Study Validates Greater St. Louis’ Competitive Business Costs

by Tim Alexander | May 16, 2016

Greater St. Louis is known as an affordable place to live.  However, information on St. Louis’ competitive business costs are less well-known.

KPMG Competitive Alternatives is a biennial comparison of business costs and other location factors for larger U.S. and international metro areas.  Competitive Alternatives 2016 compares business costs in 10 countries including at least one city in each U.S. state.  “The study examines 26 individual cost factors that are likely to vary significantly by location." 

Greater St. Louis has a low overall cost index of 96.1 (the four largest U.S. metro areas = 100).  This makes us the 9th least expensive of the U.S. large international metro areas (over 2 million in population) in the report.

The report also reviews costs for several types of business operations.  As illustrated in the table below, St. Louis’ business costs are below the U.S. cost index of 100 for all of these business types.  St. Louis has a significant cost advantage in R&D and corporate operations.

Business Type

St. Louis

Digital – two types of software development and production


R&D – combination of biomedical research, clinical trials, and electronics design and testing


Corporate – combination of financial services and shared accounting, IT, and call center services


Manufacturing – combination of 12 different types of manufacturing


This report, like the cost of living index, does not include data on taxes.  Taxes vary widely based on location, assets, income, spending, and other factors that are difficult to meaningfully average for a metro area. 

St. Louis’ business costs are very competitive, especially for a large metro area.  Competitive Alternatives provides important standardized data to businesses on cost factors by location and business type.  This data is valuable for business site location decisions and validates St. Louis’ competitive business costs as a key strength of the region.