Economy of St. Louis

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St. Louis punches above its weight as a center for corporate headquarters. Beer commercials have made the city well known as the home of Anheuser-Busch Breweries. Edward Jones, as well as online brokerage Scottrade, have grown into dominant players on America's financial landscape. It is also the site for the headquarters of Energizer, the battery company. Neighboring suburbs host Monsanto, formerly a chemical company and now a leader in genetically modified crops, and Solutia, the former Monsanto chemical division that was spun off as a separate company in 1997. Express Scripts, a pharmaceutical benefits management firm, has its corporate headquarters in the suburbs of St. Louis and recently announced plans to construct its new headquarters near the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Hardee's corporate headquarters lies in the metro area. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is headquartered in Clayton. Emerson Electric is headquartered in the north side of St. Louis. Charter Communications, the nation's fourth largest broadband communications company, is headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country.

In recent years, however, several longtime corporate pillars have left the area. St. Louis was the corporate headquarters of McDonnell-Douglas prior to its 1997 merger with Boeing. Upon the merger, the area became the headquarters for Boeing's $27 billion-per-year Integrated Defense Systems division and its company-wide Phantom Works R&D operation. However, when Boeing relocated its corporate headquarters from Seattle, Washington in 2001, it moved to Chicago, Illinois — St. Louis was not one of the final candidates.

From 1994 until its acquisition in 2000 by Tyco International, another chemical company, Mallinckrodt Chemical Co., was headquartered in St. Louis County. Many of the former Mallinckrodt facilities are still in operation by Tyco in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood.

St. Louis was the corporate headquarters for animal feed and human-food maker Ralston Purina. After divesting all of its businesses except the pet food division, Nestle S.A., the world's largest food company acquired it in 2001. Several of the divested business still remain in St. Louis including Energizer, Ralcorp and Protein Technologies, Inc. n/k/a Solae. Trans World Airlines (acquired by American Airlines, which then dismantled TWA's St. Louis hub), telecommunications company SBC (moved to San Antonio, Texas), and military contractor General Dynamics (moved to Washington, D.C.). All major St. Louis banks have been purchased by out-of-town banks. The city retains the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.

St. Louis remains home to railway car plants; two DaimlerChrysler plants in the nearby suburb of Fenton, where minivans and pickup trucks are built; a General Motors plant in suburban Wentzville; and a Ford Motor Company plant in Hazelwood, where SUVs are built.

The region has built up a formidable health care industry. This is dominated by BJC HealthCare, which operates Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital, plus eleven others. BJC benefits from a symbiotic relationship with Washington University' School of Medicine, which is a major center of medical research. Other major players include SSM Health Care, St. John's Mercy, and the Tenet Healthcare Corporation chain. In addition there is Saint Louis University School of Medicine which is a leader in several areas of medical research and works with hospitals including Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital and Saint Louis University Hospital. St. Louis is also home to two companies that produce radiation therapy planning software, CMS, Inc. and Multidata Systems International.

Although local housing costs have risen in recent years, they are still significantly below the national average, and are a revelation to new arrivals from the coasts. From the mid-1990s onward, the City of St. Louis itself has seen a major surge in housing rehabilitation as well as new construction on cleared sites. As a rule, other costs of living also are at or below the national average. Wages tend to reflect these facts, likewise being at or slightly below the average.


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