Alison Zeidler works to make St. Louis’ economy stronger
Talk to Alison Zeidler about St. Louis and the 29-year-old’s love for the region is obvious. She wants to see St. Louis thrive. That makes her a natural fit for her work at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. Zeidler served as project manager at the partnership until October when she was named assistant vice president of New Market Tax Credits.
“My job is to fight for our businesses and increase jobs and investments,” says Zeidler, a native of the north St. Louis County municipality Florissant, Mo., or as she puts it, a “No. Co. girl, through and through.”
If the St. Louis Business Journal is an indication, the University of Missouri–St. Louis alumna, BA English 2006, is doing her job well. In July, Zeidler was named to the weekly newspaper’s prestigious “30 Under 30” list.
In an article about her honor, Zeidler pointed out that she’s a part of a team that facilitated the creation of $753.4 million of investment and almost 3,500 jobs in announced or completed St. Louis County projects. That’s only the results through the first six months of 2013. It also was before Zeidler’s employer, the St. Louis County Economic Council, merged with St. Louis city economic developments agencies to form the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
In addition, Zeidler managed the reorganization of St. Louis’ Foreign-Trade Zone three years ago. Under her leadership, these FTZ-designated sites, which give businesses a global competitive edge allowing them to function as though they’re outside of customs territory, have since increased by 300 percent.
Based on her success, it’s no wonder Zeidler thinks the St. Louis region has a lot going for it.
“I look at St. Louis, I see we have affordable land, we have clean water, we have logistical benefits out the you know what,” she says. “We’ve got rail, air, highways, rivers, a good work force, affordability and phenomenal institutions for higher education.”
An alumna of Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis, Zeidler came to UMSL seeking a math degree before falling in love with English and switching majors.
“I still love math, which might seem weird for people who graduate with an English degree,” she says.
The self-described “super nerd” spent much of her free time studying at UMSL because she says school didn’t come naturally to her. The hard work paid off as she became a Pierre Laclede Honors College student. She credits the honors college with helping her thrive at UMSL.
“I came from a fantastic small high school,” she says. “But I felt relatively sheltered compared to other students at the time. I think without the honors college, my transition to a university setting would have been a whole lot harder.”
From her sophomore through senior years at UMSL, Zeidler worked 10-20 hours per week with Facilities Planning and Construction. She says the job was a pivotal learning experience. She took on projects, communicated with colleagues and clients and worked to ensure her jobs were done on time.
“Those were all skills I began practicing my sophomore year in college, which most people don’t start until their first jobs,” she says.
The experience helped lead to her first job as a construction management assistant in the St. Louis office of the Minnesota commercial real estate firm Opus. That put her on the path to economic development and ultimately her current job.
Her passion for St. Louis, she says, will likely keep her here for many years to come. She’s preparing for that future with her leadership of the Young Government Leaders of St. Louis County and FOCUS – St. Louis Connect With Committee. She’s also exploring the idea of pursuing a master’s degree in logistics.
It’s all part of her plan to help further the St. Louis region, even though she thinks it’s already a pretty great place.
“We’re not a stale, old industrial town,” Zeidler says with a big smile and wide eyes. “We are a proud region. We’re a region of fighters and innovators.”
This story was originally published in the fall 2013 issue of UMSL Magazine.
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