There's a deep hole in the ground in Missouri's far southwest corner. It goes down about as far as most skyscrapers go up. Nestled in the stable limestone, Wal-Mart's highly secure data center is one of many surprises in this busy corner of Missouri.
Tucked between the geographic and population centers of the United States, it's no wonder 50 trucking companies call southwest Missouri home; the largest among them is Contract Freighters, a division of Con-way. Manufacturers in the southwest region find a highly competitive wage rate and a cost of living that's the lowest in the United States (ACCRA 2008 survey). The combination of affordability, Midwest work ethic and ideal location make for a broad mix of industries. Leggett & Platt, the Fortune 500 maker of bedsprings, commercial fixtures and a variety of industrial materials grew up in Carthage and remains headquartered there. General Mills makes frozen dough here in one of the company's most productive facilities.
The astronauts aboard the International Space Station can thank Joplin-based EaglePicher for the nickel-hydrogen batteries that keep their space lab operating. The company has recently released the world's smallest implantable medical battery and is working on improved batteries for electric automobiles.
Missouri Southern State University in Joplin offers over 100 degree programs and study abroad opportunities at England's Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Crowder College in Neosho is unlike most two-year colleges with an emphasis on alternative energy research. Crowder designed a coast-to-coast solar car and has several all-solar houses on its campus. Nearby, the former Fort Crowder is being turned into ready-to-go industrial sites - an invitation for expanding companies to capitalize on the region's surprising assets.
"Here in southwest Missouri the economy is good and the work ethic strong. People are serious about their work and take pride in it. Having lived in nine different parts of the country, I'm finding this my favorite."
Sean Anderson, Plant Manager, General Mills, Joplin
Southwest Missouri Development Alliance
Kevin Welch, Director
320 East 4th Street
Joplin, MO 64801