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Longtime regional economic developer Johnson to retire

After nearly four decades in economic development, Steve Johnson, chief business attraction officer for Greater St. Louis, Inc. and president of its business attraction initiative AllianceSTL, has formally announced that he will retire later this year. Plans for a smooth transition have been underway since last fall.

“I hope we have shown that St. Louis can compete with anyone in the country when it comes to attracting world-class companies to locate here,” said Johnson, who helped launch AllianceSTL, which was merged into Greater St. Louis, Inc. Jan. 1, 2021. “It’s been an honor to do my part to help move the St. Louis metro forward, and I’m indebted to the great team of professionals who have surrounded me, along with our community partners throughout the entire region.

A native of Jefferson City, Mo., Johnson began his career in economic development at the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce. He later served as president and CEO of the Missouri Partnership before being selected to lead AllianceSTL in 2019.

“Steve is a true class act whose commitment to St. Louis is unparalleled and whose leadership we will certainly miss,” said Andrew C. Taylor, executive chairman, Enterprise Holdings Inc. and founding chair of Greater St. Louis Inc. “We congratulate him on his retirement and wish him all the best in this next chapter.”

During his career, Johnson and his team helped lead efforts that resulted in some of metro’s bigger business attraction wins. Major projects on which Johnson worked include:

             Accenture Federal Services – bringing 1,400 new jobs to St. Louis

             Wachovia acquisition of AG Edwards and designation of St. Louis as HQ (Wells Fargo Advisors later acquired Wachovia) – several hundred employees relocated to St. Louis

             NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois – brought an estimated $60 million in economic impact to the metro

             American Foods Group – bringing 1,300 new jobs to the metro

Noted Suzanne Sitherwood, president and CEO of Spire, Inc. and the founding chair of AllianceSTL, said: “Steve has been a big part of many of the big economic development wins we’ve enjoyed in St. Louis, and I am grateful to have been able to work with him through AllianceSTL and now, Greater St. Louis, Inc. As much as he will be missed professionally, I am truly happy for him to be able to enjoy some much-deserved time off.”

Johnson is scheduled to retire at the end of this September. He plans to travel, cycle across Missouri on the Katy Trail, and, most importantly, spend time with his family.

A national search led by David P. Smith, founder and CEO of executive search firm HRS, Inc., is already underway for a new chief business attraction officer for Greater St. Louis, Inc.

“Steve is one of the best economic developers St. Louis has ever had and it has been a real honor to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from him,” said Greater St. Louis, Inc. CEO Jason Hall. “He has laid a strong foundation for our business attraction efforts to continue to grow as we work to win the next decade.”

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