St. Louis Regional Chamber looks full speed ahead
St. Louis, Missouri’s newest venture sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. The city is vying to become the first in the world to host a hyperloop—a proposed mode of high-speed transportation, in which passengers travel in pods that levitate magnetically in systems of airless tubes.
It’s doing it through the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, a competition in which metro regions from around the world propose prospective routes to house the first-ever hyperloop built by Virgin Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based company looking to commercialize hyperloops as a more efficient mode of transit.
At just over a half-hour, the planned route between St. Louis and Kansas City would shave roughly three-and-a-half hours off the current commute by car between the two major population centers.
“If we can link St. Louis and Kansas City into a single megaregion, we would have more than 5 million people in that workforce,” said Andrew Smith, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “That would catapult us to the 9th largest economic development region in the country.”
To promote the proposal, the chamber teamed up with the University of Missouri System, the Kansas City Tech Council, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Columbia Innovation Center and others to form the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition. The coalition’s first move was to raise $1.5 million for an engineering feasibility study, which began in February and will run through the end of the summer.
“Right now, we are one of only two regions in the country that are at that stage—the other being Colorado,” said Smith, adding that, “Virgin Hyperloop One is now calling us one of the top three routes under consideration in the world.”
When the study wraps up in August, the coalition will have the benefit of a detailed roadmap, with details on costs, route alignment, regulatory framework and environmental impact. Following that, the focus will shift to onboarding additional partners with the capabilities to build the large-scale project.
“This is mostly a private-sector-led effort, and we’ve been very up-front about the fact that we aren’t using taxpayer money to fund it,” said Smith. “This is going to be more like building an airline or railroad than a public highway. We just have to find the right partners to build, own and operate it.”
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Chambers Among Top ED Groups in the Nation
Chambers of Commerce operate under many different names, and can have very different mission statements. But one thing seems to be true across the board - chambers function to support and improve the business climate and economic vitality of the areas they serve.
So, it comes as no surprise that the work of chambers is consistently highlighted by top Economic Development industry publications. This week, Site Selection Magazine announced its list of Top US Economic Development Groups for 2014 as part of its May issue. Chambers and their affiliated programs made up 6 of the top 10 - and 2 more were honorable mentions.
This year's top groups were selected based on four objective criteria: jobs, capital investment, jobs per capita and investment per capita. Additional subjective criteria such as creativity of ED strategy, scope of project activity and the ability to link the EDO to real results were also considered. Those chambers recognized include:
- Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
- Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Houston Partnership
- Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, part of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development
- Economic Futures of Spartanburg, a program of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce
Join ACCE in congratulating these organizations on receiving recognition for their tireless efforts in support of their communities.
Tags: Economic Developmen