Missouri – Getting To Work Early And Staying Late

01 May, 2016

A Response from Governor Jay Nixon

Q-What is the current “state of the state?”

A-Missouri is surging ahead with a balanced budget, AAA credit rating and thousands of new high-paying jobs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Missouri leads the nation in new business creation—with more new startups than all of our surrounding states combined. Today, seven years since the national recession shook our economy to its core, Missouri employers have created more than 100,000 new jobs. Cerner’s Trails Campus, the largest economic development project in Missouri history, continues to rise from the blighted site of the former Bannister Mall. Once on life support, the Ford Assembly Plant in Claycomo now produces more vehicles than any other Ford plant in the world.  And more entrepreneurs and startups are skipping Silicon Valley and choosing to put down roots right here in the Show-Me State.

Q-What are specific goals Missouri is trying to accomplish in the short term and long term?

A-To build on our economic momentum, I’ve put forward an agenda to continue improving our schools so students can excel in the 21st century workforce while we create thousands of jobs and cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators right here in the heartland.

Specifically, to bolster education, we are investing in more challenging classes and better-trained teachers. We need more technology in the classroom and more students studying subjects like computer science. We need to keep college affordable so that more students can unlock the dream of a higher education. Missouri is a top 10 state for high school graduation rates and is leading the country in holding down tuition increases at public universities.

To encourage entrepreneurs and continue developing the state’s rich tech ecosystem, I’ve put forward an increased budget of $10 million for the Missouri Technology Corporation, an agency that co-invests in innovative science-driven startups at a crucial time in their formation. We want to make sure that the best ideas, like Newsy, Yurbuds, and LockerDome, take root and grow right here in the Show-Me State. To do that, we need to make sure they have access to capital. For the first time ever, Missouri is a top 10 state for startup funding (Forbes), and we are home to the top venture capital investors in the Midwest.

Q-What are the biggest challenges you see for Missouri in terms of economic development and growth?

A-Our greatest challenge is the same challenge all states face to be leaders in business and industry, namely, having the best, most competitive 21st century workforce. Today’s businesses need highly educated workers who are as creative as they are competitive: problem solvers and innovators who are ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century and turn them into opportunities. We need our youth to take classes in coding, science and math.

Again, this is why my budget includes smart, forward-looking investments, including an increase of $150 million for our local public schools and an additional $56 million in performance funding for our colleges and universities. Education is key because it is the best economic development tool there is. We are proud to say that we are home to many innovative workforce development programs, like LaunchCode and Innovation Campuses, which are preparing tomorrow’s workforce through accelerated classes and apprenticeships.

Q-What are the most recent success stories in terms of economic development? Industries that have chosen to relocate and/or expand and what made them select Missouri?

A-Last month, I joined leaders from Pramata and LaunchCode in the bustling Kansas City Crossroads Arts District to talk about how Missouri has become a hub for high-tech jobs, innovation and entrepreneurship. Pramata is a San Francisco-based technology company that’s setting up shop in the heart of Kansas City. LaunchCode is a startup founded by Missouri native Jim McKelvey that trains workers in computer science. Both enterprises are prime examples of how Missouri is leveraging its human capital to create jobs and build a brighter future.

Also in the tech sector, Missouri-grown startup World Wide Technology last December announced 500 new jobs and a $95 million investment in St. Louis. More and more entrepreneurs and startups are skipping Silicon Valley and choosing to put down roots right here in the Show-Me State because they’re able to find the rich network of talent and resources needed for success.

Long term, we must continue what’s working. We know what businesses are looking for because they tell us: They like our competitive business climate, top-notch workforce and low taxes. They appreciate our affordable communities, quality of life, central location and performance-based incentives.

Q-Is the state providing significant incentives for businesses to locate there?

A-In 2013, Missouri created the performance-based Missouri Works incentive tool, a program that received top marks for its effectiveness from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Missouri Works tax incentive program is responsive to important, high-growth industries, such as technology, advanced manufacturing, and financial and professional services, and opens the door for smaller businesses to access benefits when creating as few as two new jobs. Smaller companies and startups, such as Forrest Innovations, Kaiima Bio-Agritech and Evogene, all in the AgTech sphere, are using the program to leverage assets to hire key personnel or purchase new equipment.

Missouri Works takes into account the overall size and growth potential of a company, average annual wages of new jobs and the level of economic distress of the project area, among other factors, in helping encourage investment and job creation.

The program also has a training component—Missouri Works Training—which helps companies train and maintain a highly competitive workforce. Whether a company is bringing in a new product line or new technology, our program can help them offset training costs so that they can grow on a global scale.

Q-Where are the areas of greatest growth within the state in terms of industries and location?

A-Making up a significant part of America’s breadbasket, Missouri helps feed the world. As a leader in agriculture, our cattle, soybeans and cotton production is among the top 10 nationally. Missouri also has the highest concentration of plant scientists in the world and the second-most farms nationally. The state is home to the KC Animal Health Corridor, the largest concentration of industry assets in the world, and the nation’s first AgTech accelerator, The Yield Lab, was formed right here in Missouri. What this ultimately means is that Missouri is becoming the AgTech capitol of the world.

