This study details the economic and functional impacts of the Cortex Innovation Community within the St. Louis region. Using quantitative input/output (I/O) analytics, the report profiles the economic output and employment impact of business and institutional operations and developments located in Cortex. The results clearly demonstrate that Cortex is a powerful, and growing, economic engine for the region, with 5,780 employees currently working in the Cortex Innovation Community and the economic activity of operations at Cortex generating $2.1 billion in economic output impacts for the St. Louis region in 2018. Cortex is also expanding the regional tax base. I/O analysis shows $69.6 million in total Cortex-related state and local tax revenues for 2018, and $185.4 million in federal taxes (primarily payroll taxes) generated. Over the 30 year life of the Cortex Super TIF, it is projected that over $775 million in TIF revenues will be generated. The report also highlights the multi-faceted pathways by which Cortex stimulates economic and community development and reinforces the development of a robust technology-based economic development ecosystem – an ecosystem that positions the region well for ongoing success in an increasingly competitive global innovation-powered economy. It is also found that Cortex, its development partners and key stakeholder institutions demonstrate a robust commitment to inclusion and social equity – with specific Board policies and a series of programs and initiatives designed to promote inclusion and high-levels of community engagement.
In June 2020, as Drexel is preparing to release this case study on the Cortex Innovation Community, COVID-19 and the subsequent economic downturn pose a significant threat to the resiliency of small businesses across the country and the institutions that serve them. Drexel asked Sam Fiorello (Cortex’s first new CEO in ten years) and Cortex board member Ken Olliff (Saint Louis University’s Vice President of Research) how they believe the pandemic is impacting Cortex and what critical initial steps Cortex is taking to ensure its long-term viability.