ST. LOUIS – After decades of bringing events to downtown, Dot Foods, Inc., of Chesterfield, is now looking at other options.
Dot Foods has been holding major events downtown for more than 20 years. There are plans to do so again next year, but an event manager for the company has just sent out a letter to Dot’s downtown partners saying ongoing safety concerns, and the increased severity of crime downtown, are forcing the company to rethink those plans.
The letter spells out exactly what downtown partners stand to lose:
- The company’s national business meeting with up to 1,800 visitors
- Its trade show at America’s Center with more than 3,000 visitors
- 5 to 10 smaller meetings with 10-40 visitors
- $5,000,000 total for St. Louis’s hospitality
St. Louis Alderman Jack Coatar, who represents much of downtown, worries more companies may follow the lead of Dot Foods.
Shootings, assaults, and reckless driving have become common downtown over the past year and a half. Mayor Tishaura Jones announced a new downtown crime initiative last week with a task force of downtown business leaders and 30 additional police officers patrolling on weekends.
“I’m hopeful the mayor’s office is starting to understand that it’s a major problem. I think last week was a good sign,” Coatar said.
Members of an RV travel group visiting downtown felt very safe leaving Busch Stadium, Thursday. Still, they noticed a lack of police presence.
“I don’t see any. I don’t feel like we need to but I see no cop cars, no anything around,” said Jeanne Hollrah of Florida.
Another resident from Florida, Monica Fierro, said, “I don’t necessarily need to see a lot of police but if I know that they’re around, I feel a lot safer.”
Explore St. Louis president Kitty Ratcliffe, who oversees the city’s convention business, called Dot Foods an important customer.
“We rely on and appreciate their business,” she said.
“I am hopeful the mayor’s new downtown safety task force working with the public safety officials will implement some long-term solutions that will allay those concerns and make everyone feel safe when they come to our community.”
Coatar said, “I would ask, please help us be part of the solution. Don’t just cut loose and abandon downtown.”