The fiscally-sound policies and job creation strategies of Gov. Jay Nixon's administration were praised by the nation's premier international brokerage and consulting firm, as it again rated Missouri as one of the top U.S. states for business. Missouri came in at number 9 in the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2013, an annual study considered the most comprehensive in the economic development industry. Among other factors, Missouri received "A" grades from Pollina for its corporate tax index, unemployment insurance, and electricity costs. This is the fourth consecutive year that Missouri has been listed in the top ten.
"Once again, Missouri's low taxes, predictable economic environment, and focus on strict fiscal discipline have kept us a top-ten state for businesses to start, locate and expand," Gov. Nixon said. "We will continue to hold the line on taxes while making strategic investments in Missouri's future to create jobs and keep our state moving forward."
"Gov. Jay Nixon has shown a no-nonsense approach for job creation and the tax revenue that results from strong economic development," Pollina Corporate said in its report.
The Pollina study giving Missouri high marks follows other recent reports lauding the state's pro-business environment under Gov. Nixon. In a September 2011 report, the State Auditor recognized that Missouri has the seventh-lowest state taxes as a percentage of personal income. In 2012, the Federation of Tax Administrators ranked Missouri the fifth-lowest in per capita state taxes in the country, representing a lower tax burden than all of our surrounding states. Moreover, a 2012 report by Ernst & Young and the Council on State Taxation ranked Missouri's effective business tax rate as the eighth-lowest in the country.
Pollina's Corporate Top Pro Business States is an annual study of job retention and creation efforts by the 50 states. It examines more than 30 factors relative to state efforts to create business-friendly environments, including taxes, human resources, energy costs, infrastructure spending, economic incentive programs and state economic development efforts.
Under Gov. Nixon's leadership, the state of Missouri has maintained its spotless Triple-A credit rating while continuing to invest in critical priorities like job training and education. Since 2009, the Governor has worked to help businesses thrive, including cutting the franchise tax on more than 16,000 Missouri businesses and launching a small-business loan program.
In 2010, the Governor called a special session of the General Assembly to pass a bi-partisan Automotive Jobs Act to support tens of thousands of automotive jobs in every corner of Missouri. As a result, in 2011 General Motors announced its plans to invest $380 million and create or retain 1,260 new jobs to produce a new mid-size pickup at its facility in Wentzville. In 2013, General Motors announced additional plans to invest another $133 million in its Wentzville facility with the potential for creating or retaining 55 local jobs.
Also in 2013, Ford announced plans to add a third production shift for the F-150 and hire an additional 900 workers at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, where it has undertaken a $1.1 billion expansion. Additionally, 26 Missouri automotive supply companies have made expansion announcements in 2013, representing $1.7 billion in investments and 4,958 new jobs.
As a result of these efforts and many more, Missouri's unemployment rate has been below the national average for 45 consecutive months. Already in 2013, global brands like Monsanto, Express Scripts and Boeing have announced major expansions with plans to create thousands of jobs throughout Missouri.
State exports are also up. In both 2011 and 2012, Missouri companies set record export sales, totaling $28 billion worth of Missouri-made goods being sold around the world.
To continue this progress, the Governor recently signed legislation implementing Missouri Works, a comprehensive strategy to support economic growth and create career opportunities for Missourians.
Missouri Works consolidates Missouri's four existing business development incentives into a single, business-friendly program with a uniform set of definitions and a streamlined application process to cut through red tape. The Governor called for streamlining Missouri's economic incentive programs in his 2013 State of the State Address earlier this year. Missouri Works also improves on existing programs by enabling more small businesses and businesses in rural areas to participate and providing targeted benefits to existing Missouri businesses.
Missouri Works also consolidates Missouri's workforce training programs into a single, business friendly program that is more closely aligned with the State's other economic development programs. It also targets workforce development resources more efficiently toward job placement and training for job-seekers.
Missouri Works implements recommendations of the Governor's Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth, an effort that engaged 600 business, education and labor leaders from across Missouri to develop a comprehensive strategy to transform the state's economy. The Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission also recommended improving Missouri's existing economic development incentives by consolidating them into a single, business-friendly program designed to create jobs and encourage capital investment, while maintaining a positive return on investment.