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After long decline, St. Louis tries to rebuild with startups

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ St. Louis’ fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups.

St. Louis was the nation’s fourth-largest city in 1904, the year it hosted the World’s Fair. Today, the population ranks 60th.

It’s tough to rebuild a city’s image when the national perception is that it peaked a century ago. Images of rioting after a police shooting in nearby Ferguson fed impressions of racial turmoil.

Yet Forbes recently cited St. Louis as the fastest-growing city for startups. The region is now home to more than 700 bioscience companies, many new ventures linked to the city’s universities and medical institutions.

Unclear, though, is how much the improving business climate will help the city’s minority community, where 36 percent of black residents live below the poverty line.