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Destination Missouri Your Guide to Investing in Missouri



Welcome to Missouri


You could fill the better part of a day trying to build a comprehensive list of the qualities that make Missouri an ideal location to own or operate a business, to raise a family, to build a career, to vacation, to dine, to see championship-level professional and college sports, or—having done all that and more—to retire. “What qualities?” you ask. Let us count the ways: n Affordability. Only three states can claim lower aggregate cost-of-living indices than Missouri, where the value starts with housing but also beats national averages for costs of utilities, transportation, health care, groceries and miscellaneous spending. n Centrality. It’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of Hartville, Mo., but the Wright County burg of 594 souls has a special significance in the nation’s population distribution: It’s dead center in the country by that measure. n Dependability. Especially with the workforce, the engine that drives nearly $300 billion in GDP—22nd among U.S. states. n Economic Diversity. An analysis by ranked Missouri No. 16 in terms of business-sector diversity, with nine sectors that produced more than 4 percent of the total GDP. Professional and business services led the way (13. percent), manufacturing chipped in 12.6 percent, real estate/leasing accounted for 11.4 percent, government enterprises produced 12 percent, and health care, education, and social assistance combined for 10.3 percent. n Hospitality. Missouri is home to one of the nation’s most attractive summer playgrounds, the Lake of the Ozarks. By itself, it has more miles of shoreline (1,150) than Califor nia’s 840-mile coast. But the big lake is just one of a series

that beckons boaters, fishers, campers, and hikers from Iowa to Arkansas, from Kansas to Illinois. Tourism, in fact, is one of the state’s leading industries, fueled in large part by in-state vacationing. All of those are just for starters. Economic opportunity, however, may be the state’s biggest strength. Missouri still retains its commanding position in agriculture, a strength it has held since its settlement in the early 1800s. Today, though, agribusiness is also likely to include high-tech aspects of human, animal and plant sciences, biofuels and sophisticated processing, packaging and distribution for a wide range of customers worldwide. More recently, the explosive growth of the state’s logistics sector—shipping, warehousing, and distribution—has helped further diversify an already-varied business infrastructure. Although Missouri’s position in the center of the nation makes for obvious advantages in truck, rail, and even telecom munications, the state is also reaching out to world markets. In the Kansas City region, new intermodal facilities have come online over the past decade, adding millions of square feet of industrial real estate to the mix. The state has a key role in cross-continental shipping, as well, especially with the merger that created Canadian Pacific Kansas City, the area directly with deep-sea ports in Mexico, offering an economical way to avoid jammed Pacific ports while still providing excellent options for reaching the nation’s intermountain regions and shipping to both coasts. And, as a particular point of pride, Missouri’s assets in support of entrepreneurs take a back seat to no state’s. Missouri has historically been known as the Show-Me State, a double-edged nickname that derives from old fashioned cynicism and the need to see something in person. Today, however, the “show-me” attitude still applies in a thriving state with 6.17 million residents who help put that success on display for the rest of the nation. MISSOURI’S DIGITAL BUSINESS MEDIA

Art Director Traci Faulk | Production @ Digital Editor Will Crow | WCrow @ Researcher John Ward | JWard @ Copy Editor Nancie Boland | Editorial @

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Ingram’s (ISSN #1046-9958) is published monthly by Show-Me Publishing, Inc. at 2049 Wyandotte, Kansas City, Missouri, 64108. Price: $44.95 for one-year, $69.95 for 2 years and $99.95 for 3 years. Back issues are $5 each. Periodical postage paid at Kansas City, Missouri, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please email address changes to JRyan @, fax to 816.474.1111 or mail changes to Ingram’s Magazine at 2049 Wyandotte Kansas City, Missouri, 64108.

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Joe Sweeney | JSweeney @ Editorial Director Dennis Boone | DBoone @ Vice President of Sales Michelle Sweeney | MSweeney @

SHOW-ME PUBLISHING, INC., INGRAM’S 2049 Wyandotte Kansas City, MO 64108 816.842.9994 n

FEATURES 4 Did You Know? Tidbits About the Show-Me State 6 Why Missouri? 8 Missouri: Data Central 10 Manufacturing and Aviation in Missouri 12 I-70 Infrastructure 16 Cost of Living 18 Prime Location 19 Real Estate Values 21 Education and the Workforce 22 Health Care and Community Services BUSINESS CULTURE 25 A Productive Work Force 26 Business Climate and Economic Conditions 27 Leading Industry Sectors Destination MISSOURI REASONS TO CHOOSE 14 Transportation and Infrastructure CONTENTS | 2023 Edition


50 Missourians You Should Know Bankers and builders, CEOs and small- business advocates, rail magnates and researchers—you’ll find all of them, and many more, in our 50 Missourians You Should Know showcase feature for 2023. Hailing from the small towns of the Show-Me State to its biggest cities, these executives and leaders demonstrate what it means to apply Missouri values to their work and life.


