FAQs

What companies will be affected by the ending of tax breaks?

Companies that are primarily engaged in the mining and extraction of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) would no longer be able to get public financial incentives, such as tax breaks, TIFs or forgivable loans. In addition, companies that do $1 million of business with extraction companies would not be eligible for incentives. For example, this means that coal corporations would no longer get tax breaks, as well as utilities buying $1 million of coal, large law firms and lobbying firms working for coal companies. This initiative does not impact those solely purchasing $1 million of electricity or fuel per year.

Will this affect jobs in the city?

In 2013, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy found that the city of St. Louis has 216,000 jobs, but city residents hold only 55,000. For decades, the dominant approach to development has been to give money to corporations to create jobs; this approach is not working. We are trying to create a new economy of small-scale businesses and dispersed development. We believe by switching incentives away from corporations, we can start to build the local green economy here. Numerous studies such as one in 2009 from the Political Economy Research Institute have shown that investments in clean energy create on average three times more jobs than the same investment in fossil fuels.

What could these jobs be and who will get them?

Investing money in our local economy will provide jobs for St. Louis city residents. These jobs will not be solely white-collar jobs, but will instead expand the employment base to include new green-collar jobs. We would like to see projects like the Evergreen Coops in Cleveland, where giving tax breaks to a solar panel maker and installer, a sustainable laundry company and a hydroponic greenhouse created new jobs. Many of these green jobs will go to people who have previously been left out of the economy. We believe that the vacant land in St. Louis can be used as an asset, by investing in projects such as urban farms, solar arrays and weatherization programs. 

Will corporations leave St. Louis?

This initiative is solely changing the orientation of tax breaks, not forcing companies out. However, we need to think about what kinds of companies we want to anchor our city. If fossil fuel companies do not change their business of destroying the planet, we don’t want them here! It’s a question of where we spend our tax dollars – negotiating with large polluters or helping a green economy succeed. 

How does this interact with preexisting sustainability initiatives?

In the past year, Mayor Slay has released the first Sustainability Plan. It is a very comprehensive document, but does not have any money attached to it. The Take Back St. Louis initiative will reorient resources towards the plan. We are excited by the Sustainable Land Labs competition and other attempts to use vacant land in St. Louis in a sustainable way. There must be more of these projects, and not just through our universities. We would like the see the city’s development agencies actively think about sustainable and creative use of vacant land. The Take Back St. Louis will increase the funding for these types of projects, so that there are more on a larger, most distributed scale.

What other groups are endorsing this initiative?

The initiative has the endorsement of groups such as Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Organizing for Black Struggle, St. Louis City NAACP, Communication Workers of America Local 6355, Young Activists United St. Louis, businesses and farms such as New Roots Urban Farm, and faith groups and leaders.  If a group or business you work with is interested in endorsing, call Arielle at 314-862-2249.

How do I get involved?

Call 314-862-2249, email [email protected] or visit: www.TakeBackStLouis.com. 

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commented 2013-08-19 11:20:10 -0500
Conor is right, you need more specifics. You also need a copy editor for this page and the whole site. I’ll offer to do that when I sign up to volunteer.