Leaders of Mississippi River communities want to update and upgrade their infrastructure, but said Wednesday they’ll need outside financial help.
The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative held its annual meeting in St. Louis. About 30 mayors were there to talk about how their communities can survive natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The mayors also discussed strategies for attracting private investments for city improvements.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the river is “a major source of tourism.” Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who grew up along the Mississippi, said he believed there are options for funding infrastructure projects outside of state and federal budgets.
"There's $70 trillion on Wall Street and there's probably another $75 trillion in offshore money that is made by American corporations but they keep it offshore for various reasons,” he said. “We found ways to start attracting that money back to Atlanta and that’s what I hope we can do with the entire river."
East St. Louis is hoping that the river will attract infrastructure investments and create jobs, Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks said.
“East St. Louis is a jewel, it’s a diamond. For whatever reason we haven’t been able to capitalize off of that in past years,” she said. “But today I think we’re positioning ourselves pretty well to be able to do that.”
Hicks said she’s speaking with a barge company about operating in East St. Louis.
Also Wednesday, members of the initiative signed an agreement with an international nonprofit environmental data organization, CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). The goal is to attract private funding for river-related infrastructure jobs.