Business Environment

Business is all about creating and leveraging advantage.  Choosing a community as a base of operations is no different.  Significant, long-term advantage can be created and sustained in the selection of the right community as a strategic partner. 

Greater St. Louis has long proved itself an advantageous partner, which is why it has such an impressive corporate resume today.  17 Fortune 1000 companies call St. Louis home, along with some of the nation’s largest privately held firms such as Enterprise Rent-a-Car and World Wide Technology. 

Some of its advantages are inherent in the size of the market, the 20th largest metropolitan area in the U.S.  Some are actually juxtaposed to that “bigness,” as the costs associated with living and working in St. Louis are actually reflective of a much smaller community.  The bottom line is that St. Louis has all the advantages that can only be found in a major market, but in a more balanced environment than one might likely expect.

Greater St. Louis is a place where both businesses and people can thrive, a place where people can live where they work. The region offers an exceptional quality of life, affordability, central location, a skilled work force, and a business-friendly environment.

Driven by a diverse and well-educated work force, Greater St. Louis is a major national business center. With an excellent quality of life and affordable cost of living, Greater St. Louis is a great base for companies and people alike.

The St. Louis area benefits from a highly diversified economy that doesn’t lean heavily on any particular sector and provides a high degree of stability.  Greater St. Louis has a business climate primed for continued growth, as the area is forging new frontiers in innovative and exciting industries.  We are targeting the following industry clusters in which the region has both existing strengths and strong growth prospects:

  • Financial and Information Services
  • Bioscience
  • Multi-modal Logistics & Manufacturing
  • Health Science and Services

Greater St. Louis also includes strong small and mid-sized business communities.  Recent progress in landing startup companies, coupled with over $1 billion in venture capital invested in technology firms from 2014-16, is establishing St. Louis as the center of innovation in the Midwest.

For startups, the resources are terrific. The region has numerous business incubators where fledgling firms can find advice, nurturing, and inexpensive office and lab space; additional information regarding entrepreneurial resources are available.

In 2015 Popular Mechanics named St. Louis number one out of the "14 Best Startups Cities in America."  In the two years since it was formed, the Regional Entrepreneur Exchange, or T-Rex as it’s known, has grown to 200 companies with 80,000 square feet of co-working and incubator space in downtown St. Louis. 

One of its tenants is Arch Grants which has gotten a lot of press for relocating dozens of such start-ups to St. Louis.  Arch Grants is a new business plan competition which awards start-up companies with a $50,000 grant, discounts on housing and office space, mentoring, free legal and accounting services, and networking.  They then work closely with St. Louis angel capital groups to secure venture capital for grantees.

T-Rex will also be home to several early stage financial tech startups.  St. Louis’ newest incubator, SixThirty, was formed to build on the strength of the financial and information services industry in Greater St. Louis.  Companies receive $100,000, offices, software and web server space, as well as free legal, training, and networking opportunities with St. Louis Financial Forum companies.

The following rankings demonstrate the strength of our business environment:

  • St. Louis ranks as the 9th most cost-competitive location to do business among the U.S. metros with populations exceeding two million, according to a study released by KPMG LLP in 2016. KPMG's Competitive Alternatives study measured different cost components, including labor, taxes, real estate and utilities, as well as non-cost-competitive factors.
  • St. Louis ranks as the 7th of the "Top 10 Large American Cities of the Future 2013/14 - Human Resources" in Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) magazine's ranking, which includes over 400 cities throughout North America and Latin America.
  • The percentage of St. Louisans age 25 or older with bachelor’s degrees or higher — more than 30 percent — exceeds the national average, according to the American Community Survey 2015. This same survey found that among St. Louis area residents 25 or older, 12.8 percent have graduate or professional degrees, exceeding the U.S. average of 11.6 percent.

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