Chairman of Crestwood EDC responds to former alderman’s letter

To the editor:

It has been an honor and privilege to serve as chairman of the Crestwood Economic Development Commission under Mayor Roy Robinson’s administration.

When all of us began in 2005, no one knew the economic problems we would be facing in 2009. Our ex-member and defeated Alderman Steve Nieder made some incorrect accusations in his recent letter to the editor, which I would like to correct.

Our mission under the current administration is to create a very business-friendly environment for the city of Crestwood and to pay close attention to what is going on around us from both a political and economic standpoint so that Crestwood and surrounding areas will have a chance to survive.

I am a resident of Crestwood and a retail and commercial property owner. In all my years in retail, I have never experienced such a difficult economy. Mr. Nieder is upset about the tax holiday. The tax holiday will give merchants of Crestwood and Sunset Hills a financial advantage at no cost to them or residents. Not everything is exempt, but for higher-ticket items such as products sold at electronics stores — computers, software, et cetera — a customer’s savings will be substantial. Additionally, merchants will have an opportunity to advertise — at no charge to Crestwood — to bring people into our area and extra profit to their store. Many of these people will be new customers and hopefully repeat customers in the future.

Mr. Nieder asked: What has the Economic Development Commission accomplished?

Listed below are a few of our accomplishments.

• We supported the new tax-increment financing law, which is more favorable to older areas and existing businesses. This was a result of meeting with the then-president pro tem of the Missouri Senate, Michael Gibbons. We presented our case as to how the TIFs of Kirkwood, Fenton and Des Peres have impacted our shopping area.

• We brought new ideas to our business communities by joining hands with the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Area Chamber of Commerce, meeting monthly to move our agenda. We conducted an in-depth survey of our citizens’ ideas and needs, then held a public meeting to discuss the results.

• We held community meetings when we redeveloped Watson Plaza, Sappington Square and Crestwood Square. We had meetings with the owners and kept the remodeling on track.

• We have spearheaded efforts to operate the local license office with the profits used to benefit the historical districts of Sunset Hills and Crestwood, which will promote people visiting our areas.

As hard as many people have worked to improve our area, I was appalled by the condescending manner and interrogating style ex-Alderman Nieder used to new and existing businesses as they came before the Board of Aldermen to conduct their business. He was truly an impediment to the pro-business style we were trying to create, which is why I supported Deborah Beazley, who defeated him.

Since being established 41⁄2 years, ago, we have had to cancel only one meeting for lack of a quorum. The Crestwood Economic Development Commission has open meetings for all citizens to attend. We are making progress in the roughest retail environment in the history of the United States, and if you have ideas to better our community, I invite you to join us.

Forrest Miller

Economic Development Commission chairman