“It’s very hard to talk about advanced manufacturing without talking about Missouri’s dominance in aerospace and autos. It’s a major sector with nearly 6,500 manufacturing operations employing 273,000 Missourians—more than 11 percent of the total employment in the state,” Alias said.
“Missouri is rightfully proud of its advanced manufacturing sector. The sector is strong, and supported by a transportation network that is within 600 miles of 37 percent of all U.S. manufacturing businesses,” he added.
Expansions, livability and training dominate reports about the state’s business attractability. Missouri consistently ranks as one of the top states for overall cost of living, and incomes are expected to grow, Alias said. Joplin was named one of the best manufacturing cities in the country. St. Louis was named one of the 10 best cities in the U.S. to move to.
“Grit and determination set us apart. We have a winning mentality, and it shows, from our world champion sports teams to business. Ford and General Motors produce more than 770,000 vehicles in Missouri every year. Boeing manufactures several military jets in our state, including the F/A-18, EA-18, F-15 and T-7. Advanced manufacturers in Missouri churn out a long list of impressive products. From the number one selling Tracker fishing boat to batteries used by NASA to power space missions,” he added.
The state exports more than $6.5 billion in advanced manufacturing products to more than 185 countries every year. As companies rely more and more on advanced manufacturing equipment, the state is taking steps to meet the demand for a highly skilled technical workforce, a top priority for the Parson administration.
Last August, the governor signed Senate Bill 68 into law, a comprehensive economic development strategy designed to further workforce and economic development. “This legislation gives us the tools we need to be more competitive and shows companies everywhere that Missouri is open for business,” Parson said when making the announcement.
The law provided for several workforce advantages, including:
- New automotive incentives that grant up to $25 million in tax credits to automotive manufacturers that invest $500 million in plant upgrades, while agreeing to retain current workers, and then an additional $25 million in tax credits if they invest another $250 million.
- Fast Track, a new scholarship program that is filling workforce gaps through financial aid for adult learners pursuing education and training in high demand industries. More than 600 applications have been received for the incentive grant program so far.
- Deal closing fund through Missouri Works, the state’s No. 1 incentive tool for expansion and retention. The fund serves as a negotiating tool to help businesses access capital through withholdings or tax credits. Complementing the program is the state’s Missouri Works Training program, designed to get a workforce up to speed quickly.
- Missouri One Start, a division of the state’s Department of Economic Development, was created to assist new and existing businesses in recruiting, training or upskilling their employees. For eligible new or expanding businesses, a suite of recruitment services also is available. The Parson administration has allocated $42 million toward Missouri One Start.
“Having the right workforce with the right skillset is critical for a company and directly impacts their bottom line. Missouri One Start partners with companies to understand their unique workforce challenges and designs a tailored program to meet those needs,” said Kristie Davis, Director of Missouri One Start.
From well before an investment announcement to long after the groundbreaking, companies can partner with Missouri One Start to receive resources from pre-employment assistance to creating a customized training program so their workers are ready on Day 1 and beyond, Davis said. “Eligible companies that are new to the state or are expanding can receive help with recruitment, onboarding or training and upskilling.”
Programs are flexible and scalable, she added. Training, for example, is tailored to the unique workforce needs of the business—and it’s their choice how it’s delivered. Training funds can be used to offset the cost of their internal trainer, a third-party vendor or a customized solution provided by our network of technical schools and community colleges.
So far, Missouri One Start has funded more than 250 companies in 2020 with customized training funds.
Missouri also officially reached 10,000 new registered apprenticeships in 2019, ranking the state second in the nation for new apprenticeships.
Innovation abounds in the state, Alias said, from universities to leading-edge technology companies. Missouri talent at EaglePicher Technologies designs and makes specialty batteries for NASA’s space program, including NASA’s InSight Lander, which currently is on the surface of Mars.
And recently, the International Space Station launched a satellite that undergraduate engineering students at Saint Louis University spent nearly three years building. The Argus-2 satellite will capture images of Earth and demonstrate how well memory storage devices perform in space.
“One of the most exciting things to watch,” Alias said, “is students learning from technological advances that come from industries in our state.”