top50stl economic development idea of the week – giant building next to IKEA

If you haven’t been down to the new IKEA or the neighboring Cortex Innovation Community (CIC) District, you’re missing out. The district is buzzing with activity – a mixture of new development and renovation; start-ups alongside established institutions – all the while emanating a palatable vibe of positivity and possibility that makes me feel good about what’s going on in Saint Louis. In the middle of this district is a giant thing, an enormous structure that serves as an excellent landmark for finding your way. It just so happens; it serves as an active grain elevator for Ray Caroll County Grain Growers Inc. When I first saw it and wondered what it looked like, I thought it resembled a giant collection of Crayola markers (I also had a friend tell me he thought it looked like a pack of cigarettes).

When I see things like this, it gets my mind wondering about possibilities. I thought it might be fun to see what it would take to get it painted to look like a package of markers. I thought about contacting the corporate folks at Crayola to see if they’d have an interest in working on a wild marketing campaign. I thought about using Rhino Shield as the paint supplier to make sure the paint stuck. I even thought it would be fun to get CBS News Sunday Morning involved to film the entire process (and increase exposure to give Crayola a bigger incentive to pay for it all). I’ve shared this idea with many people and while most thought it was a fun idea, they all but agreed it was highly impractical and unlikely. So, I’d move on to the next idea. What about painting the City of Saint Louis’s flag on both sides? Wouldn’t that be a great landmark?

I also shared this idea with my friends at RallySTL – another great site established to help market how great Saint Louis is (or can be) – and they said my idea wasn’t entirely unique. In fact, they had already spoken with a number of companies interested in using the grain elevator for something creative. They came to the conclusion that painting it would be too expensive and probably too much of a logistics headache, but they were working on using lighting or some sort of projector to display images onto the building which would be utilized as their canvas. Unfortunately, the idea fell short due to red tape and bureaucracy.

So, what’s the point? The point is that I want ideas to flourish in Saint Louis. The Innovation Community is exactly what we need. Innovation is all about finding new, inventive ways to create better products, places and people. The purpose of is to spread positivity throughout the St. Louis community, challenge the status quo and highlight where red tape and bureaucracy kill the innovative ideas we need to make Saint Louis one of the greatest cities on the planet. I envision a city that not only rivals New Orleans, San Francisco and Boston in history, tradition and culture but challenges Chicago, New York and Silicon Valley with possibility. It is up to us, the citizens of Saint Louis, to appreciate, maintain and cultivate a great city. I encourage everyone to challenge yourself on what you can do (today) to make Saint Louis better – even if it’s just having a conversation with your fellow Saint Louisan.

There are a lot of great things going on here and I plan to highlight as many positive things as I can and provide ideas to make it even better. But, ideas are just the beginning. We need execution. If you’re someone that wants to help with the execution of getting things done, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

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