Missouri officials say they have unleashed the combined strength of the entire state by proposing to Amazon an innovation corridor that connects St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City. With the state’s support, Kansas City and St. Louis officials have submitted their own bids to Amazon. A state Department of Economic Development spokesperson says state law prohibits the release of specific details about the state’s proposal to Amazon, including any possible incentives.
In a conference call with reporters, Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon says economic development projects are not driven primarily by incentives.
Missouri Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann says the state has provided a transformative proposal that could involve a supersonic and futuristic tube transportation system, such as a Hyperloop. The subway-esque mode of transportation could take people from Kansas City to St. Louis in 31 minutes.
“If you want to live in Columbia and have a college town lifestyle, you’re still imagining the world 10 or 15 years from now, with Hyperloop, you’re still 15 minutes away from a campus that may be in St. Louis or in Kansas City,” says Erdmann.
At stake is the creation of 50,000 new jobs and a $5 billion investment by Amazon that has drawn interest from cities all over the U.S. map. The company is looking for a metropolitan area with one million residents, an international airport, and a business-friendly environment. It estimates HQ2 to have a $38 billion economic impact in whatever city it is based it.
Erdmann says access to a Hyperloop system would help accelerate Amazon’s growth.
“It’s not all about Hyperloop. It is about the broader vision in the next 10, 15, 20 years, being able to look out beyond the assets of today that we believe makes us very competitive and unique. In essence, we would offer the opportunity for a labor force getting close to three million people,” says Erdmann.
Hyperloop is not a done deal. Missouri has been selected as a finalist for the International Hyperloop One competition for a route that includes Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis.
MODOT, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the KC Tech Council, University of Missouri System, and the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia are raising $1.5 million to study whether Missourians could meet the demand to sustain the futuristic technology. A MODOT official says the mode of transportation would be a private venture that would not increase taxes.
The public version of Missouri’s proposal, along with videos of Governor Eric Greitens and Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd are available on the initiative’s website at www.makeMOHQ2home.com