Missouri Delegation Impresses Virgin Hyperloop One Delegation During Hyperloop Track Visit

by St. Louis Regional Chamber | Sep 25, 2018

On September 19, a high-level delegation of Missouri leaders visited Virgin Hyperloop One’s Devloop, the only fully-functioning, full scale hyperloop system in the world. The delegation received a VIP tour of the test facility, led by Virgin Hyperloop One’s Chief Engineer Rob Ferber and joined by their Chief Financial Officer Axel Martinez and Vice President of Global Projects Dan Katz. Missouri brought one of the highest-level multi-sector delegations to visit the test track - representing the strong statewide effort being put forth to attract Hyperloop investment to Missouri. 

“Missouri is a top contender for the world’s first hyperloop. The state has one of the most favorable regulatory and cost environments, and I am impressed by the breadth of engagement we are seeing from both the public and private sector to move this project forward. We look forward to releasing results from the feasibility study in October, which will further highlight how this technology can support local business across the state,” said Axel Martinez, Chief Financial Officer at Virgin Hyperloop One.

Among the Missouri delegation attendees were:

  • Elijah Haahr, Missouri State Representative District 134, Incoming Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives
  • Travis Fitzwater, Missouri State Representative District 49 (Callaway County near I-70)
  • Brian Williams, Missouri State Senator-elect District 14 (Lambert Airport district)
  • Rob Dixon, Director, Missouri Department of Economic Development
  • Subash Alias, Senior Vice President, Missouri Partnership
  • Mun Choi, President, University of Missouri System
  • Bill Turpin, CEO, Missouri Innovation Center
  • Tom Chulick, CEO, St. Louis Regional Chamber
  • Joe Reardon, CEO Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
  • Andrew Smith, VP Entrepreneurship & Innovation, St. Louis Regional Chamber
  • Lori Becklenberg, VP Economic Development, St. Louis Regional Chamber
  • Austin Walker, Director of Public Policy, St. Louis Regional Chamber
  • Jill McCarthy, Senior Executive, Corporate Attraction, Kansas City Area Development Council
  • Christine Murray, Senior Director, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
  • Drew Solomon, Senior Vice President, Economic Development Council of Kansas City
  • Ryan Weber, President, KC Tech Council
  • Jamie Gilbert, Principal GBA Engineering
  • Clinton Robinson, Black & Veatch
  • Brant Bukowski, CEO, Veterans United

Patrick McKenna, Executive Director of MODOT, was expected to attend but had a last-minute conflict. 

According to Andrew Smith, VP of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber and co-founder of the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, the Missouri delegation took 5 key takeaways from the visit:

  1. Hyperloop technology is significantly farther along in the development than most people realize. Virgin Hyperloop One continues to say that they expect to make some decisions about first builds in 2019 and begin construction on routes as early as 2020.  In fact, we believe that the first announcement regarding an agreement to build an inter-city route could come as early as Q1 of 2019.
  2. The approach to build-out and commercial is solid and practical. There is no “whiz-bang,” just a lot of detailed, lean thinking.  Hyperloop will cost less than high speed rail with minimal land use/environmental impact but greater benefits.  Many of the components being used at Devloop have already been “perfected” in other industrial applications.
  3. The world is at the beginning of a transportation revolution that will unfold over the next 20-30 years. The economic forces this will unleash will be world-changing. The scope of global research and development into Hyperloop and related technologies (advanced materials, vacuum, propulsion, magnetic levitation) is impressive. Other areas in the world are absolutely committed to rolling this technology out in the near term, and the projected economic impacts are in the tens of billions of dollars per year.
  4. Missouri has the resources, will-power, and ingenuity to make this happen. Virgin Hyperloop One re-iterated their commitment to Missouri, which they consider one of the top 5 if not top 3 priority routes in the world.  This is due to Missouri’s natural advantages (location and geography), favorable regulatory and cost environment, and—most importantly—the deep engagement the company is seeing from both the public and private sectors.
  5. Missouri is fortunate to have so many young, visionary leaders involved in the public sector and interested in infrastructure and workforce development. No other state has brought such a high-level delegation to the test site, and Virgin Hyperloop One was particularly impressed by the caliber of our public sector leaders on the visit.  Although we anticipate that the project will be financed almost entirely by private sector investment, public sector support is essential to create the right political and regulatory climate.

“Missouri has an opportunity to be at the leading edge of some of the most advanced transportation technology being discussed anywhere in the world today,” said Rob Dixon, Missouri Department of Economic Development. “Innovative thinking like this has been a part of Missouri’s story throughout our history, and it should be a part of our future.”

Aside from inspecting the technology and learning more about the company’s commercialization plans, the delegation also had the opportunity to “pitch” Virgin Hyperloop One on economic development opportunities that would potentially lead to significant capital investment and job creation in Missouri. The attractiveness of Missouri’s University system, the strength of its advanced manufacturing/aerospace workforce, and the creativity of its economic development approach were all noted by executives from Virgin Hyperloop One.

“Fundamentally, building big projects in the U.S. requires big thinking at the local level, which is exactly what we are seeing in the State of Missouri. A unified economic development mega-region consisting of Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis would combine the economic power of the state’s two largest metro areas and the university into an economic powerhouse of five million residents, right in the Heartland of the U.S.,” said Dan Katz, Director of Global Public Policy and North American Projects at Virgin Hyperloop One.

“Missouri is taking bold steps into the 21st century with a new tax policy, a modernized utility grid, an increased focus on workforce development, and some of our nation’s best universities. This, along with the option to connect Kansas City to St. Louis via Hyperloop One, makes us the perfect location for this transformative opportunity.”

“Hyperloop through Missouri will be a paradigm shift in what we know about transportation.  As Missouri’s public research institution, we are excited about contributing to this monumental effort,” said Mon Choi, president of the University of Missouri System.

Hyperloop videos: 


For more information, please contact Courtney Mueller at cmueller@vectorstl.com or call 314-660-1518.


About the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition
Formed in October 2017, the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition is a public-private partnership to advance the building of a hyperloop route linking linking Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis along the I-70 interstate corridor. The coalition is comprised of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the KC Tech Council, the University of Missouri System, and the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia. Coalition organizers include Andrew Smith, Bill Turpin, Ryan Weber, and Thomas Blair as well as other private sector leaders. 

About the St. Louis Regional Chamber
We are a broad community of leaders committed to inspiring a greater St. Louis and growing the bi-state region’s economy. Our goal is to make St. Louis one of the top-ten most economically prosperous regions in the U.S. by 2025. Driving economic development is about putting people first. When we work together and achieve our goal, the St. Louis region will be a more inclusive and attractive place to live, work and invest for all people.  This is our strategy to achieve our goal:  First, strengthen the economic clusters where we are already strong and have global potential for growth – financial services, health, logistics, and biosciences.  Second, create new economic opportunities and mobility by leading initiatives to achieve greater education attainment, inclusion and talent attraction, entrepreneurship and innovation. Third, advocate for forward-thinking economic policies that result in racial equity, a more safe and secure region and substantial investments our region’s infrastructure.  www.stlregionalchamber.com