If you are a business with plans to grow, you’ve probably met Pat Bannister. Pat has dedicated his public career to business development in the City.
Pat uses a variety of strategies to create jobs here. One of his favorite and most successful efforts involves small business incubators. Incubators offer nascent companies the mentoring, low overhead, and training they need to get started. In partnership with St. Louis County, the City currently operates four incubators.
Next week, Pat and I will join county executive Charlie Dooley to celebrate the expansion of the Midtown Center. Thanks to nearly a quarter million dollars of renovations, the Center — which is nearly always full — will have room for even more new businesses and their inventories.
In the past 11 years, 44 companies have called the Center home.
Of those, 80 percent have grown up and established their own locations. 70 percent of those graduates are still operating as successful businesses today.
I’m very impressed with the 18 businesses that currently call the Center home. They include biotech and information technology firms, security companies, a home health agency, a public relations firm, and environmental consultants.
One of them, Envirohealth Technologies, is a testing partner in our Lead Safe St. Louis initiative. Another company, Dynalabs, is quickly gaining a national reputation for affordable, high-quality pharmaceutical testing services. Another one, DB Gourmet Cookies, is becoming a threat to my diet. And still another tenant, the International Institute’s Business Links program, is helping New Americans who have started or wish to start their own businesses here.
Is one of these young companies the next Build-A-Bear or Google? I hope so.