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January Headlines


I wish you and your family a very happy New Year, and I look forward to 2013 being a great year for all of St. Louis County!

As we usher in the New Year, we are beginning to see signs of growth in our economy, in entrepreneurship and hiring. I believe that we will see new opportunities abound in 2013.

Recent announcements point to the St. Louis region’s resilience. Companies like Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) and World Wide Technology are planning expansions and adding jobs. And we have launched initiatives to welcome new citizens and increase regional partnerships. Developments such as these will drive us forward in 2013, setting the pace for jobs and prosperity.

Charlie A. Dooley

St. Louis County Executive

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Finance jobs surged 85 percent during the peak of the financial crisis. You heard right! Between January 2007 and September 2012, St. Louis saw an 85 percent increase in securities-industry employment, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Thanks in part to lower wages and municipal tax incentives, the St. Louis region has benefitted from a geographical repositioning of the financial services sector. Wells Fargo, Stifel Financial Corp., Edward Jones and Scottrade continue to grow and have been instrumental in establishing the St. Louis region as a major financial activities hub.

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Graematter is a St. Louis-based startup that has developed a simple solution for a complex problem. Its revolutionary product has earned it a U.S. patent as well as seed funding from the Helix Fund. We asked Graematter's CEO Merle Symes about his experience as a local startup:

In your mind, what has changed in St. Louis’ startup culture?
St. Louis is increasingly becoming a model, and other regions are beginning to notice. This is certainly the case in the life sciences area, which is now expanding at a rapid rate. In other areas, such as information technology, it is the result of some diligent efforts to coalesce what had been a fragmented tech community.

As a Helix Fund recipient, what is it like to raise capital in this market?
The economic conditions and the climate of uncertainty continue to make raising capital very difficult despite the fact there are many, very promising opportunities emerging in this area. I would like to add that, in this climate, a fund such as the Helix Fund is crucial to helping new ventures get started and begin to achieve success and establish momentum.

Can you explain what your product does?
Much like a lawyer researches case law to prepare to argue a case in court, regulatory professionals must research historical regulatory information, develop a new product approval strategy and argue their case before the FDA. Graematter’s system integrates information from many sources into a single database. It can save months or even years of FDA product approval time.

What is your favorite part of what you do?
I especially enjoy bringing together talented people and working with them to develop high performance teams that really can make things happen.

Graematter’s technology will undergo testing in 2013 with its commercial launch shortly thereafter.

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World Trade Center St. Louis' Tim Nowak signs an MOU in Shanghai. Also pictured: Retired Sen. Kit Bond, Ricardo Pelaez of the U.S. Consulate General Shanghai, and Chung Tam of the American Society of Transportation & Logistics.

Welcome home! The delegation led by St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and retired United States Senator Kit Bond is back on U.S. soil. The four-city trip (Hangzhou, Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing) included more than a dozen businesses and two universities. It was a productive week. While in China, the team inked two agreements, outlining the commitment to increase both trade and cultural exchanges.

"This trip paves the way for us to expand our global footprint," said County Executive Dooley. "Growing exports from our region is extremely important as we see our economy rebounding."

The delegation visited Nanjing, one of St. Louis’ Sister Cities, where World Trade Center St. Louis and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade signed an agreement to increase trade, investment and people-to-people relationships.

"This trip isn’t focused solely on business partnerships; it’s also about strengthening our cultural ties," said Tim Nowak, executive director of World Trade Center St. Louis.

Hear Sen. Bond and Tim Nowak chat about the mission on St. Louis Public Radio.

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Ready to take your business abroad?

The Chancellor’s Certificate in International Trade combines technical knowledge with the skills to successfully maneuver real situations. Explore ways to successfully conduct business in the competitive global marketplace, while earning a certificate in international trade.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis Office of International Studies and Programs, in partnership with World Trade Center St. Louis, introduces the first online Chancellor’s Certificate in International Trade, beginning March 4, 2013. Each of the six, two-week courses is offered online, allowing participants to learn at their own pace and at a time and place that works best for them.

"World Trade Center St. Louis has offered international trade courses in a classroom setting before, but this online program is more convenient, more comprehensive and more affordable than what you’ll find in the marketplace," said Dennis Wilmsmeyer, the organization’s board president. "We’ve partnered with UMSL to bring the program online, offering the flexibility and convenience busy professionals and students need, while teaching the skills needed to take their business abroad."

For more information, including course descriptions, instructor bios and the benefits of online learning, visit or call 314.615.8141.

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