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Express Scripts opts for 'shade rising' and humor to highlight new high-tech facility

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 3, 2010 - Express Scripts opted for a high-tech replacement to the old ribbon-cutting, choosing instead an automated "window-shade rising" today to unveil to area dignitaries the firm's new 224,000-square-foot, largely automated facility for filling tens of thousands of drug prescriptions.

The light-hearted approach prompted chuckles and an unusual spate of jokes from such officials as Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo. The jovial jibes reflected the celebratory atmosphere, prompted by the new facility's creation of 300 new jobs and the promise of more.

Express Scripts' political clout also was evident, as most of the state's top elected officials, from both major parties, showed up for the ceremony and stayed for the tour of the new operations.

Bond said that he'd skipped a luncheon in Kansas City so that he could attend the Express Scripts' grand opening in north St. Louis County, because he viewed the event as important to the region and the state.

The region's congressman, U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, lauded the new facility's potential for reducing health-care costs, and preventing medical mistakes -- particularly as it applies to prescription drugs.

Clay also got into the humor groove, playfully jabbing at St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, who has headlined several North County events this week that, combined, have highlighted the creation or preservation of more than 1,000 jobs.

Clay quipped at the lectern that Dooley "needs to remember that he's not the only one running for re-election this fall."

But the biggest laughs went to state House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, who had driven across the state for today's event. Richard had been the chief House driver behind the state Quality Jobs Act that provided tax incentives for Express Scripts and other firms that created high-paying jobs in the state.

Richard began his remarks by joking that his wife says he resembles Gov. Jay Nixon. Nodding at the laughing governor, Richard observed, "All I can say is, 'He's a good-looking rascal.' "

The group of officials walked en masse to the lowered window shades at the side of the room, prompting jokes on what they were to do. Nothing, said Express Scripts senior vice president Larry Zarin

And on cue, the blinds rose in unison -- prompting applause, chuckles and cheers.