St. Louis: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

St. Louis is the world headquarters of 19 Fortune 1000 companies, including Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., Emerson Electric, May Department Stores, Graybor Electric, and Monsanto Company. Greater St. Louis ranks thirteenth in the United States as a headquarters location for Fortune 500 companies. The city boasts three of the nation's 100 fastest-growing companies; Talx, Panera Bread, and Engineered Support Systems. St. Louis supports a strong manufacturing sector; the three major American automakers—General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford—operate assembly plants in the area. St. Louis is also the base for the Eighth Federal Reserve District Bank and several national insurance and brokerage firms.

In March 2002 Fortune magazine recognized St. Louis as "among the regional hubs in the United States for both agricultural and health care biotechnology"; the city is emerging as a center for major new economy industries. World class research and development in plant and life sciences is conducted by industry giants such as Pfizer and Centocor; St. Louis is becoming known as the heart of the bio-belt for progress in this arena. The city boasts of a high concentration of information technology jobs. With an already-strong manufacturing base, St. Louis is a center for advanced manufacturing; the area boasts of 190,000 jobs and 4,000 establishments applying advanced technology innovations.

Items and goods produced: meat, bread, beer, flour, granary products, malt, liquors, chemicals, drugs, paints and varnish, machinery, refrigerators, clothing, iron and steel, street and railroad cars, shoes, paper products, hardware, millinery, trucks, automotive parts, petroleum and coal, non-ferrous metals, stone, clay and glass, furniture, aircraft, aerospace equipment

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA) is the economic development organization for the Greater St. Louis region. Developers may receive assistance with renovations and new construction projects through the St. Louis Real Estate Tax Abatement program.

State programs

The State of Missouri offers a variety of incentives to assist new and existing businesses. Financing, taxation, and incentive programs available through the state of Missouri include the Missouri Build-Incentive Program, by which the state provides state income-tax credits to businesses locating to Missouri or expanding their business. Eligible businesses include manufacturing-type companies that invest a minimum of $15 million and create at least 100 new jobs within 3 years, and office projects that invest a minimum of $10 million and create at least 500 new jobs within 3 years. The Missouri Small Business Development Center and the University of Missouri provide business counseling, new and ongoing employee training, and online resources for small businesses. Missouri offers a variety of programs that grant tax credits based upon factors such as job creation and/or capital investment. Examples include enterprise zones, and Missouri New and Expanding Business Facility Tax Credits. Tax increment financing is also available.

Job training programs

Several programs are designed to improve worker productivity, such as grants to businesses that provide training to employees. Comprehensive training and employment services are offered by the Missouri Career Centers. Federal programs such as the Job Training Partnership Act are also available. The Missouri Customized Job Training Program is designed to assist new and expanding businesses in recruiting, screening, testing and training workers, and to help existing employers retain their current workforce when faced with needed upgrading and retraining. On-the-job-training is also available, with up to 50 percent of trainee wages being reimbursable. The Ozarks Technical College New Jobs Training Program provides training funding for new and expanding companies that create new jobs. Services include customized training, adult basic education, on-the-job training, and general occupational skill training. Funding is based on the number of new jobs created and the average annual salary of the new jobs.

Development Projects

St. Louis has a variety of development projects underway or recently completed to restore the city's history and revitalize it for the future. In 2005, ongoing and proposed development investments totaled more than $4.5 billion dollars. Rehabilitation and new development projects include construction of commercial and office buildings, hotels and entertainment centers, residential facilities, education centers, industrial manufacturing sites, institutional and health care centers, parks and recreation, and community and government facilities.

The massive Forest Park, site of the 1904 World's Fair and the home to St. Louis' main cultural institutions, has undergone a $100 million transformation. Once stagnant ponds and lakes are now connected by a river that greatly improves park aesthetics. More than 7,500 new trees were planted, historic areas and buildings were preserved, and recreational facilities and park facilities were upgraded.

The St. Louis Commerce Center was recently completed. GPX, Inc is the main tenant of the $15 million center, occupying 180,000 of the center's 486,000 square feet.

