St. Louis' Inferiority Complex is Driving Innovation: New York Magazine

Categories: Tech

TechShop, which helped Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey build Square, is thinking of moving to the Cortex.
The Arch Grants, an annual grant program that funds entrepreneurs who promise to bring their startups to St. Louis, made major headlines across the city when it announced its 2014 class. The city is even adapting its taxi rules to allow for smartphone-based ride sharing, long the norm in places like New York, although neither Lyft nor Uber is yet allowed to operate in St. Louis.

Central to St. Louis' growing success, according to Roose, is the Cortex district, a neighborhood that describes itself as "a little European, a little New York and totally St. Louis." Cortex developers are making big plans for its future, including $2.1 billion of construction, 4.5 million square feet of new space for offices, research, hotels, retail and more, a new MetroLink station and 13,000 permanent technology-related jobs.

If a modern American city wants to attract more innovation, it needs an anchor site like Cortex that's rich in technology and research, says Roose.

"A good example of how these assets help create an entrepreneurial climate is St. Louis, whose tech corridor is built around St. Louis University, Washington University Medical School, and several other hospitals where, presumably, cutting-edge research is bleeding over into the zone's other tech companies," Roose says.

The data agrees. A new report on "innovation zones" from the Brookings Institution singles out St. Louis and Cambridge as the two cities best exemplifying this kind of growth.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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