The strengths that are at the heart of St. Joseph’s business growth are ones that just about every metro area its size would love to have – a hardworking employee base, excellent transportation access and a supportive business climate.
It’s no wonder why the city has enticed many area businesses to expand while also attracting new ones to town in the last several years.
While the city has had some success bringing new businesses to town, “we recognize that the vast majority of economic growth comes from assisting existing businesses to be successful, providing them with incentives to expand, invest and create jobs,” said Brad Lau, vice president of economic development at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.
Notable recent expansions include:
Altec Industries: The company’s St. Joseph plant manufactures aerial booms and equips heavy-duty industrial truck chaises with the booms for the electric utility, telecommunications, contractor, and tree care industries. Altec is currently in the midst an $80 million facility expansion. The main building being constructed is the size of nine football fields. The St. Joseph Economic Development Partnership provided tax abatement through the Missouri Chapter 100 Program and the Enhanced Enterprise Zone to help make the project viable, Lau said.
Boehringer Ingelheim: The second-largest animal health company in the world also received the Chapter 100 incentive for its $22.4 million investment to upgrade its manufacturing infrastructure.
LifeLine Foods: This is a $12 million project with 13 new jobs with an average annual salary of $65,615, as the company expands its headquarters and constructs a second Masa Mill.
BMS Logistics: The company is investing almost $15 million to build a new 350,000-square-foot facility that will be focused on contract packaging, warehousing and distribution in Eastowne Business Park.
Local governmental entities and the Chamber of Commerce form the St. Joseph Economic Development Partnership, which plays a vital role in keeping businesses and industry happy and growing.
“The St. Joseph Economic Development Partnership works closely with companies,” Lau said. “We recognize how important it is to support companies and provide an environment where they can succeed. A company can be a big fish in a small pond in St. Joseph.”
St. Joseph has also attracted companies to the area in the last several years, including:
Daily’s Premium Meats, which opened a $46.5 million, 114,500-square-foot bacon plant that aligns with a nearby Triumph Foods LLC’s plant, and agreed to create an estimated 212 jobs over a three-year period.
Schütz Container Systems, Inc. has invested more than $41 million in new facilities since 2014, and has created an estimated 30 jobs.
Yellow Frog Graphics, which creates custom graphics primarily for large trucks and trailers, built a new state-of-the-art facility in Mitchell Woods Business Park that will add 50 jobs over five years.
St. Joseph has clusters of companies in a few key areas, including food processing, agriculture, animal health and nutrition, and skilled manufacturing, Lau said. Many of those companies have built synergies with each other, as a packaging or container company or food ingredient business might be a primary supplier to a food manufacturer.
“St. Joseph has the third-largest manufacturing GDP in Missouri behind St. Louis and Kansas City,” said Lau, noting that the Kansas City International Airport is just 35 minutes away.
The city of about 78,000 is able to support these businesses in part because of its strong, multi-generational workforce.
“Our labor basin is close to 200,000 because we draw people in from rural communities from Northwest Missouri and parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, as well as Platte County and Kansas City,” Lau said. “A lot of these workers have an agricultural work ethic. We hear that a lot from our companies.”