Economy & Business

There are just over 9,000 business establishments in North St. Louis County with a total annual payroll of $6.9 billion. While the majority of these (85 percent) are small businesses of 20 or fewer employees, there are 36 large firms of 500 or more employees (14 of those large firms have 1,000 or more employees).

As shown in Table 1, the economic structure of North St. Louis County is highly diversified with firms in all industrial sectors. While diversified, there are notable concentrations of firms in the healthcare and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing sectors.

While North St. Louis County has a vibrant and successful business community, there is room for expansion and new development. There is more than 2 million square feet of distribution/warehouse space available, approximately 350,000 square feet of office space, 260,000 square feet of flex space, and just over 225,000 square feet of retail space. North St. Louis County also has land in business parks and scattered sites zoned and ready for new retail and industrial development. For purposes of this report North St. Louis County is the 200-square mile area of St. Louis County north of Page Avenue. There are 126,974 households with more than 350,000 residents in North St. Louis County.

North County is conveniently located with easy access to the region’s business districts in downtown St. Louis and Clayton. It is home to a growing number of information technology, service, health, and science industries as well as St. Louis Lambert International Airport and several higher education institutions. Major area business parks including Aviator, Earth City, Hazelwood Logistics Center, North Park, North Point, Park 370 and Riverport. North St. Louis County is an ideal location for both businesses looking for quality employees and well as residents who want easy access to a plethora of amenities.

North County has seen a growth in its labor force of nearly one hundred thousand workers since 2010. The significant increase in the labor force is indicative of the thriving business sectors in the area and the region more broadly. Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, North St. Louis County’s rate of 13.7 percent remains comparable to the City of St. Louis’ unemployment rate of 12.4 percent. Although both are higher than the unemployment rate of St. Louis County, which stood at 7.4 percent in 2015. North County is working through the effects of the Great Recession, but job growth and
growing industry clusters are a promising indicator of recovery.

St. Louis County has seen a dramatic increase in the total number of business establishments. More broadly, trends in growth in the St. Louis region are favorable to North St. Louis County. It is already
home to several of the major businesses in the key growth industries. The number of health care and social assistance establishments increased by roughly 649 percent since 2009. Scientific, technical, and
professional establishments increased roughly 760 percent in the same time. Currently, one in four workers are employed in these sectors.

The longer-term projections of growth jobs reflect the impact of the growing service industry present in the St. Louis region. Growth jobs are jobs and employment areas that are expected to increase in terms of worker demand. These areas will need workers with expertise in these fields to meet the demand of these services. North St. Louis County is already home to several large businesses in these fields
and the demand for qualified workers will only continue to increase. The skilled workforce in North St. Louis County can accommodate the needs of these promising fields.

While the increase in business establishments for St. Louis County as a whole are positive indicators of growth, North St. Louis County possesses additional attributes that make it an attractive place for business to locate. There is ample industrial, business, and retail space that is conveniently located with access to several major highways and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Many businesses are looking to North St. Louis County as they start or expand their business operations.

In addition to the potential for business growth, North St. Louis County benefits from its central and ideal location, educated workforce, and its transportation routes. North County has more job accessibility than St. Louis County as a whole. Its location makes it a prime setting for access to jobs in the City and other areas in St. Louis and St. Charles County. Job accessibility scores range from one to ten, with one being the least accessible and a score of ten means the most accessible.

Higher accessibility scores mean that there are more opportunities for a variety of jobs in the area. North County fared better than the County taken as a whole. Increased access to jobs is just one of the
reasons North County is a great place to live and work. In comparison, North St. Louis County has a smaller range, with a higher starting point than the County as a whole. North St. Louis County’s starting range of 4.1 is 3 full points higher suggesting that there is more access to jobs in this area. St. Louis County’s starting range in 1.1 suggesting very limited job accessibility. North St. Louis County’s average job accessibility score is nearly two points higher than the County-wide average. This indicates that North St. Louis County has more access to job opportunities given its location and easy access to transportation routes.

There has been a shift in the numbers of workers that reflects the changing growth in industry clusters. Education, health care, and social assistance continues to lead in the number of workers. Retail trade and the combined service industry have surpassed manufacturing in the number of workers currently employed.