Brookings Study Cites STL Ag Science Districts

By on August 1, 2018

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

St. Louis’ focus on ag research and new product investment — as witnessed in STL’s healthy plant science development districts such as 39 North — was one of five regions nationwide featured in a Brookings report released last week. The Brookings report, “Rethinking Cluster Initiatives,” included detailed reports on St. Louis, Central Indiana, Milwaukee, Syracuse, and Upstate South Carolina. (To download the St. Louis report, click here.)

According to Brookings, “Industry clusters—groups of firms that gain a competitive advantage through local proximity and interdependence—offer a compelling framework for local and state leaders to analyze and support their economies. Both theory and academic research suggest that firms and regions benefit from clustering, evidence that has led to widespread adoption of clusters within the economic development field. But there are glaring gaps between the recognition that clusters play an important role in an economy that demands concentration and specialization and the practical ability to develop initiatives that help firms within clusters become more competitive and spur growth.”

Of St. Louis, Brookings said, “Driven by BioSTL, the Danforth Plant Science Center, and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, St. Louis has focused on the agricultural technology cluster to spur dynamism in the region.” Brookings cites St. Louis’ shared leadership in focusing on ag, and its long-game view, now a decade on, as reasons for the success of the efforts.

The study suggests factors and interventions that can help the industry cluster approach to succeed, as well as other approaches toward building critical mass to fuel regional growth.

To read the Brookings report and download other case studies, click here.

About Tom Finan