Kansas City, MO

The Greater Kansas City area is close to the geographical center of the United States. This makes it well located for distribution, manufacturing, warehousing and intermodal transportation. The economy in the Kansas City area is diverse. Major manufacturing employers are Hallmark Cards, Harmon Industries, Inc., and American Italian Pasta, the largest producer of pasta in North America. Federal Express, Wausau Supply, Procter & Gamble, and H&R Block either have or are in the process of relocating significant operations or expanding existing ones in the area. The city is home to the corporate headquarters for DST Systems, automated recordkeeping for the mutual fund industry, Nextel Corp., YRC Worldwide, Hallmark Cards, Russell Stover Candies, H&R Block, and Novastar Financial. “Prosperity at a Crossroads” found that Greater Kansas City was weak in the number of firms engaging in domestic and international trade, the quality of human capital and capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship, three drivers they have identified for regional economic growth. As an example, net exports as a share of its overall economy has declined significantly since 1990. Along with this the percentage of the number of people with a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math is below national averages, and those with these skills are leaving the area for places outside of the Midwest. The economic growth rate for the area is expected to be above national averages. The strongest job growth is expected to be in the services industry followed by construction and real estate. Manufacturing employment is expected to be fairly flat with output gains coming from productivity improvements. Slight employment increases are expected in the transportation and wholesale industries because of large investments being made in new distribution facilities, such as those surrounding the BNSF intermodal center in southwest Johnson County. Increases in automation will allow for substantial increases in freight while employing roughly the same number of people. Growth in construction employment is expected to continue to increase as is the professional, technical and scientific services industry, which accounts for over 25% of the areas employment growth rates. The biggest declining sector is traditional retail. As internet sales account for more of the local spending, traditional retailers will be forced to come up with better and more cost effective methods. The number of retail workers in the Greater Kansas City economy is forecast to decline.

Appleton Greene
St. Louis, MO

St. Louis is home to dozens of companies listed on various stock exchanges in the U.S., with market capitalizations ranging from over $500 thousand to more than $40 billion. Among these public companies, Greater St. Louis is home to 19 Fortune 1000 headquarters, of which 9 are Fortune 500. Greater St. Louis is also home to some of the nation’s largest private companies, several listed among Forbes’ America’s Largest Private Companies such as: 16-Enterprise Holdings; 59-World Wide Technology; 65-Edward Jones; 66-Graybar Electric; 72-Apex Oil; 141-McCarthy Holdings; and at 180-Schnuck Markets. According to data compiled by the St. Louis Business Journal in 2014, St. Louis’s 25 largest international companies had international sales of over $129 billion in 2013. St. Louis companies are also ranked nationally as best places to work, most innovative, and Inc. magazine’s list of America’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies 2015 ranks include 41 companies based in the St. Louis metropolitan area; 20 St. Louis-based firms ranked in the top 2,000: St. Louis is also home to many aerospace and aviation companies including Gateway Jets, Advanced Aerospace Technologies, Aeronavdata, Bickel Air, Ellason Weather Radar, Fregata Systems, GKNAerospace North America, Saberliner Services, Valent Aerostructures, Northrop Grumman Systems, and Summit Air. The State of Missouri is a top 10 state for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness according to a 2015 report by PwC, and it is home to major companies such as GKN Aerospace, LMI Aerospace and PAS Technologies. On the defense side two major facilities of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security including their military aircraft headquarters, numerous logistics contractors supporting the Defense Logistics Agency, and Scott Air Force base is located just across the Mississippi River in Illinois. Access to both coasts, major international and domestic airport access, a highly skilled workforce and attractive tax structures make St Louis a very strong candidate for future growth in virtually all manufacturing and industry sectors. The fuel for this growth will come from a highly trained and motivated work force, heavily dependent on leadership to sustain growth into the future.