Missouri: An In-Depth Look at the Southern States
The Southern states are thriving, thanks to entrepreneurs with innovative high-tech ideas, strong public and private investment, and enthusiastic support from state and local governments.
Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Southern Tech Sites 2007)
Missouri's Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) notes that the Show-Me State is currently targeting eight industry clusters - agribusiness, automotive, energy, finance, information technology, life sciences, defense/homeland security, and transportation/logistics. In addition, small products represent big opportunities. The state ranked number four in the nation for being a leader in nanotechnology venture funding, according to a recent nanotech industry survey.
The energy cluster, driven by the demand for alternative fuel sources like ethanol and biodiesel, employed more than 20,000 Missourians in 2006. Currently, four operating ethanol plants produce approximately 163 million gallons of ethanol annually, and seven additional plants are planned for development; two biodiesel plants are in operation with a capacity of 32 million gallons, with eight additional plants in development.
The agribusiness cluster, with approximately 88,000 Missourians employed in 2006, expects to spur new business as a result of legislation that went into effect in August. House Bill 30 allows for a sales tax exemption for personal property and utilities to be used for agricultural, biotechnology, and plant genomics products.
The automotive cluster involves different types of vehicles, as well as the manufacturing of new and after-market parts. This cluster employed 36,000 in 2006, with the largest automotive employing areas located in the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas and Greene County. Bill 30 is also expected to impact this sector since it also authorizes a state sales tax exemption for the cost of all utilities, chemicals, machinery, equipment, and materials used in the manufacturing, processing, compounding, mining, or production of a product and research and development related to manufacturing.
The finance sector - including banking, investment and financing, insurance, and tax preparations - employed approximately 132,000 people statewide in 2006. Senate Bill 215, signed by Governor Matt Blunt in July, is estimated to augment revenue by as much as $10 million over the next three years by allowing the formation of captive insurance companies in the state.