LIFESTYLES 29 Quality of Life 30 Hospitality and Tourism 34 Entertainment and Culture 35 Mid-America’s Playground







MISSOURI’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE | August 2021 | August 2022 | August 2023

Destination Missouri Your Guide to Investing in Missouri

Destination Missouri Your Guide to Investing in Missouri

Destination Missouri Your Guide to Investing in Missouri

MISSOURI at 200 C e l e b r a t i n g 2 0 0 Y e a r s 1821-2021

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Nobody Showcases the Show-Me State the Way Ingram’s Does. Nobody. 8/12/21 11:11 PM 2022.08 Cover-NEW.indd 11 8/15/22 11:26 AM 2023.08 Cover-2.indd 11

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For 13 years, Ingram’s Magazine and Show-Me Publishing, Inc. have produced Missouri-themed print and digital editions featuring the key leadership of companies throughout the state, along with comprehensive, updated and data-driven reporting on vital business sectors. We’re on a mission to drive awareness and business growth, investment and job creation throughout Missouri. We do this each year and we’ll do it again in 2024. We invite businesses throughout Missouri as well as state agencies and associations to join this important and timely effort. Ingram’s is a small business and we’re among a few firms or agencies of any size advocating for Missouri at this level. Act now to showcase your organization’s contribution to business success in the Show-Me State. Call 816.842.9994 to find out more about our unique branding, marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

Coming in January:

th Anniversary Special Edition

A special commemorative issue that will look back on how Kansas City’s business infrastructure has evolved since the first publication of Corporate Report (forerunner of Ingram’s), was published in 1974. We’ll cover the people and companies that built this region over the years, take note of the biggest stories in our publication’s history, and look ahead to what the next half century might bring.

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• The oldest surviving business in Missouri is Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants in St. Louis. It began selling greases and oils for wagon trains and steamboats in 1839.

watch the U.S. made the Louisiana Purchase, which included the Missouri we know today.

• The state’s estimated population in 2022 was just shy of 6.22 million.

• Health care is big here; research hospitals and medi- cal centers account for half of the 10 largest employ- ers in the state. A sixth, Washington University in St. Louis, operates its own academic medical campus.

• St. Genevieve, named for the patron saint of Paris, became the first European settlement in Missouri in about 1735. It’s in a county of the same name on the banks of the Mississippi River, about an hour south of present-day St. Louis. • Jefferson City, the state capital, is named for the nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, on whose

• George Washington Carver, the famed scientist, was born into slavery in Missouri, and William Wells Brown of St. Louis, an escaped slave, was America’s first black novelist.



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• Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, brought Hannibal into the nation’s conscious- ness with his tales of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and life on the Mississippi River. • The Santa Fe Trail, extending to New Mexico, helped give rise to Missouri’s biggest city, Kansas City. The Westport-area leg of the trail was connected with the riverbank Town of Kansas after the latter was founded in 1838. • Manufacturing is the biggest goods-producing component of the Missouri economy, accounting for 18 percent of private-sector employment. Services constituted the remaining 82 percent. • Roughly 95,000 farms cover 27.5 million of the state’s 44.2 million acres. Soybeans ($3.97 billion) and corn ($3.47 bil) dominate the production-dollar volume for all crops. • The state is home to 1.95 million beef cattle, but poultry is a very big deal: 318.3 million chickens are raised each year, along with 17 million turkeys. • The Show-Me State had a GDP of $390 billion in 2022.

• The state has no shortage of contributions to the big screen: Actors Kevin Kline, Kathleen Turner, John Goodman, Jon Hamm, Don Johnson, Dick Van Dyke, and Chris Cooper all got their start here. And from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers. • Missouri plays a key role in the national defense posture, as home to B-2 Stealth bombers at Whiteman Air Force Base near Sedalia and the Army’s Fort Leonard Wood near the Ozarks. In St. Louis, Boeing’s defense unit produces F/A-18 and F-15 fighter jets, as well as autonomous vehicles and space/missile systems.

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For more information on how to put the skill and experience of Meara . Welch . Browne to work for your organization, please give us a call at 816.561.1400, email or reference our website

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Missouri’s Business Media


That’s not just an empty question: It’s the gateway to a host of answers that reveal attributes most states could only wish for. From a business and employee cost perspective to outdoor activities to world-class health care to outstanding educational institutions, Missouri has it all. Doubt us? Well, the Show-Me State is about to show you with this year’s Destination Missouri. Just read on. WHY MISSOURI?

Johnny Morris FOUNDER AND CEO, BASS PRO SHOPS In Missouri, and particu larly in the Ozarks, people have a tremendous amount of pride in what they do. In our case, that means taking care of customers. This is the Show-Me State, and I think people have

Darcy Nothnagle DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, META Meta is excited to call Kansas City our new home. It stands out with so much to offer—good ac cess to infrastructure and fiber, a strong pool of talent for both construction and operations, and, more than anything, great community partners. Meta is

pride in showing that they are not afraid to work. The integrity, the honesty, is pretty high here.

committed to being a good neighbor and investing in the long-term vitality of the region for years to come.



