Driven by an emphasis on agritech, the USA’s industrial powerhouse is home to global companies benefitting from world-class logistics and R&D infrastructure
For many business leaders around the world, the centre of the United States is an unknown quantity. New York and Silicon Valley may grab the headlines, yet many companies are now discovering the vast potential in what is sometimes referred to as “fly over country.”
The Midwest United States has a population of 68 million, which is one-fifth of all Americans, making it as populous as Britain or France. Collectively, the gross product of the region is worth nearly $4tn, ranking alongside Germany as the world’s fourth-largest economy.
Manufacturing is strong in this part of the USA, where the percentage of workforce dedicated to it exceeds the US average. And it is ripe with innovation, with 16 of the USA’s 50 top-ranked medical schools, and 21% of America’s patent filings. In short, the Midwest is an industrial powerhouse driven by world-class universities and R&D centres.
Located in the heart of the US Midwest is Missouri with the third best corporate income tax index and second most completed apprenticeships in the US. Home to more than 700 international companies and with the third fastest FDI employment growth in the US, Missouri can confidently say, “fly over this!”
Agritech: Green industry, sustainable profits
Agriculture is a huge industry in Missouri, generating more than $94bn in annual sales and supporting around 450,000 jobs. For many years, Missouri organisations and companies have been focused on green tech, sustainable agriculture and seed innovation to ensure that the world’s growing population has the food, fuel and fibre needed, in a way that protects the environment for decades to come.
In 2018, Germany’s Bayer Crop Science invested $66bn into Missouri as they acquired Monsanto. They then moved their existing US crop employees from around the US to Missouri and have continued to grow their presence in the heart of Missouri’s 39 North, the world’s first agritech-focused innovation district.
“Our talented workforce across Missouri, and especially in the St. Louis region, is a vital asset in our ability to develop and deliver new tools and innovations to farmers,” says Lisa Safarian, President, Commercial Operations North America at Bayer. “At Bayer, we are delighted to offer these highly skilled, good jobs in the St. Louis region that will continue to positively shape agriculture in our state, region, and world.”
German company KWS’s North American Research Centre is also in Missouri. They are one of the world’s leading plant breeding companies. Their high-yield seed and extensive knowledge have made them a trusted partner to farmers for more than 160 years. The company focuses on plant breeding and the production and sales of grains for corn, sugar beet, cereals, rapeseed, sunflowers and vegetables, using cutting-edge methods to increase farmers’ yields and improve resistance to diseases, pests, and abiotic stress.
“Being in the location has helped the expansion of our research and innovation activities substantially,” says Dr Luz Irina A Calderon Villalobos, Lead Genome Editing & KWS Gateway Research Center Manager. “KWS GRC has undoubtedly benefitted from St. Louis’s corporate and innovation ecosystem.”
Another German company with a significant presence in Missouri is Boehringer Ingelheim, a leading supplier of animal health products for livestock. They are based in St. Joseph and are a leading company in Missouri’s Animal Health Corridor. The company recently invested more than $22m to increase its capacity to manufacture vaccines for livestock.
“The vaccines manufactured today in […] St. Joseph make a major difference for both the pets and livestock animals of our customers,” says Veronique Kodjo, global head of industrial operations for Boehringer Ingelheim’s Animal Health business. “The company has pioneered many important advancements in vaccines, and we continue to focus on health and prevention as core principles of our Animal Health business.” The company’s Missouri facility is its largest animal health manufacturing operation globally.
In more rural Missouri, companies like POET Bioprocessing in Macon convert corn into biofuels and are mitigating America’s dependence on fossil fuels while at the same time focused on becoming a carbon neutral operation.
“We are heavily invested in trying to advance biofuels, from numerous sources,” says Scott Tuttle, GM of POET. “We think that agriculture has a huge role to play in the future, because one, you can be clean, and two, we are working with farmers to help them expand their practices to make them cleaner and emit less CO2, and it is renewable.”
