Growth in the Heartland: Challenges and Opportunities for Missouri

Situated in the heartland, Missouri reflects the full range of American reality.

The state is highly urban yet deeply rural. It contains two bustling metropolises, numerous fastgrowing suburbs, and dozens of typically American small towns. Elsewhere lie tranquil swaths of open country where farmers still rise before dawn and the view consists mainly of rich cropland, trees, and sky.

Missouri sums up the best of the nation, in short.

And yet, Missouri also mirrors the country’s experience in more problematic ways.

The spread of the national economic downturn to Missouri, most immediately, has depressed tax collections and increased the demand for social services, resulting in a troublesome state and local fiscal moment. This has highlighted pocketbook concerns and underscored that the state must make the most of limited resources.

At the same time, Missourians, like many Americans, have many opinions about how their local communities are changing. They are divided—and sometimes ambivalent—in their views of whether their towns and neighborhoods are developing in ways that maintain the quality of life and character they cherish.

All of which explains the double focus of the following report by the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. Intended to speak to the simultaneous concern of Missourians for fiscal efficiency and communities of quality, “Growth in the Heartland: Challenges and Opportunities for Missouri” brings together for the first time a large body of new information about both the nature and costs of development patterns in the Show-Me State.