CHAIR, HAWTHORN FOUNDATION We think Missouri has a lot to offer from the standpoint of quality jobs, great tourism places like the lake and Branson, and low taxes, so it’s a great place to live. The governor has emphasized, I think rightly so, in the past four years workforce development and

education, you won’t have workforce development. (At Missouri Western,) we provide infrastructure for that to occur and lead to economic prosperity. For

our students, we provide opportunities here for individual career growth and economic development.

infrastructure because any company planning to choose a location needs an educated workforce and an ability to reach their customers. Missouri is centrally located and has a quality workforce that meets all those needs.


It’s certainly a great place to raise a family; from an economic perspective, the cost of living is a little lower than in other states. From a business perspective, what is attrac tive is the work force. Also, the interest we’ve heard from women is with companies that are relocating and are offering a paid family and medical leave policy. Over 90 percent of women, through anonymity, said that paid family and medical leave was essential to having them stay in the work force and retaining their employment with their employer. That’s a key thing for companies that are relocating here.


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Darren Farnan GENERAL MANAGER, UNITED FIBER Missouri, from what I’ve experienced,

is very friendly from a regulatory standpoint, especially on the broad band front. The state broadband office has been fantastic to work with and make sure it gets out to more rural markets. Missouri invests in compa nies like ours that are dedicated to rural areas long-term. So, I think they have done a very good job facilitating that growth.

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Jody Carlson VP-ENGINEERING/BUSINESS DEVELOP MENT, MISSOURI AMERICAN WATER I would say, as one who is invested in infrastructure in the state of Missouri, we want to bring businesses here. There are significantly lower costs in Missouri when you look at the rest of the nation. We have people here that have a good work ethic, as well. The employment rate is good, and we are

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Come for the Quality of Life; Stick Around for the Football From the business climate to the quality of life, from work-force dynamics to top-tier educational and health-care institutions, Missouri has a lot going for it. But it doesn’t stop there: Twice since early 2020, we’ve cheered on the world champions of football, the Kansas City Chiefs. Since 1963, this team transplanted from Texas has inspired Missourians—in Kansas City, across the state and around the world—with on-field achievements in the National Football League. In recent years, that has taken on the outlines of a virtual dynasty, as the Chiefs have become the first team in NFL history to host the AFC championship game five years in a row. In two of those, they fell short of the Super Bowl; the three others produced a 2-1 record against the NFC champion. The Show-Me State has rallied around Kansas City’s team since 2016, when an Owner Who Shall Remain Nameless opted for money over fan loyalty and high-tailed it out of St. Louis, relocating the Rams to Los Angeles. We’re not a bitter lot by nature, but that stunt certainly left a sour aftertaste, given the support that St. Louis had shown for their team over the years. That stunt has made the Chiefs Missouri’s team, something quickly apparent as each season approaches and fans flock by the thousands to St. Joseph, where the team has its preseason training camp at Missouri Western State University. Fan enthusiasm there sets the tone for the coming season’s on-field action and, in the view of many, the world’s best tailgating venue: Arrowhead Stadium.

all looking for employees across the country. Even in north west Missouri, I will say we’ve got a lot of employees here, and we are able to pull them from the rural areas and bring them into the urban areas.


What’s not to like? It’s the heart of the Midwest, and the people here are hard working. We employ 4,100 caregivers in my organization and in many instances, those caregivers’ whole family works for our organization. … The cost of living here is incredibly low; I was honestly surprised when compared to other parts of the country. And we’ve

got the Chiefs. I tell people who want to relocate here to just jump in. Dive in and get involved in the community—there are so many opportunities and great things happening here.

Sam Fiorello PRESIDENT/CEO, CORTEX INNOVATION CENTER, ST. LOUIS (FORMER COO, DANFORTH CENTER) Over the next 35 years, we have to cre ate as much food as we’ve produced in the past 8,000 years of agriculture, with fewer inputs, less water, and fertile soil. It’s a daunting task, and the only way to get there is to excel in plant research that translates into innovat

ing plants, products, services, and technologies. It’s as simple as that. We have to get there, and the way to get there is with places like the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (in St. Louis) and the Animal-Health Corridor that starts in Columbia.


Missouri’s Business Media


Missouri: Data Central Lured by attractive costs of for land and power, a growing tech sector, and a qualified work force, data-center operators have made expansion in and into Missouri a priority. F rom coast to coast, 10 markets ac count for nearly half of the esti mated 2,500 data centers in the

