12 April 2024

Missouri: More innovation, more FDI, more success

Foreign Direct Investment
| The European |

The location of choice for companies entering the US market, Missouri is a melting pot of multinational expertise and progressive startups 

In mid-2021, the US Tax Foundation’s Location Matters index was released, ranking each US state according to a long list of factors across various business scenarios. A year before this important report, Missouri dropped its corporate tax rate to 4%, and made other adjustments in tax policy, while also reducing regulations. Situated in the Midwest – an increasingly popular investment destination for global companies, with an economy ranked fourth in the world and a GDP of $4.2tn – Missouri is now ranked higher than every surrounding state including Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. 

In the Location Matters index, Missouri ranks tenth overall for new business and fourth-best for labour-intensive manufacturing facilities. The Tax Foundation also ranks Missouri as third best on its corporate tax index, a jump of two spots from 2020. Combined with generous incentives, Missouri represents a solid financial investment for companies expanding into the United States. 

This is in part due to the 2018 signing of the state’s first Open Investment Policy statement by Governor Parson. It notes that Missouri’s economy is stronger because of its successful attraction of FDI and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to ensuring equitable treatment for international companies who set up operations in Missouri. Companies headquartered in the Netherlands, Italy, Japan and Brazil are among recent investors, and today there are more than 700 international businesses in Missouri employing 144,000 people. Companies based in the UK, Germany, Canada, Japan and France supply the most FDI jobs in the state. And in 2019, Missouri was the leading state for FDI in the entire USA.  

Examples of successful foreign companies in Missouri include Bayer, GSK, Kawasaki, KWS, Prysmian Group, Refresco, Toyota, and WEG Transformers USA. 

Bayer Crop Science has its Global Seeds & Traits, and North American headquarters in the St. Louis area, and continues to grow and invest in the region. Italian company, Prysmian Group, a world leader in the energy and telecom cable systems industry has operated in Missouri for more than 50 years and continues to grow and invest. 

Headquartered in Rotterdam, Refresco is investing nearly $7m in its facility in Joplin, Missouri, creating nearly 100 new jobs in the region. Refresco is the world’s largest independent bottler of beverages for retailers and branded beverage companies. 

Clusters of expertise
Missouri has become a firm favourite for companies entering the US market. And supporting those companies is a network of innovation that stretches across the heartland of America. In 2019, 78% of all new jobs in Missouri came from the startup ecosystem and from companies setting up in Missouri for the first time. With an understanding of just how vital entrepreneurship is to the overall economic health of Missouri, the state’s world-class business ecosystem offers a wide variety of solutions for growing companies. Companies of all sizes can benefit from one of the many innovation clusters, districts, hubs and centres across Missouri. This includes the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis, a 200-acre innovation district designed to accelerate high growth startups and corporate groups across all technology sectors. Or Moonshot Labs, the first non-classified National Geospatial Intelligence Agency innovation centre, housed in the T-REX innovation center in the heart of downtown St. Louis. 

Also in St. Louis is the world’s first agtech-focused innovation cluster, 39 North is home to Bayer’s Global Seeds & Traits HQ, the Danforth Plant Science Center and German KWS’s North American headquarters. 

Batteries for Mars exploration are made in the state

In other parts of Missouri, you find St. Joseph’s Innovation Stockyard, Kansas City’s UMKC ™ Innovation Center, Digital Sandbox and the Kansas City Startup Village, all located within the Animal Health Corridor that stretches across the state from Kansas City to Columbia, Missouri. 

To the north and south, there is the Jordan Valley Innovation Center and the eFactory, both in Springfield, the Missouri Rural Enterprise and Innovation Center in Kirksville, the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Cape Girardeau, and the Joseph Newman Innovation Center in Joplin, to just name a few. 

Staying connected 
Underlying some of these more rural centres, and driving business growth across the state, is Missouri’s commitment to rural broadband expansion. In 2020, Missouri invested more than $29m in rural broadband projects, and the USDA announced an additional investment of almost $100m in grants and loans to expand high-speed internet throughout the state. 

Missouri is tailormade for the digital nomad, who can work for global tech companies during the day and walk out the front door into the heart of mother nature every evening. And the talent issue is a key statewide focus. Every state in the US has to be creative in filling talent pipelines for companies, and Missouri is using a combination of customised training, world-class colleges, creative recruitment, boot-camp systems, and apprenticeships. In fact, Missouri ranks second in the country for completed apprenticeships surpassed only by California. Missouri also offers free community college for various segments of the population. 

According to Dr Luz Irina A. Calderón Villalobos, lead of the International Genome Editing Group and General Manager at KWS, Missouri, the region “offers the prefect blend of well-established tech enterprise, high-growth companies, and startups, all profiting from an expanding […] innovative economy. The competitive advantage is provided by connectivity, great infrastructure, human potential, low costs, universities, local corporations, and affordable health systems.” 

Missouri, in the heart of the US, is a place where international companies can find more of what they need for growth, innovation and success.

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