By now you may have read or heard about the Popular Mechanics ranking of St. Louis as the best emerging startup city in the US, beating out some notable names like Austin, TX, and Boulder, CO. The article identifies Arch Grants and T-Rex as the two key factors for success of St. Louis. I believe they indeed are. (Disclosure: Downtown STL, Inc. is a proud supporter of both.)
Both of these programs started as a result of an excellent collaboration between government officials, corporate philanthropy, non-profits and private individuals. These are a testament to the commitment that St. Louis places on entrepreneurship and innovation, and have been instrumental in our growing national attention as a hub for Startups.
In recent decades, community leaders throughout the US have been recognizing the role of innovation industries in regional economic growth and development. From Richard Florida’s creative class idea to Paul Romer’s knowledge economy model, economic development theorists and practitioners alike, name innovation as a key urban growth driver.
The onset of the Information Age has further accelerated the rise of innovation economy and its role in high-income job creation. Recent trends of workplace automation, particularly the replacement of low-skill jobs by smart algorithms, provide further incentive to focus on design and technology sector. And therefore, an enhanced focus on STEM education to prepare tomorrow’s workforce is necessary.
Popular Mechanics also points out the resurgent entrepreneurial energy in St. Louis – most evident on the Washington Avenue Innovation Corridor. Creativity and entrepreneurialism, regardless of the industry sector, is what will create next generation of jobs in the region and increase our competitiveness globally.
The growing start-up scene has been a driver of pride and joy for me as well as for a lot of St. Louisans. From world-class research institutions and a rapidly expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem, to an affordable yet high quality of life and diverse outlets for creative expressions, St. Louis has very compelling offerings in the global race for talent. This is best exemplified by our downtown with a wide range of start-ups, incubators, capital sources, and a great talent pool, all within walking or biking distance of each other. And it is only growing. The latest addition to this proud downtown entrepreneurial family is Industrious, a new co-working space on Washington Avenue that further expands diversity of downtown offerings.
With a history that started with entrepreneurs, downtown St. Louis and the city are still uniquely attractive for anyone with a good idea or the initiative to make a difference.
St. Louis is a Startup City. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you ought to.