Forum to America’s Center (AC) Next Gen, economic and employment expansion in St. Louis at the St. Louis Club on Friday, March 29th. Kitty, President of St. Louis’ tourism and economic development initiative (Explore St. Louis), who also oversees operations behind the expansion plans for St. Louis’ Convention Center, which she calls “St. Louis’ Front Door.”

A 42-year-old outdated facility, the St. Louis Convention Center requires expenditures to compete with larger and more prosperous convention centers in competitive midwestern cities, such as Nashville, Indianapolis, and Denver. Convention Center events currently generate $265 million in annual revenues for St. Louis City and County. AC Next Gen outlines plans to expand the Convention Center so that it generates even more revenue and creates more jobs for St. Louisans—88,000 jobs, to be exact.

Among other expansion details, the project proposes two key elements:

1. Create more ballroom space to hold larger events

2. Add more loading docks to the exterior of the center.


An industrial, unfinished space defines the current state of the Convention Center’s ballroom. Rival cities’ convention center ballrooms, such as Denver’s, showcase larger and more polished spaces. The AC Next Gen expansion plan outlines specifications to increase the size of St. Louis Convention Center’s ballroom so that companies become increasing swayed to choose St. Louis as the destination for their profit-generating events.

Kitty emphasizes a key project driver—Explore St. Louis does not seek more financing for its AC Next Gen plan but rather requests St. Louis City and County to reissue a bond—a tangible means for putting the plan into action. While St. Louis City has signed the bond agreement, the County has not. And, today, Explore St. Louis requests its allegiance to AC Next Gen, the future of St. Louis.



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