KC Street Car And it already has a head start in supporting global-scale data enterpris es, such as St. Louis-based World Wide Technology (annual revenues: north of $17 billion), and more recently, the ad dition of the National Geospatial-Intel ligence Agency’s $2 billion headquarters coming online in St. Louis. Drilling down a bit on the growth factors, we see that: That, however, might be the tip of a very big digital iceberg: A company official said Meta is evaluating a buildout that could total a staggering $40 billion in land acquisition, construction, and development of a larger data center campus over the next two decades. To put that into perspective, the Cerner Corp.’s south Kansas City Innovations Campus, originally projected to run $4.65 billion when it was announced in 2016, was billed as the largest development in the history of Missouri. Oracle’s acquisition of Cerner last year calls into question whether the full project will be completed as envisioned, but even if it is, it would be dwarfed—eightfold—by the numbers Meta is throwing around. Kansas City, in fact, has been ranked the third-fastest-growing tech market in the U.S. The reasons for the current wave of optimism are many. For one, the state already employs more than 56,600 people in the IT sector, according to fig ures from the Census Bureau, and the broader technology sector accounts for 100,000 jobs. Bisected by the Missouri River and straddling the Mississippi, Missouri sits atop small oceans of water needed to cool those concentrations of servers.

n Energy rates in the state are considerably lower than national aver ages—by 24 percent for Ameren, which generally serves the eastern half of the state. Compare its $13.4 cents per kilo watt hour charge with the 19.3 centers per kwh in New York, or the 19.9 cents per kwh levied in California—when the grid there is operating. Or, near the top of the scale in the lower 48 states, the 21.1-cent rate in Massachusetts. When you consider industry estimates that as much as 70 percent of a data center’s cost is eaten up by power, the calculus tilts quickly in Missouri’s favor. n On the talent site, the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development says more than 338,496 students are currently enrolled in four-year and two-year higher education programs. That allows the state to turn out more than 4,600 engineers every year, from undergraduate to Ph.D. levels. n Missouri really shines when you look at a combination of land prices for these sprawling facilities—and cross-tab that with the population (read: worker availability). According to Landsearch. com, the Show-Me State ranks 18th in average price per acre of land statewide, at slightly more than $12,700 per acre. That ranking precisely matches the state’s order among states by population. Why does this matter? Because of the 17 other states with lower land prices, only one—Tennessee—had more residents. You can build cheaper in Wyoming, but who’s going to run the place? Gov. Mike Parson sums it up best. As he said during the Meta announcement in Kansas City, “The Show-Me State stands out as a rising technology hub due to our strategic location, skilled

U.S., generally clustered in along the Pacific Coast—from Los Angeles to Sili con Valley, Portland and Seattle—to an East Coast stripe running through New York, New Jersey and the nation’s capi tal, then south to Atlanta. Missouri isn’t a part of that con versation—yet. But billions of dollars of data-center development and invest ment are quickly changing the tenor of that conversation, with the Kansas City region, in particular, elevating its status to what industry observers call the “secondary markets.” And the glide path indicates the Show Me State is about to flex some serious muscle in that space. A combination of factors increasingly makes this region top of mind for global IT interests scouting out locations for massive data-server farms. The reasons are easy to under- stand: We have land—lots of it, and underpriced when compared to the coasts; we have a stable, affordable electric supply dominated by two major electric utilities, each of which has a nuclear generating station in its arsenal; and we have a rock-solid telecom infrastructure; and we have the workers able to fill positions quickly. Perhaps the most impressive dev elopment to date in that sphere, measured by the planned capital investment, is the announcement by Facebook parent Meta that it would invest $800 million into a 1 million square-foot hyper-scale data center at the rising Golden Plains Technology Park, a few miles north of Downtown Kansas City.


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The Land Factor State

Per Acre Price


$5,804 $5,817 $7,538 $8,055 $8,104 $8,668 $9,178 $9,794 $9,800 $10,065 $10,135 $10,899 $11,150 $11,262 $11,294 $12,176 $12,723 $12,861 $13,490 $13,966 $14,349 $15,019 $15,251 $15,271 $15,405 $15,891 $16,730 $18,203 $18,684 $19,530 $19,593 $20,151 $21,978 $23,345 $23,358 $24,928 $26,812 $26,981 $27,005 $27,900 $34,011 $35,641 $36,306 $39,390 $64,861 $66,454 $72,078 $73,422 $85,589 $88,712 $17,382

New Mexico



North Dakota

Montana Colorado


West Virginia



Kentucky Nebraska

Oregon Alaska

SPACE TO GROW | The availability of land at strongly competitive prices was one factor in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s decision to relocate its operations to St. Louis, a project that carried a price tag of roughly $2 billion.

Tennessee Missouri Michigan Arkansas Louisiana

Energy, the regional utility Evergy, and locally based design/construction giant Burns & McDonnell. When that one goes online in 2024, it will deliver one of the highest megawatt capacities of a facility in the region. Across the state, the Contegix data center in St. Louis offers 200,000 square feet of operating space, with built-in power and cooling redundancy and a 100 percent uptime guarantee for clients. St. Louis also offers a colocation facility called 365 Data Centers, with year-round connectivity, power, cooling, and secu rity services. A strong selling point: after a decade in operation, the company had a 100 percent uptime record. Assets like those have drawn ma jor corporations like Walmart, Bank of America, and IBM, which have placed mission-critical servers here. State of ficials say that has has produced a mul tiplier effect with other companies add ing operations here. Those attributes were key factors in the federal government’s decision to site the Geospatial project in St. Louis, which is also home to the Ascent STL1 Data Center, with 88,000 square feet of server space on a sprawling 15 acres. More recently, TierPoint rolled out a $20 million data center in Maryland Heights, landing as a tenant one of the region’s biggest IT players, World Wide Technology.

