Spanning parts of Missouri, and Illinois, the St. Louis Metropolitan area has a very strong and diverse economy. It is home to twenty Fortune 1000 company headquarters, ten of which are in the Fortune 500. The largest company headquartered in St. Louis is Emerson Electric, and the most famous is probably Anheuser-Busch.
In its 2006 list of "Best Cities for Doing Business" in the United States, Inc. magazine ranked the St. Louis metropolitan area forty-ninth in the large cities category. The criteria used in the compiling the list emphasizes regional growth. St Louis also fared well in on Forbes magazine's 2004 list of "Best Places for Business". Forbes ranked St. Louis sixty-fifth out of 150 metropolitan areas. Factors taken into consideration in the Forbes list include cost of labor, energy, taxes, and office space. Expansion Management magazine also named the St. Louis area as a "5-Star Business Opportunity Metro". St. Louis achieved this by ranking in the top 20 percent of metropolitan areas in the United States in areas such as "legislative influences on the business climate, transportation and logistics infrastructure, quality of life, public education, and other areas important to corporate site selectors."
The St. Louis area has a diverse and well educated work force, driven by the over 25 institutions of higher learning in the metropolitan area.
The St. Louis Metropolitan area has a broad economy with the largest number of jobs in the service and retail industry. Major industries in the greater St. Louis area include plant and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, information technology, transportation and distribution, and financial services. Because of its central location and excellent transportation infrastructure, St. Louis is a major national center of wholesale trade.
The manufacturing sector, while declining, is still major force in the St. Louis area economy. It provides nearly 20% of the area's aggregate wage and salary income. The St. Louis area has many automobile manufacturing facilities. There are two DaimlerChrysler plants in Fenton, a General Motors plant in Wentzville, and a Ford Motor Company plant in Hazelwood. Boeing (formerly McDonnell-Douglas) manufactures the F/A-18 Super Hornet and JDAM smart bombs in St. Louis. St. Louis is the headquarters for Boeing's twenty-seven billion dollar Integrated Defense Systems division, and Boeing's Phantom Works research and development operation.
St. Louis is also a major shipping port. The Port St. Louis is the third largest inland port in the United States, and one of the twenty-five largest ports in the entire country. Is is the northernmost point on the Mississippi River that normally remains ice-free and open throughout the year. It is also the southernmost point that provides lock-free navigation to the Gulf of Mexico.
For the business traveler, the St. Louis area is served by the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL), which is located in northwest St. Louis County. Lambert is one of the twenty-five busiest airports in North America for both aircraft operations and passenger volume.
Some notable companies in the St. Louis metropolitan area include:
- A.G. Edwards
- Arch Coal
- Brown Shoe
- Charter Communications
- Emerson Electric
- Energizer Holdings
- Express Scripts
- Furniture Brands Intl.
- Graybar Electric
- Laclede Group
- Maverick Tube
- Peabody Energy
- Ralcorp Holdings
Major business organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area include:
- The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Bureau
- The St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA)
The St. Louis Business Journal, St. Louis Commerce Magazine, St. Louis Small Business Monthly and the "Business Section" of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are all excellent sources of information on business in the St. Louis metropolitan area.