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New Agreement Between St. Louis County And Sewer District Promises More Business

/ Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

It's being billed as another way to spur economic development in the region.

St. Louis County and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District announced Wednesday a new agreement to share software that will track and manage construction permits.

Officials from the two entities said having one system for permitting will be more cost-effective for both governmental agencies. It will also speed up the process for those seeking permits.

Speed is important when businesses are choosing between cities, said Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

"We have to be very competitive today to help job creation, to help people make decisions about where to make their investments," Reagan said. "This is really about helping employers make the decision to invest here in St. Louis and create jobs."

The announcement came just one day after the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County released a joint strategic plan for economic development. Officials with the Chamber, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, St. Louis County and MSD hailed both efforts as exemplifying how the region is working to advance economic development. 

The goal for the MSD-St. Louis County agreement is to eventually include more municipalities and utilities. But Len Toenjes, president of Associated General Contractors, said bringing the county and MSD together was the most important step.

"Most of the development community sees those [entities] as the two biggest hurdles; the most fragmented," he said. "The city [of St. Louis] has really streamlined their process already, but as we move forward I would anticipate the city to come on board."

As for what average citizens will gain, officials said they can expect to see businesses going up faster. Toenjes pointed to the signs people see announcing a new Whole Foods or Starbucks. He said it's likely those signs won't have to stay up nearly as long.

"The 'coming soon' time should shorten significantly," Toenjes said.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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