An economic comeback on the bity’s north side has received a financial windfall from President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislative triumph.
The St. Louis Tech Triangle is a winner of a $25 million grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge.
A cornerstone of several projects is construction of a 130,000 square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Center (AMICSTL) in the Vandeventer neighborhood in North St. Louis, adjacent to Ranken Technical College.
“Our city cannot succeed, together, if one half is allowed to fail,” Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement.
“Major North St. Louis projects like AMICSTL will create good-paying jobs for families and begin reversing decades of disinvestment in our neighborhoods. [It] will further enhance St. Louis’ strong position as the technology and innovation hub of the Midwest.
St. Louis is included with 21 grant recipients nationwide that topped more than 560 applicants. Jones called the selection “a testament to the commitment and collaboration of all of our partners and demonstrates the progress we can make when we come together as a region.”
Congresswoman Cori Bush called the grant “groundbreaking.”
“This funding is more than just an investment in technology—it is an investment in people. By funding projects in historically disinvested areas of St. Louis, this grant will boost economic pandemic recovery and help rebuild our communities,” she said in a statement.
Greater St. Louis Inc., which filed the application, and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership will co-lead and offer “guidance, governance, execution, and community engagement.”
“One voice with one plan led to a big win for St. Louis,” Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc., said in a statement.
“We can’t say this enough: When the St. Louis metro works together and speaks with one voice, we succeed. Working together as a metro is working, and it is how we will win this next decade for St. Louis.”
AMICSTL will be located within the 400-acre triangle between Ranken Technical College, Cortex, and the National Geospatial Agency.
It will serve as a hub of research, innovation, and start-ups, and is part of the St. Louis Development Corporation’s [SLDC] Equitable Economic Development Strategy Framework.
SLDC Executive Director Neal Richardson called it “a big win.”
“Investments like this reinforce the need to put our Economic Justice Action Plan to work for our community,” he said.
“The AMICSTL was the hub of the proposal and will be newly constructed in the heart of one of the [economically] hardest hit areas of North St. Louis. This grant will go a long way to boost economic pandemic recovery and drive inclusive economic growth and opportunities in St. Louis.”
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the region should recognize and value the importance of the combined effort to win the grant.
“When we all work together – St. Louis County, St. Louis city and the region – it makes a difference for our community. This award recognizes the teamwork, potential, and spirit of St. Louis as we build our collective future,” Page said in a statement.
Rodney Crim, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership president and CEO, said the grant “illustrates the tremendous things that can happen when we bring organizations together on behalf of our community and region.”
While the grant will accelerate its development, a plan for the AMICSTL began in 2015 when the St. Louis Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnership [RAMP] was established by the STL Partnership.
In collaboration with the Department of Defense and the Office of Economic Adjustment, the region’s assets, and opportunities to build a “resilient regional manufacturing economy” were identified.
A goal of creating AMICSTL, which recently received a $5 million grant from the Boeing Company, was established. In addition to the $25 million federal grant, $16.3 million in local matching funds will go toward the effort, bringing the total investment in the metro, to date, to $41.3 million.
“This one-of-a-kind manufacturing epicenter will enable talent development, leading-edge research and development, and prototyping and production capacity that uniquely span and connect multiple high-tech industries in the region – including the aerospace, agriculture tech, automotive, biomedical, construction, energy, geospatial, and logistics sectors,” Dennis Muilenburg, AMICSTL chair said.
St. Louis will now be home to a state-of-the-art facility and expandable campus that will drive diverse and equitable economic growth and elevate St. Louis as a global leader in advanced manufacturing and technological innovation.”
Muilenburg said the project will follow a “hub-and-spokes model,” which will focus on inclusive workforce growth and training, innovation and entrepreneurship, community revitalization.
Joining Greater St Louis, Inc., St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, AMICSTL, and Ranken Technical College as spokes are Rung for Women, Southwestern Illinois College, St. Louis Community College, BioSTL, Harris-Stowe State University, WEPOWER, Small Business Empowerment Center, Cortex Innovation Community, and the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients Innovation Center (APIIC).
Stacy Hollins, Anheuser-Busch School of Business at Harris-Stowe State University, said the HBCU is “honored” to be part of the coalition.
“We plan to use our funding [$2.6 million] to hire personnel who will develop training, services, and resources to foster the growth of emerging entrepreneurs and cultivate the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs from minority and under-resourced communities,” Hollins said.
“More specifically, the grant money will have a high focus on personnel and go towards hiring a director, coordinator, and program guides for the Minority Entrepreneurship Collaborative Center for Advancement [MECCA] and the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”
MECCA provides educational training and services to assist individuals pursuing entrepreneurship, establishes partnerships with local centers for entrepreneurship, provides counseling services to entrepreneurs in developing markets, hosts and sponsors workshops and educational seminars in collaboration with community partners, and assists entrepreneurs in establishing accounting and licensing procedures.
Other partners include the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, East Central College, Economic Development Council of St. Charles County, Entrepreneur Startup Business Development Corporation, Gateway Global American Youth and Business Alliance, Jefferson College, Lewis and Clark Community College, Missouri AFL-CIO, SLPS, St. Charles Community College, St. Clair County, Illinois, St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, St. Louis Makes, and the Technology Entrepreneur Center, Inc.
“We are proud to have been a part of the proposal,” said Southwestern Illinois College President Nick J. Mance.
“With funding from this grant, the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy at SWIC will have the technology to recruit and train the manufacturing workforce of the future.”
The $25 million grant won in the Build Back Better Regional Challenge will be distributed toward several projects designed to grow the advanced manufacturing regional economy, including:
(Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Center & Ranken Tech)
Racial Equity in Innovation and Entrepreneurship $7.5M
(BioSTL, Harris-Stowe, WEPOWER, Small Business Empowerment Center)
Inclusive Cross-Cluster Economic Development $3M
(Greater St. Louis, Inc., and St. Louis Economic Development Partnership)
Preparing Women for Advanced Manufacturing Careers $1M
(Rung for Women)
Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy $2.5M
(Southwestern Illinois College)
Advanced Manufacturing Technology Training Center $3M
(St. Louis Community College)
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Innovation Center $1M