NGA Jumping Into the Cortex Innovation Community With Both Feet


In a speech in Orlando, Florida earlier this week, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo once again singled out the Cortex Innovation Community as a key reason the new NGA West will be in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri.

“We’re jumping in with both feet into the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis,” Cardillo said while referring to the area as “a growing new hub of tech development.”

Previously, Cardillo had stated the NGA chose to build and expand its headquarters in St. Louis because of the unique combination of “innovation, place making and diversity” and the fact that the area is becoming a “St. Louis mega innovation district of tomorrow.”

“Studies point to a desire by today’s millennials to be in urban environments, and this trend is expected to continue,” Cardillo said. “Other studies indicate that up-and-coming professionals want to live closer to work and prefer the ammenities offered in an urban environment.”

Jim McKelvey, who founded Square with Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, said that NGA’s choice of St. Louis is the “best of both worlds” since they will be in an urban center where their people, when they are off work, will be in a real and vibrant city.


Earlier this year, Square opened up its second largest office in the world in the Cortex Innovation Community.

Dick Fleming, chairman and CEO of Community Development Ventures wrote that Cardillo clearly accepts the message that St. Louis is “the best place for NGA to retain and attract talent.”

Prior to the NGA’s decision to stay and invest in St. Louis, government, clergy and business leaders collaborated on a video to help the NGA decide to stay in Missouri.


The $1.75 billion NGA investment on a 100-acre site is part of the 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration District that includes office, retail, healthcare and hotel construction. 

When completed, the District will be home to 3 million square feet of commercial office space, 2 million square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of tech space and 3,000 market rate residential unites – all directly adjacent to downtown St. Louis, the Cortex Innovation Community and the Grand Center Arts District.