One of the top concepts that British companies need to understand at the beginning of an expansion or market entry process – is that in the U.S. there are 50 states and each state has its own individual economy that “trades” with all the other states and countries around the world. Missouri, for example, has an economy equal to adding up Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Each state is different in taxes, regulations, insurance rules, banking rules, costs of doing business, talent availability, support structure in the communities, and regionally, and in many other ways. Missouri, for example, is separated from Kansas by a street, and from Illinois by a river. But the business environments between them vary significantly.
Tax Rates and Regulations Vary Wildly Across the US
Missouri has a corporate income tax rate of 4 percent, making it the second-lowest rate in the U.S. among states that collect corporate income tax. Other states might not have corporate income tax, while others have much higher rates. But states might also have higher costs in other areas or the infrastructure in place might be great or awful for your business.
Missouri is one of the most economically diverse states in the U.S., with a AAA bond rating for more than 50 years. Beyond agtech, financial services and advanced manufacturing (including building the Boeing F/A-18, F-15, and 776,000 vans and trucks each year), Missouri is a global leader in geospatial analysis, health data solutions and pure human and animal health research, energy storage development, and fintech innovation, to name just a few.
Find Out Which State Has the Strengths Your Company Needs
For example, Missouri has every Class 1 railroad in America coming to it, and the Mississippi River provides ice-free, lock-and-dam-free access to the Gulf of Mexico year-round. Missouri is at the center of America and leads in global industries such as agtech, financial services and advanced manufacturing.
Last year, the state jumped from 23rd most attractive U.S. business climate to 14th, with additional jumps expected this year. But if you’re looking for a state that is going to incentivize solar, then another state might be better unless of course you are looking to develop energy storage. Missouri, thanks to companies like Eagle Picher, is powering the International Space Station and every Mars mission.
Where Can I Find Companies Like Mine Who Are Succeeding?
Everywhere. Across the U.S., there are companies like yours that are successful today. The ones that are in Missouri that you may be familiar with might surprise you. Those with global headquarters here include iconic companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Bass Pro Shops, Centene, Cerner, EaglePicher, Edward Jones, Emerson, Enterprise, H&R Block, Nestle Purina PetCare, Rabo Agrifinance, RGA, Stifel, and Wells Fargo Advisors. Many others have their North American or U.S. headquarters in the state, such as AB Mauri, Bayer Crop Science, Bunge North America, Caparo Group, Hartmann, KWS, and Mallinckrodt.
Other major corporations have extensive operations in Missouri, including Boeing, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bunzl, General Motors, GKN Aerospace, GSK, Ford, Nucor, Square, Unilever and WPP.
But Are There People to Hire?
Every state in the U.S. has great people and great talent. In Missouri, we have a population of more than 6 million, and a workforce of more than 3 million. But you will want to locate in a state where your industry is already strong so that you know there are trained people to hire. Missouri has created new programs to ensure companies’ talent pipelines are full. Every state has the challenge of filling the talent needs of their companies, and Missouri is taking huge steps forward to be the best in the Midwest for talent development and attraction.
The Missouri One Start program is making the state a top contender in workforce development, leveraging a coordinated statewide network of colleges and training centers to design and deliver customized pre-employment screening, employment marketing and job-specific training. Combined with other programs, such as Fast Track and the A+ program that offers free community college across the state, along with work-training programs for released offenders and internationally ranked universities, Missouri is meeting the talent supply demands of innovative companies across the state.
And the state is working to increase its already robust apprenticeship programs, using UK apprenticeship programs as a model.
Get Advice from Those Who Have Gone Before
Amit Kothari, the British CEO of the software company Tallyfy that landed in Missouri, has some advice on, well, advice.
“We would have sought advice from great people in our space earlier,” he said when asked what he would have done differently. “Sometimes knowing what not to do as a product company is very important,” Amit said. “It’s a lesson learned early in our evolution.”
Many times, British companies underestimate the diversity of economies within the U.S. It’s always an important lesson to learn that the U.S. is 50 individual economies with varying policies, regulations, and political environments. Once this mental shift is made, UK companies tend to focus on priority markets and succeed at a much higher rate.
For British companies considering their U.S. expansion or market entry, the Show-Me State of Missouri certainly has a lot to show off.
Written by Mark Sutherland, Missouri Partnership CMO. Originally featured on London Tech Week’s News and Insights as part of their Connecting Global Markets series.