Nixon names economic development director

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 | 4:54 p.m. CST

UNIVERSITY CITY — A St. Louis lawyer who specializes in finances is Democratic Gov.-elect Jay Nixon's nominee for director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Linda Martinez, 54, has worked for 26 years advising businesses about tax credits, tax-exempt financing and other economic development tools. She is a partner at the Bryan Cave law firm in St. Louis, where she has worked since 1982.

Nixon announced his choice at a Tuesday morning news conference in suburban St. Louis at the City Sprouts children's boutique, saying Martinez will lead efforts to turn Missouri's economy around, including work to strengthen small businesses.

"She is as qualified as anybody in the Midwest to have this position," Nixon said.

Martinez has worked with businesses and their expansion projects, housing developments, nonprofits, airports and hotels. Her clients and projects have included BJC HealthCare, Marriott International and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

"We will work quickly to get Show Me JOBS up and running," Martinez said.

Nixon's plan calls for creating new jobs by supporting small business development and providing incentives for worker training. It also seeks to bring next-generation automotive jobs to Missouri.

Martinez received her bachelor's degree from MU in 1976. She graduated in 1982 from Washington University School of Law and has received several awards.

Martinez has made more than $27,000 in political donations over the last decade, mostly to Democrats seeking federal and state offices. Martinez gave Nixon $500 in 2003 and $550 for his U.S. Senate campaign in 1998.

During the 2008 election cycle, state campaign records show she gave nearly $1,000 to a Democratic lawmaker and an attorney general candidate and several hundred dollars to a Republican candidate for the state House. But they show no direct donations to Nixon.

For roughly six years starting in April 2000, Martinez was a registered lobbyist, with clients that included the St. Louis Blues hockey team and the Savvis Center. That registration allowed her to lobby executive branch offices, the legislature and the judiciary.

Martinez belonged to a coalition of lawyers that sued the St. Louis suburb of Valley Park in 2007 for ordinances that fined businesses and landlords for hiring and renting to illegal immigrants.

Jorge Riopedre, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis, said Martinez is highly regarded for her business skills and he thought she'd do an outstanding job leading the Department of Economic Development.

"I have found her to be an excellent lawyer and tremendous advocate for Hispanics in the St. Louis area," he said.


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