As we anxiously anticipate the Inauguration of Governor-Elect Eric Greitens on January 9, we felt it fitting to offer a final snapshot of the partnership we have shared with Governor Nixon during his 8 years in office.
At the Hawthorn Annual Meeting on December 2 in St. Louis, Governor Nixon highlighted his last trade mission as governor -- work that would not happen but for Hawthorn's support.
Governor Nixon has been in public service for 30 years. We applaud this true dedication to the state of Missouri and our greater community. Hawthorn Foundation wishes the entire Nixon family the very best in their future endeavors.
Below are Governor Nixon's remarks:
Good afternoon. It’s an honor to speak to this group again for one last time.
During my eight years as Governor, I’ve greatly appreciated the support the Hawthorn Foundation has given, without fail, to strengthening Missouri’s economy, especially through reaching markets far beyond our state borders.
That’s due to the hard work of many people, and I want to specifically recognize and thank your executive director, Margaret Onken. Together, we’ve accomplished some incredible things, and I’ll touch on some of those in a minute.
As many of you know, ten days ago I returned from my last trade mission as Governor. We began in Tel Aviv, where we signed Missouri’s first-ever business co-investment agreement with Israel, a recognized international leader in advanced technology entrepreneurship.
This agreement establishes a framework to focus on joint research projects by Missouri and Israeli companies in the areas of aerospace/defense … cybersecurity … biotechnology and agricultural technology.
Once implemented, this deal will pair technology companies from Missouri and Israel, with the Missouri Technology Corporation and the Israel Innovation Authority jointly funding the paired companies.
This historic agreement is the result of discussions from back in March, when I led our earlier trade mission to Israel.
While we were there, I also met with the leaders of three Israeli companies that have ties to Missouri, including phosphate producer ICL Performance Products; and two cybersecurity firms selected to be a part of the SixThirty Cyber accelerator, SecBI and Cyber Observer.
Just last December, we opened a foreign trade office in Tel Aviv. And in less than a year, that office has already made over 260 business development contacts in Israel.
This benefits our state – and St. Louis – tremendously, especially when it comes to the areas of agri-technology and plant science.
Our trip also coincided with an international cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv, which provided the opportunity for a series of meetings to explore ways to advance our state cybersecurity efforts with some of the world’s leading firms.
From Tel Aviv, we flew to Germany, and on to the small town of Leverkusen, near Dusseldorf, which is the global headquarters of Bayer AG. There, I met for three and a half hours with Bayer CEO Werner Baumann, along with Liam Condon, who is the leader of Bayer’s Crop Science Division.
This was a very positive meeting. If the Bayer-Monsanto deal is approved, it will be the largest all-cash takeover deal ever. The two businesses are largely complementary.
But it was clear that Baumann, Condon and Bayer leadership recognize the tremendous potential that exists in St. Louis.
They understand that in addition to Monsanto’s global leadership in crop science, St. Louis offers the leading plant science research and start up ecosystem in the world.
First, CEO Baumann reaffirmed the commitment he made to me the day the sale was announced that the combined agricultural business of Bayer and Monsanto will have its global Seeds & Traits and North American commercial headquarters in St. Louis.
Bayer has had a presence in the U.S. for more than a century; they have extensive operations here, including 840 jobs producing some of the world’s leading seed treatments and agricultural chemicals on a 240-acre site in Kansas City, Missouri.
I used this face-to-face meeting to stress the opportunity that exists to consolidate key U.S. research work in St. Louis. There are lots of things that have to play out. But I feel we made a very strong case for Missouri and that Bayer recognizes the opportunities that exist here in St. Louis.
We have continued our discussions since we left Germany, and I look forward to meetings next week when a delegation of top Bayer people will be here in St. Louis.
We then joined a Missouri delegation of business and economic development leaders in the United Arab Emirates.
Last August, we were awarded a $634,000 competitive STEP grant from the S-B-A that was centered on helping Missouri businesses focus their exporting targets in the Middle East.
The UAE is already our 22nd largest trading partner, receiving more than $76 million in Missouri goods and commodities last year.
During that second leg of the trade mission, we met with representatives of leading U-A-E companies, including the Mubadala Group and the Al Ghurair Group.
