John M. Nations

John Nations, SmithAmundsen LLC Photo


John offers counsel to private businesses, public entities and professionals on issues ranging from transportation to economic incentives; land use and management to business matters and expansions; succession and estate planning to logistics, infrastructure, and public-private partnerships. John’s counsel provides strategies for business success through public policy and government relations in addition to legal solutions.  

Throughout his career, John has negotiated opportunities with a range of public officials including presidential cabinet secretaries, federal agency leaders, governors, state agency leaders, county leaders, municipal officials, and special district leaders. His experience includes interstate compacts and agreements, economic development, as well as government audits and compliance. He leverages that experience in his role as president and CEO of SA Strategies LLC, a subsidiary of SmithAmundsen.

John’s storied career has, at its heart, his love for Missouri and her citizens. The long term impact of his service will be felt across the state for many years to come. Having served as an elected official himself, John understands how the public sector and government relations can impact  businesses.

Born and raised in St. Louis, John  first gained regional attention during his public service in the City of Chesterfield, Missouri. In 1997, he served on that City's Residential Building Moratorium Commission until he became president of the city's Industrial Development Authority and chairman of its Tax Increment Financing Commission, where he focused on the recovery of the Chesterfield Valley from the Flood of 1993. Widely regarded as one of the best uses of TIF in the country, the success of the Valley allowed its TIF obligations to be paid off ten years ahead of schedule and led to substantial job growth in the area. 

From 1997-1999, he served on the board, and as president, of the Chesterfield Community Institute. In 1999, he was appointed to the city's planning commission, where he served until his election to the Chesterfield City Council in 2000.

In 2001, he was elected to the first of three successive four-year terms as Mayor of Chesterfield, MO. Among the many accomplishments of his administration, he successfully led the campaign for the city's parks tax, which allowed the construction of some of the finest parks and recreation programs and facilities in the country, established the Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District to improve the infrastructure and quality of life for residents near Chesterfield Valley, started the city's annual July 4th celebration, and became the first person from West St. Louis County to serve as president of the St. Louis County Municipal League.

In 2008, Chesterfield became the first city in the State of Missouri to receive Moody's AAA bond rating. In 2005, he was appointed by County Executive Charlie Dooley as a Regional Citizen representing St. Louis County on the East West Gateway Council of Governments, a position he held until 2010. In recognition of his efforts to promote economic development while preserving our natural heritage, John was inducted into the National Environmental Hall Of Fame in 2010.

In 2009, faced with drastic cutbacks in public transportation services, he successfully negotiated an arrangement with the Bi-State Development Agency / Metro to continue services to Chesterfield because of the critical role public transportation has in economic growth and job creation. His leadership on the transportation issue led Metro Board Chairman Vincent C. Schoemehl and President/CEO Robert J. Baer to ask him to lead the campaign for a one-half percent sales tax in St. Louis County to support public transportation. Building what is now widely viewed as one of the greatest civic coalitions in the last half century, "Proposition A" was approved by St. Louis County voters in April 2010 with 63% of the vote.

In August 2010, the Metro board selected John to succeed Baer and to lead the agency into the 21st century, building on its proud past as an economic development agency specially created by the United States Congress in 1949 to serve the Missouri-Illinois bi-state region. He went on to hold the position of president and CEO for 8 years, which is the longest tenure of any CEO in that company’s history. In June 2011, he returned to the board of directors of the East West Gateway Council of Governments as the representative of Metro. He was elected to the board of the Missouri Public Transit Association in 2011.

Membership & Involvement

  • Member: Missouri Bar Association
  • Founding Member and Board Member: Mercury Alliance, 2015-2019

  • Board of Directors: St. Louis Civic Pride, 2012-present; Logos School, 2016-present; Operation Food Search, 2018-present; Higher Education Channel Television, 2021; Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, 2010-2018; St. Ann Transportation Development District, 2016-2018
  • President & CEO: Bi-State Development, 2010-2018

  • President: Chesterfield Industrial Development Authority, 1996-1999; Chesterfield Community Development Corporation, 1998-1999; Baxter Lane Homeowners Association, 1994-2001

  • Mayor, City of Chesterfield, Missouri, 2001-2010
  • City Council, City of Chesterfield, 2000-2001

  • Planning Commission, City of Chesterfield, 1999-2000

  • Chairman: Chesterfield Valley Tax Increment Financing Commission, 1996-1999

  • Chesterfield Residential Building Moratorium Commission, 1997-1998

  • East-West Gateway Council of Governments, 2006-2010 & 2011-2018

  • Saint Louis Municipal League Board, 2002-2010; President, 2006-2007
  • Chesterfield Parks Citizens Advisory Committee, 2015-2017

  • Leader and spokesperson for “Advance St. Louis” Campaign in St. Louis County, Missouri, 2010

  • Lafayette Area Mayors Organization, 2001-2010

  • National Environmental Hall of Fame, Chesterfield Chapter, 2009

  • Missouri Senate Resolution Of Commendation, 2010

  • Missouri House of Representatives Resolution of Commendation, 2004

  • Saint Louis County Council Resolution of Commendation, 2012

  • Saint Louis Board of Aldermen Resolution of Commendation, 2012

  • Saint Louis County Executive Proclamation of Commendation, 2010
  • Saint Louis County Executive Proclamation of Commendation, 2012
  • Mayor of St. Louis Proclamation of Commendation, 2012


  • Secretary Ray LaHood Award presented by the St. Louis Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International, 2018
  • Saint Louis Business Journal Most Influential St. Louisans, 2011-2018
  • Construction Forum St. Louis Regional Unity Award, 2016

  • Inaugural “Best Mayor” voted by readers of West Newsmagazine, 2009

  • Missouri DeMolay’s “Missouri Public Official Of The Year”, 2006

  • University of Missouri Distinguished Alumni Award, 2011

  • St. Louis Boy Scouts “Good Scout Award”, 2015

  • Citizens For Modern Transit Chairman’s Award, 2010

  • St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council Construction Consumer of the Year Award, 2012

  • Rawlings Sporting Goods Greg Lurtz Memorial Award, 2003


Saint Louis University School of Law, J.D., 1988

University of Missouri- St. Louis, B.S., 1985


  • Missouri
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