The St. Louis economy is demonstrating renewed strength as local GMP is projected to grow 1.7 percent this year. Last year, retail sales outpaced those of the nation, but are expected to slow in 2013 as consumer confidence waivers. Future economic development will be driven primarily by the region's lower costs and supportive environment for businesses.
St. Louis is highly ranked for its logistics infrastructure, bolstered by its central geographic location. The city is situated at the confluence of two of the largest rivers in North America, as well as the smaller Illinois River. Easy access to these major waterways has allowed St. Louis to become the one of the largest inland ports in the nation, with access to many international destinations. In addition, the city is also well connected via its extensive highway and rail transportation corridors.
The local government actively pursues the development of new businesses and provides resources for startups. The region has numerous incubators where fledgling firms can find advice, nurturing, and inexpensive office and lab space, including the Helix Center. Financial resources also are rising; there are now several venture funds covering sciences, IT, plant and life sciences, and other growing sectors.
The limestone and dolomite underlying the St. Louis region are used in construction. The metro is near the geographic center of the United States, within 500 miles from one-third of the U.S. population.
The St. Louis metro encompasses the city of St. Louis; the Missouri counties of St. Charles, Jefferson, Franklin, St. Louis, Lincoln, Warren and Washington; and the Illinois counties of Madison, St. Clair, Macoupin, Clinton, Monroe, Jersey, Bond and Calhoun. The metro has more than 2.8 million residents, with the largest concentration in St. Louis County (1 million).