As I mentioned in my recent article “Manufacturing Growth: Missouri Got It Right,” Missouri is currently experiencing a huge surge in the manufacturing sector.
I discussed the resurgence with Ms. Amy Susan, the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Missouri Department of Economic Development. She shared some valuable insight into Missouri’s recent attraction of two major transportation and logistics corporations, XPO Logistics and TQL, and Missouri’s strengths for attracting expansions and investments.
I expected that Ms. Susan would discuss the part that improved business incentives play in attracting companies to expand in one state or another. However, Susan shared the revelation, “While business incentives are important, they are almost icing on top of the cake. More importantly, we value our workforce.”
Susan revealed, “Missouri’s number one best economic development tool hands down is our workforce. Here in Missouri, we have more than 6 million people, and about half of them make up the state’s workforce, which is actually larger than the entire population of twenty other states.”
Quantity is important, but a quality workforce is perhaps even more important. Susan noted, “We have a huge workforce that is not only robust, but also highly skilled. The hourly wage in Missouri is lower than in most other states, so it gives employers a competitive advantage and value that is difficult to match. We also have world-renowned research and educational institutions that turn out talent.”
It isn’t just the workforce in the plant that matters. Susan stressed that the workforce involved in Missouri’s vast and historically strong transportation system is vital. She says, “We have a lot of people employed and on the ground making sure that these goods manufactured or going through Missouri get to their customers quickly.”
Missouri’s strength in transportation is not only due to the number of people working in the industry, however. The various methods of transportation available make Missouri’s transportation system one of the strongest in the country.
Susan pointed out, “Missouri has the sixth largest road and highway system so [companies] can get their goods to their customers efficiently and quickly. We have more than 100 airports, including two with international service, and three foreign trade zones. We also have over 1,000 miles of water transportation on our rivers, including the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and 17 freight railroads totaling over 4,000 miles. So by train, truck, airplane, or boat, we can get your goods on the map and get them there quickly.”
When expanding your company, location is a key element in the decision. Susan mentioned, “Missouri is centrally located—it is within 600 miles of approximately 53 percent of the population, so you can get anything you are making in the state of Missouri out to someplace across the country in the matter of a few days. That is important because time is money, and these logistics companies realize that.”
Missouri’s location doesn’t just factor into the time and transportation available. It also includes Missouri’s culture, and the high quality of life available that attracts talented workers and major corporations. Susan called out Missouri’s various natural attractions including the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks and cites that Missouri was recently named the “Best Trails State” in the country for its over 1,000 miles of trails. Additionally, Susan said, “Missouri is not only one the third most diverse state in terms of industry, but also in the culture. We have great schools, but we also have great things to do after work. To recruit talent, people need to want to live there and Missouri feels like home.”
Looking to expand your company? Consider Amy Susan’s insight into Missouri’s strengths in workforce, transportation, and location. For more on Missouri’s manufacturing boom, check out “Manufacturing Growth: Missouri Got It Right.”