Image effort looks to lessen St. Louis regional divide

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A new image-boosting campaign taking root in St. Louis’ Illinois suburbs aims to lure wary Missourians across the Mississippi River while promoting a two-state regional identity. The “Get to Know M.E.” effort refers to the Metro East, as southwestern Illinois is known in St. Louis. Boosters say the city’s Illinois suburbs have long suffered from an identity crisis, in part due to East St. Louis’ reputation for poverty, violence and despair. Their campaign instead focuses on small-town values, affordable housing and family-friendly activities. The rollout comes amid competing efforts by the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County in Illinois to host the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new regional headquarters, as the secretive federal agency seeks to relocate 3,000 high-paying jobs.