Bayer’s recent announcement it’s moving 500 high-paying jobs from Raleigh, N.C., to Creve Coeur is the biggest economic development story so far this year for the St. Louis region.
It’s also good news for Franklin County because of the positive ripple effect on the entire region. Whether we like it or not, our local economy is tied, in no small part, to that of St. Louis’ economy.
And other than the St. Louis Blues’ incredible storybook clinch of their first-ever Stanley Cup, there hasn’t been much uplifting news emanating from St. Louis lately.
It’s a rare occasion when a city can boast of the addition of so many jobs that pay so well – the average annual salary of the new jobs is a whopping $110,000.
The 500 new jobs will come from a combination of relocations and new hires and will “run the gamut” from research and development to marketing and human resources, according to Bayer officials.
Make no bones about it, this is a big deal for our area — indeed the state. In addition to the new jobs, Bayer has pledged to invest $164 million in its St. Louis operations and retain 4,400 jobs.
There was real fear and loathing when it became known that Bayer, a German agricultural giant, was seeking to acquire Monsanto, one of the few remaining Fortune 500 companies headquartered in St. Louis.
The sting of Belgium beer conglomerate Inbev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch in 2008 and the resultant job losses in St. Louis, still lingers.
While it was rumored Bayer would make St. Louis its global headquarters for seeds and traits, as well as its North American Crop Science Commercial headquarters, once the acquisition was complete, there were no guarantees. There never are in these mega international deals.
Gov. Mike Parson deserves credit for getting Bayer’s relocation to St. Louis across the finish line. He traveled to Germany earlier this year to meet with Bayer’s senior leadership to seal the deal. For that matter, so does former Gov. Jay Nixon who made a similar trip in late 2016 to pitch St. Louis to the Germans.
In a deal of this magnitude, the stakes are high. That’s why the state offered $44 million in tax incentives to entice Bayer to make St. Louis its headquarters for these two divisions. That’s on top of the $22 million in state incentives issued to Monsanto since 2008.
No doubt, some will wince at this kind of generous tax subsidy — another sorry example of government “picking winners and losers.” We get it. But this is the reality of modern economic development — you have to pay to compete. If Missouri didn’t sweeten the pot, another state would. That’s just the way the game is played.
Regardless, one thing is clear, Bayer’s announcement solidifies St. Louis, as the global epicenter of plant science and agriculture technology. That bodes well for St. Louis which is good for Franklin County.