workforce, and prime business climate. This unprecedented investment signals Missouri is open for business and that our state is a prime destination for high-tech leaders and innovators alike.” Other factors at work? Connectivity. Tim Cowden, CEO of Kansas City Area Development Council, says this market is “the most connected region in the U.S. with more than 5.5 million miles of fiber deployed. Even physical security comes into play, as there’s less risk of natural disasters in the state. With those factors in mind, major players in the tech field are making big moves in Missouri. Google is one of them. It has already acquired nearly 350 acres in and around the Kansas City Northland’s Hunt Mid west Business Center. As that process un folded, Port KC authorized up to $25 bil lion—yes, with a “b”—in privately backed Chapter 68 bonds to cover property tax exemptions with a 35-year life span. Hunt Midwest has been a leading driver of growth in this space. Its SubTropolis Technology Center offers the infrastructure needed to operate large scale data-center operations, with ample power supply and redundant systems, diesel generators, and a pair of electrical substations. The site has millions of square feet available for expanded data centers. Construction has also started in the Northland on a project involving Edged

South Dakota Washington

Alabama Wisconsin

Nevada Arizona Virginia



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South Carolina


North Carolina









New Jersey


Rhode Island United States

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Missouri’s Business Media


Manufacturing Muscle Missouri is flexing it, tripling the national average in job growth for that sector in a post-pandemic recovery. N ot far across the state line from the vacation playground of Myrtle Beach, S.C., a fellow by

“The change in manufacturing jobs over the last 12 years has been a real re surgence that not a lot of people were predicting,” Abernathy said in a report prepared for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve seen a manufactur ing renaissance that we think is just go ing to get stronger as we go forward.” “Many people still have an anti quated idea of what manufacturing looks like,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the statewide chamber. “Today’s manufacturing jobs are some of the most high-tech and high-paying. Missouri’s heritage was built on mak ing things, and we are excited to see our state take the lead in bringing these op portunities back.” Not all industry sectors were equal ly slammed by the pandemic, so rates of recovery vary substantially. But the advantages that fell to Missouri, from an employment perspective, came in manufacturing, construction, and finan

cial services. On a more granular level, the strongest recoveries came in Joplin and Springfield, with the Kansas City Columbia-Jefferson City corridor post ing solid gains. St. Louis and St. Joseph, more than two years after the onset of the pandemic, still had the most ground yet to regain. The conditions, Abernathy said in the chamber report, suggest that the state has set itself up for continued mo mentum: “In certain sectors, Missouri seems to have found its footing for fu ture growth,” he said. Leading the way for that growth has been the automotive manufacturing sec tor, which saw workers from Ford and General Motors turning out a combined average of more than 10,000 vehicles a week in 2022—topping 562,000 for the year. This, despite a long, global break in supply chains that halted production on assembly lines because computer chips were in short supply. But it stood to reason that the Mis souri auto plants—and the suppliers who provide key components—would rebound strongly, given that the nation’s two biggest automakers had pumped nearly $4.5 billion into improvements since 2010 at the Ford plant in Clay como and the GM plant in Wentzville. Formula for Growth Missouri’s highly competitive posi

the name of Ted Abernathy is part of a group of policy experts who crunch data and offer their insights to local govern ments and companies about what they discern reading economic tea leaves. Their base in Shallotte, N.C., is more than 900 miles from St. Louis, but even from that vantage point, Abernathy and his cohorts can see something happen ing in Missouri that stands out. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, his group said last year, total manufacturing employment in Missouri had grown 5.7 percent. The rest of the nation? A compara tively puny 1.6 percent. Abernathy’s team at Economic Leadership LLC said Missouri had more than tripled the na tional rebound pace by adding more than 30,000 net new jobs in manufac turing between 2010 and 2022.

KC Street Car

DRIVING EMPLOYMENT | Often cited as be ing one of Ford Motor Co.’s top performers, the Claycomo assembly plant in Kansas City has more than 7,000 workers turning out the popular F-150 pickup truck series, along with Transit vans.

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tion in manufacturing, as we’ve seen elsewhere in this edition, flows from a combination of strategic advantages, including rock-bottom cost of living levels, which hold down payrolls for employers while at the same time giving employees access to a quality of life that simply can’t be found on the coasts. As a result, companies in a wide array of industry sectors have located their operations in Missouri. In addition to motor vehicles, the state is a powerhouse for the production of food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals used by various industries around the world. The labor force is another consideration, drawing on more than 3 million educated workers—from high school graduates to doctoral recipients—out of a working-age population of nearly 3.9 million people. Factors like that drive business decisions that might not seem obvious on the surface. Consider the case of pet-product giant Purina, which in 2021 completed a $250 million expansion of its cat-litter factory in Bloomfield. That city not far from the Missouri Bootheel—a town, really—has a population of just 1,765. But the company saw fit to invest a quarter-billion into a plant upgrade to churn out the No. 1 cat litter brand in the nation, Tidy Cats. As a result, the plant’s workforce was increased by 20 percent. Again: That comes to 450 jobs, making the site a jobs magnet not just in Bloomfield or Stoddard County but across southeast Missouri. Clearly, the folks at Purina are onto something. Missouri Manufacturing Might Vehicle production accounts for far and away the largest component in Missouri’s $14.2 billion export market, but the range of products manufactured here is wide and deep:

