The EWG Region has promising assets for competing in the global economy. Yet, it also has persistent challenges. The following include a handful of the tables presented in East-West Gateway’s report, Where We Stand: The Strategic Assessment of the St. Louis Region. Additional information on these and other regional comparisons are available in the full publication at www.ewgateway.org/wws.
These data can help leaders and residents understand where St. Louis stands in comparison to other large metropolitan regions in the United States. The tables are meant to help guide decision-making on how to be more competitive and address the region’s challenges.
St. Louis is home to many innovative institutions, including four research universities, the Danforth Plant Science Center, CORTEX, T-REX, Monsanto, and Boeing. This foundation of innovation is a strong driver of economic growth in the global economy. One indicator of an innovative economy is employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. St. Louis ranks 14th among the 50 largest MSAs with 22 percent of jobs in the region requiring knowledge of STEM.
Freight is another area where there is high potential for economic growth. It is also an area in which St. Louis possesses strong assets and is poised to capture anticipated growth. St. Louis has six class I railroads, four interstates with access in all directions, is the third largest inland port, is served by six interstate natural gas pipelines and has two major commercial/cargo airports. Building on these strengths, the St. Louis Regional Freightway was founded in 2014 and officially launched in 2016 to promote existing freight infrastructure and new freight developments in the region. Among the Freightway’s numerous efforts is a push to replace the 127 year old Merchants Bridge.
Among non-coastal regions, St. Louis is one of the leading MSAs in terms of freight. Ranking 11th among the 50 largest metro areas, the St. Louis MSA shipped over 340 million tons of freight in 2012 at a value of around $261 billion.
Despite incremental improvements, St. Louis continues to have one of the lowest rates of change in employment among the 50 largest metro regions, ranking 41st with a decrease of 0.5 percent from 2007 to 2015. The majority of population and employment growth continues be concentrated in the suburban areas of the region.
The Population Change table shows that St. Louis ranks 44th out of the 50 largest MSAs on population change from 2010 to 2015. The region continues to have slow and steady population growth but is not growing as fast as many of its peer regions.