This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2009 - Gov.-elect Jay Nixon chose a visit to City Sprouts, a children's shop in the Loop, to announce his plan to appoint Linda M. Martinez to head the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
Martinez is a member of the Bryan Cave law firm and specializes in financial and development issues. In a statement at the store, she said tough economic times required Missouri to "take bold steps to create and retain good-paying jobs."
She said the next administration in Jefferson City hoped to use the Show Me JOBS program to give small businesses low-interest loans and other help that she says will result in more jobs.
"Missouri won't just survive the national economic crisis; we'll also make our state stronger in the long run," she said.
Nixon praised Martinez, saying she "understands the challenges entrepreneurs face, and she is ready to lead the fight to keep and create jobs here in Missouri."
The announcement was in keeping with the Nixon theme of linking Missouri's economic future to small-business growth. In other comments, Nixon ruled out raising taxes to help the state ease its economic problems.
"Raising taxes is not on the list," he said, adding that Missourians didn't elect him to "whine or complain" about the economic picture "but to deal with it."
Nixon chose City Sprouts, 6354 Delmar Boulevard, as an example of the value of small businesses to Missouri's economy. Passers-by might not notice the little shop, filled with toys and clothing sandwiched between the Tivoli Theater and the Riverfront Times' office in the Loop. The store, owned by sisters Molly Curlee and Carrie Drda (pronounced Darda), boasts of offering everything from designer diaper bags to "funky toddler tees" for children.
Curlee says the business employs five people. She admits to being "a little nervous" about the economy, saying she had "cut down on buying for the spring, but I'm optimistic that we'll pull through."
She's upbeat in part, she says, "because there's nothing like us in St. Louis. We have loyal customers who come here to buy things they can't find elsewhere."