The Drilldown: Bridging the Information Gap

Yesterday’s conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis featured the St. Louis Neighborhood Market DrillDown.  For those who don’t know, the Drilldown  is a community collaboration co-chaired by RHCDA and H&CS and in partnership with Social Compact with the goal of creating market data that reveals the strengths of our community in ways that impact access to:

  • healthy food
  • healthcare
  • financial services
  • economic growth
  • better housing

…all with the goal of planning and creating sustainable communities.

Beginning with the premise that a significant reason for inner-city disinvestment is lack of good market information, Social Compact developed the Neighborhood Market Drilldown to address key barriers to private investment in and around inner city neighborhoods.

The St. Louis Drilldown which is still a work in progress offers insights to opportunities to improve economic access, health, and quality of life.  Below are some of the noted initial opportunities.


  • More than $500 million dollars of income is not captured by traditional economic estimates.  The Drilldown estimates the St. Louis Study Area informal economy to be approximately 5% of the total economy. St. Louis area households have on average about $2000 in expenditure capacity not captured by traditional market measures.
  • Together, St. Louis City and County present income density 10 times that of the metropolitan statistical area. The City alone has an income density 17 times that of the metropolitan statistical area.  This income density creates unique opportunities for retailers to capture more demand with smaller trade area, or even greater demand with the typical trade area than they would require in the metropolitan area.
  • While it already captures more than its proportion of restaurant revenue from MSA and beyond, St. Louis City and County are poised to capture dollars spend on retail outside of its boundaries, create jobs, and stabilize neighborhoods.
  • Overall, food access is limited in the study area.  Twenty percent of neighborhoods in the study area have only one full service grocer. Neighborhoods that exhibit both need and the market to support grocery stores include Martin Luther King, Euclid, and South Grand.
  • Also striking, only 58% of residents have a credit record.  With credit records used to provide entrance to everything from a house, to a car, to a job, increasing access in the area will be an important strategy.
The conference featured a terrific line up of speakers with mostly formal presentations in the morning and break out sessions in the afternoon.  The discussion groups looked at how the data gathered might be used as it pertains to financial services, retail, philanthropy, and food access.  Overall it was an extremely successful event and we look forward to seeing the full results of the report when it is released.

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