Cortex represents an extraordinary development opportunity for the City of St. Louis and the region as a whole. We are committed to ensuring that the benefits of economic growth, new investment and job creation in the district extend to all segments of our innovation hub. There will be participation opportunities related to construction, permanent jobs, entrepreneurship and education.
As part of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in the City of St. Louis, construction projects within the Cortex district are subject to two City requirements related to diversity and inclusion:
- Mayor’s Executive Order #28 (as amended) sets goals for the inclusion of Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MBEs and WBEs) on development project teams: 25% participation by MBEs and 5% participation by WBEs on contracts and purchases. Compliance is monitored by the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC).
- St. Louis City Ordinance No. 69427 relates to construction workforce diversity. Projects in Cortex valued at $1 million or more are expected to meet the following goals for workforce participation (commonly described as “boots on the ground”) during construction: 25% of labor hours are to be performed by minorities; 5% of labor hours are to be performed by women; 20% of labor hours are to be performed by City residents; and 15% of all hours are to be performed by apprentices enrolled in an approved training program. The order is implemented by the St. Louis Area Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE).
Cortex is fully committed to these goals and supports compliance efforts in the following ways:
- Full compliance on all projects directly contracted by the Cortex organization (such as the development of Cortex Commons and streetscape improvements).
- Incorporation of goals in Parcel Development Agreements between Cortex and developers undertaking projects in the district.
- Close collaboration with developers to share “best practices” for compliance and facilitate communication with our City partners, particularly as projects are getting underway. Project startup is a critical time to put into place the framework for success, and Cortex works with developers to help them understand the requirements and procedures established by the DBE Office, SLDC and SLATE.
- Regular reporting of performance in achieving the goals for all projects in the district. The Cortex board evaluates these reports to identify potential opportunities to improve on future projects.
- Establishment of a Developers Roundtable, a forum for regional developers to share process, programs and outcomes.
Permanent Job Opportunities
In a mature research park, 40% of the jobs are held by employees with high school and associate degrees, 40% with bachelor’s degrees and 20% with master’s and Ph.D.’s, providing a broad continuum of job opportunities for a variety skill sets. CORTEX’ master plan anticipates that up to 13,000 district jobs can be created over the next 20 years, so the potential benefits to the entire community are enormous. New jobs will include researchers, entrepreneurs, technicians, managers, office support, retail, restaurant, and property services – Cortex is a place of opportunity for all.
Supporting Future Innovators
We recognize the need – and opportunity – to build community capacity through coordinated educational, training and entrepreneurial initiatives in collaboration with regional partners. Cortex is dedicated partner working with many other organizations to establish effective programs to grow our base of innovation and success across the region.
As one example: Cortex is actively engaged with the St. Louis Public School District’s new Collegiate Medical and Bioscience High School, a grade 9-12 magnet school that will emphasize a STEM curriculum with special focus on career paths in medical and research professions. The new magnet school offers a career path for students who one day may be an employee or tech business owner within the CORTEX Innovation Community.