Square Returns to St. Louis In Cortex District

Square, the credit card payment processing system that was founded by St. Louisans Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey and originally headquartered in St. Louis but ultimately relocated to the Bay Area, has opened its newest location at CIC@CET in the Cortex Innovation Community with plans to hire 200.

“Fundamentally, it’s just a great city to build in,” Dorsey told the Post-Dispatch. “There’s a lot of great energy there, and Jim’s business is right around the corner. It’s a really good intersection of the city, close to Washington University and close to downtown. It just felt right to us.”

That “business” owned by McKelvey is the Third Degree Glass Factory on Delmar Boulevard, which once employed Dorsey. And the idea for Square came about when McKelvey couldn’t process a credit card for a sale — noting most people at art fairs didn’t carry enough cash to purchase artwork — and he then worked with Dorsey to found Square in 2009.

Since then, Square has added chip card readers, a point-of-sale system used by retailers and services such as analytics and customer relationship management, and the company now processes about $30 billion in transactions annually.

“We’re honored to welcome Square back to St. Louis as a valued member of the innovation community we continue to build here at Cortex,” said Cortex President Dennis Lower.

In returning to St. Louis, the company noted the deep pool of talent at St. Louis’ universities, research centers and training programs prompted the opening of the office, which will serve as a hub to help it better meet customers’ needs in the Midwest.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the growth in startups and other technology companies in the city in recent years served as a magnet for Square.

“What it shows is we do have a lot of talent here and a lot of brain power that is attractive to businesses,” Slay told the Post. “We have made a conscious decision as a community to build the infrastructure to retain, attract and grow tech companies here and support entrepreneurship. It’s one of our strongest economic drivers.”

The state of Missouri is offering incentives for Square’s expansion. Square is eligible to receive up to $2.5 million through Statewide Works incentives for its expansion in St. Louis and $375,000 through the Missouri Works Training program if it meets job creation and investment criteria, according to a Missouri Department of Economic Development spokeswoman.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was also thrilled about Square’s decision to locate in Cortex.

“Square’s decision to create 200 jobs in St. Louis is a huge win for the region and our state,” Nixon said in a statement. “As a high-tech company with a global reach, Square’s growing presence in St. Louis further strengthens Missouri’s position as a hub for next-generation jobs and innovation.”

*portions of this blog post come from a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Square.