And we were updated about the strong market for Boeing, which has exported aircraft here for decades, and Ford, whose Missouri-made F-150 pickup and the Transit cargo van are very recent arrivals to the market. The F-150 has turned out to be extremely popular in the U-A-E.
I also had the honor of addressing the American Business Council of Dubai and met with U.S Ambassador to the U-A-E Barbara A. Leaf and officials at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
It was a very productive trade mission, and I greatly appreciate the Hawthorn Foundation for its support in making it happen.
We undertook this mission just as news that Missouri exports around the globe stand at an all-time high and as foreign investment continues to create and support thousands of Missouri jobs.
Let me say that again because it bears repeating. Right now, Missouri exports are at an all-time high. In fact:
• Just through September, Missouri’s 2016 exports reached almost $10.6 billion – that’s an increase of more than 6 percent for the same period in 2014… which, by the way, was when Missouri’s annual exports achieved an all-time record of just under $14.2 billion. That was a record then, and we’re already on pace to top it now.
To put that in perspective, when I took office as Governor, back in 2009, we had $9.5 billion in exports. As I leave office as Governor, we have increased that number by more than 50 percent.
We accomplished that through programs like the Export Missouri initiative, which I launched in 2011. Export Missouri has not only allowed us to bring on additional trade staff and open three additional trade offices, it has also helped fund the Global Market Access Program, which allows Missouri companies to exhibit at international trade fairs through a shared marketing cost program.
Also playing a major role was the work of International Trade & Investment Office in our Department of Economic Development. Their achievements have meant Missouri is recognized as a TOP 10 Best Practices State by the US Department of Commerce, and other states have emulated us.
As you know, exports mean jobs. It’s estimated that more than 70,000 Missouri jobs are supported by exports from our state.
And foreign investment in Missouri means jobs, too. Since 2009, companies from around the world have announced plans to embark on 81 new projects or expansions of operations in Missouri, resulting in a total of almost $2.1 billion in announced foreign investments, and the projected creation of more than 5,400 new Missouri jobs.
And I could not have done it without the help of the Hawthorn Foundation. Give yourself a round of applause.
All of this has helped push Missouri’s economy forward – especially right here in St. Louis where we’ve seen some exciting announcements in recent weeks.
On November 15th, Boeing, Missouri’s largest manufacturer, announced that it would add 500 positions at its manufacturing facility in St. Louis over the next four years.
Those 500 jobs are in addition to the 700 jobs that the company previously announced would be generated at the new composites manufacturing facility for the 777X passenger plane.
With that expansion, the company is investing $300 million at the facility, which will produce commercial airplane parts for the first time in St. Louis.
That wasn’t the only significant announcement last month. On November 22nd, Pfizer Inc., one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies, announced a plan to lease a new, state-of-the-art facility in Chesterfield a project that will create more than 80 new jobs.
Pfizer has been in Missouri for more than 13 years and currently employs more than 450 scientists and other professionals in the state, and this announcement is a great addition to that legacy.
It is also a great addition to the remarkable strength of our economy.
And folks, Missouri’s economy is strong.
Right now, Missouri’s unemployment rate has dropped to just 5-point-1 percent.
And in the past twelve months, Missouri gained 50,900 jobs.
That means that right now – across this great state – more than 2-point-8 million Missourians are on the job. That is a state record.
Eight years ago, we inherited a recession and turned it into an all time record for putting Missourians to work … because in Missouri, that’s what we do.
We roll up our sleeves, we tackle the big challenges, and we put points on the board.
And throughout it all, the Hawthorn Foundation has been a big player in our success… just as you have been for more than 30 years, under Governors both Democrat and Republican. And that is why I know you will continue these achievements with Governor-elect Greitens.
I have had the opportunity now to spend a significant amount of time with our next Governor, and I can tell you he is smart, thoughtful and dedicated.
When we first met, I reiterated to him my unwavering commitment to make certain the transition to his administration is accomplished in a seamless and cooperative manner.
I am confident that Gov.-elect Greitens and his team have the same goal as I and my administration have had for the past eight years: to Build a Better Missouri by strengthening the economy, increasing exports and making sure Missouri schools are preparing students to compete and win in a global market place.
Thank you again for all your support over the years, and for what we have achieved together.