St. Louis looks to grab 700 USDA jobs being moved out of Washington D.C.

ST. LOUIS – It was considered shocking news in Washington D.C. but agriculture entrepreneurs in St. Louis believe it makes perfect sense.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week it wants to move 2 if its agencies out of the nation’s capital.  The agency wants to make the move next year and wants to be closer to agriculture-related industries.

The move could send nearly 700 good-paying jobs to the Midwest.  Many of the jobs pay $100,000 a year or more.  St. Louis area leaders are seeking more information about the USDA’s desires and are getting ready to make a pitch for why the region would be the perfect place for the move.

The USDA is hoping to find a location with a lower cost of living than the Washington D.C. area.

“St. Louis is certainly very different from that when it comes to time of commute, cost of living, and certainly quality of life,” said Sheila Sweeney, CEO of St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.  “It really is the perfect place for them.”

She is hoping to learn from the USDA about its desires before making a formal proposal but believes St. Louis would be the perfect fit.

“We have put so many resources promoting agriculture and agriculture technology in the St. Louis region and that has been a success,” said Sweeney.  “We’re world recognized now for being a leader in the ag field and so I think that also will be very helpful to us in attracting USDA.”

Sweeney was visiting 39 North on Tuesday.  The AgTech innovation district supports entrepreneurs.  It’s part of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center campus in Creve Coeur.

“This is the epicenter for plant sciences Ph.D.’s in the world,” said Sweeney.  “There’s about a thousand in this quadrant at Lindbergh and Olive.”

Sharon Berberich is the CEO of Plastomics.  She was mingling with entrepreneurs at 39 North on Tuesday and believes St. Louis makes sense for the USDA.

“This Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the premier academic institution for plant sciences research and we have a growing community of agriculturally focused startups in the area,” she said.

Berberich added that St. Louis would provide a central location providing easier access for agriculture-related businesses around the country.