Partnerships are the secret to success. That’s why Missouri Partnership works so hard to understand the needs of businesses and help them grow in the state.
Since it was founded in 2007, the public-private organization has been focused on attracting new jobs and investments to the state, creating more than 26,000 jobs — representing more than $1.3 billion in new annual payroll, and more than $3 billion in capital investment.
We recently caught up with Subash Alias, who has been with Missouri Partnership for more than a decade. In the following interview, he discusses Missouri’s approach to navigating the pandemic and spurring continued momentum for the state’s businesses.
As companies consider North American locations, what would you like them to understand about Missouri’s business climate?
Subash Alias: First off, Missouri has a very business-friendly regulatory environment, with long-term fiscal stability and highly competitive tax rates. Missouri has enjoyed a AAA bond rating for over 50 years. Earlier this year, the Tax Foundation ranked Missouri as the 10th best location for a new firm to establish their next facility and the fourth-best location if you are a labor-intensive manufacturing facility. Missouri also prides itself on ensuring companies have the support they need to be successful through training, talent pipeline development, flexible incentives that can grow with a company, as well as a strong statewide support structure at the state, regional and local levels. And Missouri communities welcome new companies with open arms and are enthusiastic and supportive when a new business opens in their city.
Missouri is celebrating its Bicentennial this year. In your opinion, what is Missouri’s strongest selling point?
Alias: I think our strongest selling point is the incredibly innovative work we do in Missouri and the list of signature household name companies that are headquartered here or are doing innovative work here. For example, the innovative tech through Cerner, Centene, and World Wide Technology and our agtech R&D and production prowess with companies like Bayer Crop Sciences, Boehringer Ingelheim, BASF and DuPont. Boeing’s defense, space and security division has 16,000 team members in Missouri, designing and building the world’s most advanced aircraft here. Financial services and FinTech work in Missouri is being led by Square, Wells Fargo Advisors, and Stifel and we are proud of our many other corporate headquarters such as Edward Jones, Emerson, Hallmark, Bass Pro Shops, O’Reilly, Leggett & Platt, and H&R Block. I can tell companies every statistic and ranking that makes our state appealing, but at the end of the day, when business executives see the types of leading companies that are thriving in the state, that carries much more weight than anything else. We are home to global leaders and provide a solid foundation to ensure their success in Missouri. If companies require more persuasion, we can always let them try our state’s Missouri Mud ice cream to help make the case. In honor of the state’s Bicentennial, several chocolate shops in Missouri collaborated with Clementine’s Creamery to create a new Missouri Mud flavor. It’s been extremely popular. This is a great example of how the business community in Missouri works together and has pride in the state.
How would you describe Missouri’s approach to navigating the pandemic and the impact it had on your state’s business community?
Alias: Missouri deferred to local governments to make the best decisions for their particular issues and their communities based on what was happening in their part of the state. And then very quickly made sure that every possible resource was available to companies ready to reopen and get back to business.
Today, we are approaching record-low unemployment again and are one of the states that has recovered the quickest. When the pandemic began in March 2020, I was very concerned about how it would impact our business attraction efforts. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of new projects we opened during the pandemic. We even had several major projects announce plans to invest in Missouri during the pandemic. Those projects have played a key role in our state’s economic resurgence.
How does Missouri Partnership work with businesses to help them find the best site for their investment?
Alias: The first step is discovery, where we work to understand the company’s needs and look to find solutions that Missouri can offer them. Then we engage in a concierge service of sorts to look for tailor-made solutions for companies. We work to find the best sites or locations, help identify the talent pipelines they need, liaise with utilities and local leaders, and help determine what local and statewide support would be available in order to win. If it is up to us, we are going to make it really hard to go somewhere else.
What do you most want companies looking to expand to understand about doing business in the Show Me State?
Alias: When a company looks to locate a facility, it is most often a high-impact, high-stakes proposition. We know it is not a decision to be taken lightly. The final location can impact the supply chain, customers, clients, families and careers. Companies will be looking around every corner to mitigate risk. Missouri is one of the most economically diverse states in the country. Our tax structure, regulatory environment, and cost profiles will not contribute to that risk. When companies look to drop hundreds of millions of dollars into the ground, they want a state without surprises. That is what we offer here in Missouri.