Missouri has created a business climate that is positively primed for continued growth and the proof is in the pudding. Today, the state boasts one of the best corporate tax rates in the nation and is a desirable location for innovative, growing companies.
A driving force behind this momentum, the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) offers an arsenal of services and programs designed to encourage the state’s business ecosystem and create new opportunities for Missourians. We recently spoke with Missouri DED director Rob Dixon about his efforts to improve the state’s tax climate, remove barriers to business, and invest in workforce development and infrastructure across the state.
This year is Missouri’s bicentennial year. What do you think sets the Show Me State apart from others?
Rob Dixon: Missouri’s a beautiful state that’s excellent for business. A low cost of living, strategic location, and favorable business climate have primed our state for growth. In fact, our corporate tax rate is ranked third best in the nation by the Tax Foundation, and we’re among the top 10 best states for pro-business property and unemployment insurance tax policies. Here in Missouri, we’re committed to creating an environment that helps businesses succeed by addressing challenges and reducing barriers. This commitment to a pro-growth business climate is making a difference for many world-class companies who already call Missouri home.
No doubt, the last year brought some significant challenges across the country. How would you describe Missouri’s response to the pandemic and its overall ability to weather the storm?
Dixon: Right from the beginning, we understood that the health response and the economic recovery were two sides of the same coin. With that mindset, we were able to synchronize efforts among all 16 of Missouri’s executive agencies to help our state recover from both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Because of our ability to coordinate and work quickly, we were able to target assistance to the citizens, communities, and businesses that were hardest hit. Throughout our response to the economic impacts of the pandemic, we stayed focused on the basics: we removed regulatory burdens and other barriers to business operations during a challenging time, and we continued to invest in areas like workforce development and infrastructure. This balanced approached helped Missouri’s economy recover faster and stronger than many other states in the country.
What were some of the most significant announcements of 2020 and so far into 2021?
Dixon: Every expansion in Missouri is great news, and any amount of investment or job creation is something to be celebrated, but there are several announcements that stood out in 2020 and for 2021 so far.
It’s exciting to reflect on some of these announcements, as they show that even during the challenges of 2020, Missouri was still making great strides.
Which industries are seeing the most activity right now and why?
Dixon: We’ve seen employment growth in most sectors over the last several years, but the industries that are experiencing the most activity right now are manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical services. Our manufacturing growth has been particularly strong in electronic component, motor vehicle and aerospace manufacturing. With two auto assembly plants and countless suppliers, Missouri is well-positioned for growth as demand for vehicles remains high. Missouri has also outpaced the nation in computer system design and we’re strong in health care IT and management consulting.
What are some of the main selling points you like to share with businesses as they consider Missouri for their next relocation or expansion investment?
Dixon: First and foremost, this is a state where a business can operate without excessive regulatory burdens, tax liabilities, and other high costs like you will find in many other states. We are stable and low-risk, and we continue to deliver on our commitments. Just as important though, we provide additional value by addressing the issues that matter most to businesses, through continued investments in our talent pipeline and our state’s infrastructure. Put your finger on the map where the nation’s highways, rails and rivers intersect, and you are touching the center of North America – Missouri. This puts your products within a day’s drive of just about anywhere. We have a wide array of incentive programs that help address your bottom line issues, and we have flexible and nimble workforce incentive programs to help you recruit and train your team. The bottom line is that businesses are growing and succeeding in Missouri, and it’s because we focus on the basics. We’d appreciate the opportunity to prove ourselves to your clients.
What do you most want companies to understand about your organization and the assistance you can offer?
Dixon: Our team is here to assist with any issue you might have, even if it is beyond the purview of the economic development department. We hope you use us to connect you with resources across state government and the state. Our economic development tools provide benefits that address your key issues, and we try to be flexible to meet your changing needs. In addition to the resources themselves, we are always seeking to improve the compliance and administrative process to make it easy to do business with us. Like you, our job doesn’t stop after the groundbreaking ceremony, and we are here to be a partner for the long term.