Hitting the Afterburners The Spirit of St. Louis was an airplane that gave its namesake city some national notoriety nearly a century ago. For a more enduring reputation in the world of flight, con sider The Spirit of Missouri. The Show-Me State is, after all, a key cog in the wheel of American aviation production, especially since the dawn of the space age. That’s when the state’s aviation capital, St. Louis, was turning out the 20 Mercury capsules that were rocketed beyond the Earth’s atmosphere or into orbit as the nation took its first tentative steps into space. It followed by producing nearly a dozen Gemini spacecraft as the Space Race evolved to meet John F. Kennedy’s challenge of land ing a man on the moon—and returning him safely—by the end of the 1960s. It continues today with major defense programs that form the backbone of a sector that employs more than 16,000 people in the state, turning out Boeing’s F/A-18, EA-18, F-15, and T-7A trainer jets, along with the MQ-25 unmanned refueler. All of that finishing work is done in St. Louis, but the range of aerospace manufacturing com panies—more than 100 of them—is strewn around the state. In many cases, small suppliers for Boeing are key employers in rural communities of the state. The impact of aviation-related production reaches even further into the state’s economy with aerospace-engineering programs at Washington University and Saint Louis Univer sity in the Gateway City, at the University of Missouri in Co lumbia, at Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla, and at Southeast Missouri State University in Rolla, where a combined 10 aerospace engineering programs offer degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Related programs at more than three dozen other uni versities and technical schools issue aviation- or defense related degrees and certificates, covering every aspect of manufacturing, from precision production to aeronautics specific supply chain management. All of those factors have been at play in decisions by the Department of Defense to invest $18.2 billion a year into the state, with those dollars impacting more than 25,000 businesses. The net result? Aerospace production that ac counts for one of the biggest elements in the state’s $13.2 billion worth of annual manufacturing output.


$2.68 billion $1.54 billion $1.16 billion $1.16 billion $1.01 billion

Nuclear Reactors/Boilers Organic Chemicals Chemical Products Electrical Machinery Oilseeds/Fruit/Plants Plastics and Derivitives Pharmaceutical Products

$726.61 million $575.91 million $557.06 million $506.03 million $421.18 million $350.58 million $306.79 million $280.79 million $278.2 million $272.04 million $254.6 million $225.69 million $224.09 million $210.19 million $201.07 million $179.88 million $179.35 million $166.74 million $163.08 million

Animal Feed

Medical Devices/Opticals

Grain Products

Aluminum Fabrication

Metal Fabrication

Meat and Meat Products Timber and Derivitives Aerospace Manufacturing Arms and Ammunitions Stone/Plaster/Cement Dairy Products/Eggs/Honey

Copper and Derivitives Miscellaneous Edibles Mineral Fuels and Oils Soap/Waxes/Polish

Hides and Skins


Missouri’s Business Media


The highway money, that is. Missouri is doing just that with its ambitious plan to widen I-70 to at least six lanes across the state’s breadth. Show Me the Money

by Dennis Boone

L ike a steely-eyed riverboat gam bler, Gov. Mike Parson pushed $859 million in chips to the center of the table in early 2023. He was betting that the Missouri Gen eral Assembly would go along with his call to make Interstate 70 a six lane highway between Blue Springs and the St. Louis suburbs. The legislative reply: “We’ll see your $859 million . . . and raise you $2 billion.” With that, the 2023 session in Jefferson City produced the largest single public works project in Show Me State history. Lawmakers signed off on a $2.8 billion package that would add a third lane in each direc tion between the exurbs of St. Louis and Kansas City. For now, the only stretch of that road that features additional lanes runs for just a few miles through Columbia. The scope of the project, in a word, is unprecedented, just as it was nearly 70 years ago, at the dawn of the interstate highway age. Right From the Start Congress approved the first fund ing for a nascent interstate system in 1956, and almost immediately, Mis souri was part of the conversation: The first construction contracts for this new interstate system were awarded in August of that year in Missouri, starting with a portion of I-70 in St. Charles County. That was just weeks after Presi dent Dwight Eisenhower called for the construction of a 41,000-mile

