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Head of St. Louis' top economic development agency announces retirement

Head of St. Louis' top economic development agency announces retirement

otis williams

Otis Williams is the executive director of the St. Louis Development Corp. Photo by Erik M. Lunsford

ST. LOUIS — The executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation confirmed Friday he will retire in April 2021. 

“It’s been 22 great years," Otis Williams, head of the SLDC, said via phone call Friday. I think the city, as well as the region, is on the right path for economic development."

One of the most powerful public agencies in the region, the SLDC manages state-created agencies that regularly buy and sell real estate, grants developers tax breaks and finances some of the biggest projects in the metro area. It is largely funded by federal grants in addition to fees charged on the tax credits and development incentives it offers. 

During his time leading SLDC, Williams said, “There was a huge effort to try to have some intentional development in north St. Louis and some of the pockets of south St. Louis.”

After joining the agency in 1999, Williams replaced Rodney Crim as executive director in 2013. 

Williams said helping to establish the $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's western headquarters in the city was one of his major accomplishments, and that his successor should focus on implementing the Equitable Economic Development Project.

The project, released in July, focuses on increasing the city’s population and rebuilding the city’s Black, middle class. 

Before joining SLDC, Williams served as chief of staff at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington.


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