ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Just as St. Louis starts to turn some heads for its start-up scene, the Regional Chamber is warning that cuts by state lawmakers could stall the progress.
At this point, the ball is really in the court of the legislature. They are talking about different levels of funding and some talk about cutting it all together, some talk about really putting it on a life support level at around $1 million in funding, which we think is not a good idea,” says Andrew Smith, Vice President of Innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber.
Smith says new Gov. Eric Greitens talks a lot about encouraging private sector investment.
“We think that Governor Greitens has a really interesting and valuable perspective on innovation and technology. We think that he is going to put his own stamp on it during his tenure as governor,” he says.
KMOX first reported a month ago on the potential for some cuts, though not of this magnitude. Venture Cafe Global Institute Director Travis Sheridan says while M.T.C. helps fund programs like Arch Grants, it also invests directly in start-ups.
“I think one of the most successful ones that we have seen so far is Benson Hill, which is a biotech company that was attracted to St. Louis from the research triangle in North Carolina, got about $150 maybe $175 thousand worth of investment from Missouri Technology Corporation and I think they’ve just raised another $18 million, so those dollars from Missouri Technology Corporation are very catalytic,” he says.
Also important, venture capital dollars are very limited in Missouri, and many companies leave for the coasts because they can’t find investment here, and the goal is for the state to make a profit.
The Missouri Technology Corporation helps fund several programs, including Arch Grants, and also invests directly in fledgling tech companies in the state, helping them find funding without having to leave for the coasts and the state, it hopes, makes a profit.