Dovetailing with Miller’s call to action a few years later, the national transportation research non-profit TRIP placed Missouri in the Top 10 nationwide for the number of inter state bridges that were either in poor condition or structurally deficient: One in 20 statewide. Many of the first interstate bridges built had a life expectancy of 50 years; the average age for those in Missouri’s system is bucking up against that threshold at 48 years. And more than half, 56 percent, of the state’s interstate bridges, have exceeded that original life expectancy. Beyond safety and convenience, I-70 is arguably the backbone of interstate commerce in Missouri. The importance of interstate lane miles to the state’s economy is enormous: Those freeways make up just 2 percent of all roadway lane miles in Missouri, but carry 27 percent of vehicle travel statewide, TRIP estimates. That comes to 21.5 million vehicle miles of travel annually. Moreover, the large trucks that carry the majority of freight shipped in the U.S. accounted for 17 percent of all vehicle miles of travel on the state’s highway system before the 2020 pandemic struck. That ranked Missouri No. 9 nationally in that metric. All told, more than $480 bil lion in goods are shipped every year to and from sites in Missouri, and the vast majority of that is done by truck—67 percent.

system of Interstate highways, paid for with fuel taxes on motorists and states picking up 10 percent of the cost. The federal government would pay 90 percent of the initial con struction costs. Missouri wasted no time getting the road graders fired up. On Aug. 13 of that year, the first interstate construction project in the nation began on a part of U.S. 40 that would be redesignated Interstate 70 in St. Charles County. The $1.87 million project—about $20.9 million in 2023 dollars—included 3.1 miles of bridging, grading, and concrete paving. Flash forward nearly 70 years later, and the money authorized by the state in 2023 isn’t coming a moment too soon. Steve Miller, the former chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, rang the alarm bell on I-70’s condi tion back in 2015. The interstate, he wrote, “has become a huge liability. Its origi nal pavement is shot, held together by years and years of overlays. The original pavement and base—some of which dates back to sections of old U.S. Route 40 that was built in the 1920s—have been pounded to bits by years of mounting traffic, heavier loads, and increased tire pressures. Its bridges are nearing the end of their useful lives. It carries far more traffic than it was designed to. Con gestion is mounting. The increas ing mix of long-haul trucks with cars makes people nervous and con cerned for their safety.”


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Among other findings by TRIP: n Completion of the nation’s in terstate system—including the 260 miles of I-70 in Missouri that ac count for nearly 12 percent of that roadway’s 2,172 miles—lowered the cost of moving freight from 16 per cent of U.S. GDP to 8 percent in 2018. n U.S. counties within 20 miles of an interstate grow much faster than others outside those corridors: By 2060, it’s estimated, they will grow roughly seven times the outsid ers—36 percent, vs. 5 percent). n Travel times between destina tions throughout the U.S. have been sharply reduced. That, TRIP says, has given Americans greater choices about where they live, work, shop and spend their leisure time. A final point worth noting, according to St. Louis Regional Freight- way, is that carriers on I-70 haul 100 million tons of freight each year, valued at $154 billion. Roughly 30 million tons of that is just passing through Missouri, as is the majority of valuation, nearly $93 billion.

same time delays they face on four lane infrastructures. Which begs the question: If Missouri is going to grow, wouldn’t inaction further exacerbate the challenges it has with traffic flows today? The answer to that question lies 500 miles to the northeast: Any one who has witnessed the “flow” of traffic in and around Chicago knows the opportunity cost of freight sig nificantly delayed by unending traf fic jams. Just as anyone who has taken I-70 east from Blue Springs or west from Wentzville knows that the next 188 miles of high-speed travel will require additional diligence behind the wheel, navigating an endless stream of 18-wheelers and construc tion delays before reaching the relief of six lanes of pavement, or more, on the approaches to Kansas City and St. Louis. For them, 2031 can’t come soon enough: That’s the earliest projected completion date for a six-lane I-70, assuming actual construction, as projected, begins in 2024.

More than simply connecting the state’s two major centers of com merce—Kansas City on the west and St. Louis on the east—I-70 provides links to a number of vital commer cial corridors serving other parts of the state and, eventually, other states throughout the Midwest. Among them are I-35 in Kansas City, dubbed the nation’s Super highway linking Mexico to the Great Lakes and Canada; I-49 from Kansas City south to the Gulf region in Loui siana; and just across the Mississippi River from Saint Louis, I-55 to Chica go, Memphis, and New Orleans, and I-64 to Nashville and connections to the southeastern United States. Making a Difference Numerous studies have suggest ed that simply adding a lane to long stretches of interstates will provide short-term relief from traffic conges tion. But increased economic activ ity spurred by access to a six-lane highway will eventually increase traffic to the point where motor ists and carriers will experience the

The I-70 Plan

Awarded - $271 million STIP Funded - $236 million General Revenue - $2.8 billion Needed Capacity Improvements Blue Springs to Wentzville