The home of the Cardinals will be destroyed and completely rebuilt. The new Busch Stadium will offer seating for 46,000 fans when the facility opens for the 2006 baseball season. Adjacent to the new Busch Stadium and in the footprint of the old stadium will be BallPark Village, a $300 million mixed use development that will include residential and office space, an aquarium, and a Cardinals museum.

The Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is expanding. The first of three phases in the expansion plan includes a new 9,000 foot taxiway. The $10 million project is expected to be complete in November 2005 and will allow the airport to manage simultaneous landings even in inclement weather.

Economic Development Information: St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, One Metropolitan Square, Suite 1300, St. Louis, MO 63102; telephone (314)231-5555; fax (314)206-3277; email

Commercial Shipping

St. Louis is a primary national center for air, land, and water transportation networks. Among the commodities shipped through the city are coal, grain, cement, petroleum products, and chemicals. One of the nation's leading rail centers, St. Louis is served by six Class I, two regional, and three switching railroad lines. Four interstate highways converge in St. Louis, affording trucking companies overnight to third-morning access to markets throughout the country. Many of these firms maintain terminals within the Commercial Truck Zone, which covers all or portions of a seven-county area. St. Louis is the nation's third-largest inland port, as well as the country's northernmost port with ice-free access year round; the port connects St. Louis via the Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri river system with New Orleans and international waterways. St. Louis waterways offer more than 100 docks and terminal facilities; 32 million tons of freight are handled annually.

Air freight service is available at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. MidAmerica Airport in St. Clair County in Illinois provides state-of-the-art facilities for cargo.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Experienced workers are available in St. Louis. During the 1990s thousands of jobs were lost as major employers downsized, moved out, or merged. In response to the state and nation-wide economic downturn of the early 2000s, the Missouri state legislature has passed several legislative bills to stimulate economic growth and decrease unemployment. The state as a whole continues to experience stability and growth, recognizing four times the national growth rate in the manufacturing sector. In the northern metro St. Louis region, several areas show strong momentum with St. Charles, Warren, and Franklin counties ranked as top performers. According to a Missouri Department of Economic Development news release in April 2005, St. Louis also continues to experience decreasing unemployment and increasing employment growth. In November 2004, it was reported that the city experienced the second fastest job growth year-to-year for the nation. Main industries in the St. Louis area include: aviation, biotechnology, chemicals, electrical utilities, food and beverage manufacturing, refining, research, telecommunications, and transportation.

The following is a summary of data regarding the St. Louis metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 1,322,800

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 80,500

manufacturing: 144,700

trade, transportation and public utilities: 253,200

information: 29,600

financial accounting: 77,600

professional and business services: 179,800

educational and health services: 195,700

leisure and hospitality services: 136,900

other services: 58,000

government: 167,000

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $21.90

Unemployment rate: 6.3% (February 2005)

St. Louis: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
BJC Health Systems 21,468
Boeing International Defense Systems 15,500
Scott Air Force Base 12,600
Washington University in St. Louis 12,324
Wal-Mart Stores 12,250
SSM Health Care 11,951

St. Louis: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
U.S. Postal Service 11,447
Schnuck Markets, Inc. 10,800
SBC Communications. 9,250

Cost of Living

Among the nation's top 20 metro areas, St. Louis boasts the second most affordable housing market and one of the lowest costs of living in the country. A typical management transferee home—a 2,200 sq. ft. home with four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a family room, and two-car garage—could be purchased at an average price of $229,325.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the St. Louis area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $241,522

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 100.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: graduated from 1.5% to 6.0%

State sales tax rate: 4.225%

Local income tax rate: 1.0%

Local sales tax rate: 1.375%

Property tax rate: personal property is assessed at 33-1/3%. Rates vary by tax jurisdiction

Economic Information: St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association, One Metropolitan Square, Suite 1300, St. Louis, MO 63102; telephone (314)231-5555; fax (314)206-3277. State of Missouri, Department of Economic Development, P.O. Box 1157, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0118. Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, 3315 W. Truman Blvd., PO Box 504, Jefferson City, MO 65102; telephone (573)751-4091; fax (573) 751-4135