Missouri’s utilities are also heading towards being carbon neutral. Evergy, which serves the western part of Missouri will be carbon neutral by 2045 and Ameren on the eastern side will hit that target in 2050. In other parts of the state served by cooperatives, 25% of power is currently from renewables.
The world leading Danforth Plant Science Center and Missouri Botanical Garden are headquartered in Missouri, and one of agritech’s latest unicorns, Benson Hill, continues to invest and grow in Missouri following their $1.35bn IPO. Benson Hill recently built their new $52m, 160,000 square foot (14,864 sqm approx.) headquarters in the state.
This robust ecosystem attracts visitors from all over the world on a regular basis, both in-person and virtually. In 2020, immediately prior to the global shutdown, a group of innovators and business leaders who were members of the Cambridge, UK-based Agri-TechE, visited Missouri for a week-long immersion tour designed to build collaboration and identify opportunities.
The visit included visits to 39 North, the College of Agriculture at the University of Missouri, and other key innovation locations across the state.
“I think there are a lot of similarities between the innovation ecosystems for agriculture and agritech here as there are in our ecosystem in the UK,” says Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE.
The green crop that pays
And in this Midwest state they also are adept at growing another kind of green – money. The state has held a AAA bond rating for more than 50 years and is home to more than 12% of the US reinsurance agency employees. In addition, Missouri is home to the second-highest concentration of financial securities brokerage firms among major US metropolitan areas, surpassed only by New York.
Some of the companies headquartered in the state include H&R Block, Wells Fargo Advisors, Stifel, RGA and Edward Jones. In addition, the state is home to the largest concentration of MasterCard employees in the world due to it being the home of MasterCard’s global operations centre, handling every MasterCard transaction on the planet. Missouri is also the birthplace of Square and home to its fastest growing and largest office anywhere.
Missouri also makes sure their financial services crop is always getting new seed, with nearly 40 colleges and universities across the state offering bachelor’s or higher degrees in finance and accounting.
A leader in renewing and restoring
Missouri is also a global leader in remanufacturing, and technology that sustains machinery and products long-term. In Springfield, in south-western Missouri, a huge remanufacturing industry has been growing over the past few decades. The industry creates a unique opportunity for customers by meeting the service needs of their equipment at a lower price point, with quality equivalent to new parts. This saves money and has significant positive environmental benefits through the reuse and recycling of material.
Springfield is home to multiple remanufacturing companies and is known as the nation’s remanufacturing hub or “ReMan Capital of the US.” Companies like John Deere Reman, Case New Holland and SRC are leaders in the industry and have seen significant growth in recent years. Remanufactured equipment must meet the same high standards for strength, integrity and precision as new equipment, so leaders in the industry are quick to point out that it’s not recycling, used, repaired, refurbished, or restored. It is fully remanufactured.
“John Deere Reman is committed to helping our customers become more profitable and sustainable across the full lifecycle of our products,” says Jena Holtberg-Benge, Manager, John Deere Reman Business.
Charged for the future
Looking ahead, Missouri is already geared up to be a leader in emerging technology. EaglePicher, headquartered in Joplin, is already powering ongoing Mars missions, the International Space Station and minute medical devices with their lithium-ion and thermal battery innovation.
Pfizer scientists in Missouri played a key role in developing the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. According to Pfizer, the Chesterfield, Missouri, plant is the primary site of raw materials production for the vaccine. Scientists in Chesterfield are producing the “plasmid DNA” that Pfizer described as the “template required to manufacture the mRNA vaccine.”
And Ford is building their new E-Transit vans in Missouri after recently investing $100m in their Missouri facility.
“Commercial vehicles are a critical component to our big bet on electrification,” says Ford COO Jim Farley. “As leaders in this space, we are accelerating our plans to create solutions that help businesses run better, starting with our all-electric Transit and F-150. This Ford Transit isn’t just about creating an electric drivetrain, it’s about designing and developing a digital product that propels fleets forward.”
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