Additional Capacity Improvements Kansas City and St. Louis

Awarded - $709 million STIP Funded - $274 million

St. Louis Suburban

$278 million St. Louis

Kansas City Suburban

Kansas City

Warrenton to Wentzville

Buck O'Neil Bridge $257 million


Blue Springs to Odessa

Western Rural Odessa to Midway

Eastern Rural

20 miles

19 miles

Chain of Rocks $112 million

Route Z to Warrenton

$0 $32 million $216 million


Paseo to I-435 $145 million Blue Ridge Boulevard $6 million


83 miles

Cave Springs to Fairgrounds $62 million

60 miles

$6 million $233 million

Midway to Route Z

I-70/I-64 $77 million I-70/U.S. 67 $46 million

$240 million Rocheport Bridge

$31 million $13 million

13 miles



$796 million

$1.1 billion

$185 million

Environmental near completion 1.1 million jobs depend on I-70

$410 million

Workforce development opportunities I-70 carries 100 million tons of freight


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To the untrained eye, little has chan ged over the past year with the trans portation infrastructure that supports Missouri’s economy. We still have major cross-country interstates in each direc tion. We still have the same number of international airports. The watersheds of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers still hold their natural flows. But much has changed with the fun damentals of moving goods and with the process of moving people. Start with the goods. The $33 bil lion merger of Canadian Pacific Railroad and Kansas City Southern Railway, ag reed to in late 2021, was approved earlier this year by the U.S. Surface Transporta tion Board. That was the last hurdle to creating a new rail enterprise. And it’s one that will change freight dynam ics from the sunny coasts of Mexico to chillier climes across Canada and much of what lies in between. Though the combined Canadian Pa cific Kansas City remains the smallest of the six Class 1 railways in the U.S. by revenue, it accounts for a network of ap proximately 20,000 miles, employing close to 20,000 people. While the ink is dry on the contracts and regulatory

approvals, full operational integration of the two systems is expected to take three years to complete. CPKC plans capital investments in new infrastructure of more than $275 million by 2026 to improve the safety and capacity of the core north-south main line between Louisiana and the Up per Midwest, running straight through

pandemic passenger levels. Both of those developments lever age an asset that makes Missouri unique as an ecosystem for business and com merce. That would be its centrality. And secondary to that, the assets that allow companies and individuals to take ad vantage of that centrality. As noted earlier, Missouri has those

Strategically important interstate highways, a thriving system of railroad lines, international airports and even waterways give Missouri businesses multiple means of shipping products statewide and around the world.

Missouri. The company will support the expansion of Amtrak and other passen ger services on its network. The latter is one big potential change in the people-moving process. The other is taking place by air. Two weeks before the rail merger was endorsed, Kansas City took the wraps off its new single terminal international airport. It didn’t take long before the $1.5 billion project had air travel on the threshold of pre

assets in spades: by land, with its ro bust interstate highway systems and rail lines, by air (cargo shipments through two international airports), and by wa terway (the cross-state Missouri River, connecting to the nation’s mightiest riv er, the Mississippi, in St. Louis.) Take a closer look at the highways. Interstate 35 cuts through the northwest corner of the state, tying Kansas City to both Mexico and Canada. Crossing from

GOING BIG | Massive logistics facilities, like the Hunt Midwest Business Center in Kansas City, continue to rise from the plains, transforming Missouri's image in national distribution circles.

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east to west, Interstate 70 links the na tion’s capital with the Mountain West, where it merges into other lines feeding major west-coast cities. Somewhat less traveled but still vi tal to interstate commerce, northbound I-29 originates in Kansas City and makes its way to the Canadian province of Manitoba. Across southwest Missouri, Interstate 44 connects St. Louis to Okla homa and Texas, then the American Southwest. A final piece, Interstate 49, ties Kansas City’s southern reaches to Arkansas and Louisiana on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. In almost all cases, those routes pro vide four-lane, divided-highway connec tions that reduce travel times and fuel consumption and improve safety for truckers and those in passenger vehicles alike. In addition to the makeover of Kan sas City Southern, Missouri continues to leverage the intercontinental rail road system, with all of the other Class I railroads pushing more rail tonnage through Kansas City than any other city on the continent. Across the state, St. Louis stands as the nation’s third-largest rail hub (Chicago is the first in terms of traffic). Again, the five major Class I lines converge there, and it’s a major jumping-off point for cargo to the east ern U.S. The shine has yet to wear off on the new Kansas City International Airport, which combines with Lambert Inter national in St. Louis to give the state ample assets for moving freight by air; KCI shipped 128,000 tons of cargo last year, up more than 25 percent from its pre- pandemic high. Lambert has also soared past pre-pandemic freight levels, up 23.9 percent last year to more than 98,000 tons. In addition to the international airports, Springfield National Airport offers additional options for regional shipments. That brings us to the aquatic assets. The longest river in the U.S., Missouri, al lows for barge traffic to leave Kansas City en route to St. Louis and the Mississippi and, 1,000 miles downriver, to the Gulf of Mexico. Each city has its own port au thority, as well, to help oversee the move ment of such vital products as coal, fertil izer, grain, salt, processed steel products, petroleum coke, and more.

A CROSS-CONTINENT POWERHOUSE | The merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern Railway last year put Missouri at the nexus of North America's most extensive intracontinental rail system.

THE KC AND MISSOURI ADVANTAGE | Centrality allows commerce to flow throughout much of North America, and a robust network of highways, rail systems and waterways support that movement.


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