The state’s entrepreneurial successes and big-name corporate expansions of companies, such as Monsanto, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Cerner and World Wide Technology are catapulting the state’s reputation as a tech and bioscience leader. Missouri is also attracting investments from afar. Just this year, the Missouri Department of Economic Development has helped bioscience companies, such as Lacgene, Eurofins, Evogene and Forrest Innovations, as well as animal health companies, such as Ceva and Jurox, expand operations and U.S. headquarters to the state.

Missouri’s automotive industry also has rebounded with employment rising above pre-recession levels. Since 2010, at least 64 automotive plants and parts suppliers, many of which are new to the state, have created or retained more than 16,200 jobs and invested a combined $2.26 billion to grow their facilities in Missouri. Over that same time, Ford and General Motors have more than doubled their employment levels. Today, this industry provides jobs to more than 24,000 Missourians who are making some of the smartest and safest vehicles on the road, such as the 2015 North American Truck of the Year, the Ford F-150 pickup; the Ford Transit van—America’s best-selling full-size van; Autoweek’s 2015 Best of the Best Truck, the GMC Canyon; and the 2016 Motor Trend Truck of the Year, the Chevrolet Colorado.

Q-How is the state dealing with the need for a well-educated and trained work force?

A-I’ve put forward an agenda to invest in the best economic development tool there is: education. In addition to having one of the highest graduation rates in the country, Missouri is also a top 10 state for increasing the percentage of adults with a college degree, and last year more than 50,000 students earned a degree from one of Missouri’s public institutions, an increase of 36 percent since 2008.

My budget builds on this progress with smart, forward-looking investments: an increase of $150 million for our K-12 classrooms, including funding to help struggling schools improve. An additional $56 million in performance funding for our colleges and universities will help them once again freeze tuition for Missouri undergraduates – and help keep Missouri No. 1 in the nation in holding down tuition hikes at public universities. We also are investing in early education through our Start Smart program, helping communities throughout the state develop pre-kindergarten classrooms, some for the first time.

Q-What are your greatest assets at this time?

A-Missouri has a spotless AAA credit rating and a strong business climate, but the No. 1 factor behind business decisions to locate and invest in Missouri is the strength of our workforce. Today’s businesses need highly skilled and educated workers. Missourians get to work early and stay late—that is a reputation that continues to attract new companies around the world. And through initiatives like the A+ program, which I proposed to increase by $7 million this fiscal year, more and more Missourians are able to continue their educations. Today, more than one-third of our workforce holds a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Our central location and our strong transportation system also make Missouri the ideal location for companies needing to get their products to their customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Missouri is home to the largest river system in the country, one of the least-congested highway systems, thousands of miles of railroad tracks and 90-plus airports.

Q-Are there special initiatives or innovative programs that are making a difference within the state in terms of economic development?

A-The Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) invests in Missouri’s companies of tomorrow and focuses on 21st century technology and bioscience industries, which build on Missouri’s advantages in tech and innovation. This unique public-private partnership recently was ranked the top venture capital group in the Midwest by Pitchbook, based on the number of investments from 2010 to 2014.

Specific MTC programs supporting tech startups include the Missouri Building Entrepreneurial Capacity Program (MOBEC) and the Missouri Innovation, Development and Entrepreneurship Advancement (IDEA) Funds. Through MOBEC, MTC makes strategic investments in non-profits that expand and enrich the ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs who are commercializing new technologies or that enhance the capacity of Missouri to grow its innovation economy. MTC uses the MOBEC program to catalyze and support local and regional initiatives that assist high-tech entrepreneurs. MOBEC grant funds are matched by other non-state funding sources. Since 2011, MTC has awarded more than $6 million through the MOBEC program to communities across the state to help them build their capacity to support Missouri entrepreneurs.

The IDEA Funds promote the formation and growth of businesses that engage in the transfer of science and technology into job creation by co-investing directly into a firm. This early stage capital helps young companies at a crucial time by helping them leverage additional private investments. Through the IDEA Funds, MTC has co-invested in 82 Missouri startups. Those companies have leveraged MTC’s investment to raise more than $280 million in additional capital to help grow their businesses and create jobs.

Q-What are the lifestyle benefits of locating to Missouri?

A-Urban powerhouses St. Louis and Kansas City provide rich art, history, culture, live shows, concerts and fun. You can even take in professional sports, such as the 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. It’s also easy to get away and connect with nature in the Show-Me State’s many state parks, packed with scenic river ways and our nationally recognized trail system.

Q- Other thoughts or marketing features that you would like to highlight about Missouri?

A-Missouri’s Department of Economic Development is the No. 1 economic development agency in the country, as named by the nation’s premier international brokerage and consulting firm, AEDI/Pollina Corporate. This ranking is the first time the organization has formally ranked state agencies, making Missouri the first to ever receive the distinction.

Related Posts