Earlier this year, Geospatial World Magazine announced St. Louis’ newest “Innovation District”; namely, the Downtown North Insight District – in the heart of America, in the St. Louis CBD and just blocks from the new US$1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) western headquarters currently under construction -dollars removed. , and the surrounding 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration mixed-use development.
This new St. Louis “Innovation Precinct” joins Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT), fintech, med tech and other technology companies in the “placement” and “revitalization” of the entire northern portion of downtown St. Louis — including North Tucker Blvd , the entire Washington Avenue Tech Corridor and America’s Center Convention Complex.
Founders and civil society entrepreneurs in these economic and entrepreneurial development centers “Collaborate to Competition” are:
- The 720,000-square-foot historic Art Deco Globe Building (formerly one of the city’s two rail terminals), which is becoming a “preferred site” for national GEOINT and other technology companies;
- The adaptively renovated 226,000-square-foot former headquarters of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper as a new home for up to 1,400 Square and CashApp employees; and,
- The non-profit T-Rex innovation, entrepreneurship and people development organization providing affordable flexible pace for approximately 200 entrepreneurial firms and innovation support organizations and home of NGA’s Moonshot Labs Accelerator.
With companies like Maxar, T-Kartor’s US headquarters based in Sweden, Ball Aerospace, General Dynamics, Square, CashApp, Geospatial World and Stereotaxis already established in the new district – along with the national security ecosystem and infrastructure to support GEOINT needs – another national GEOINT high-tech industry leader has announced plans to make St. Louis its home.
Scale AI, the data platform founded by Alexandr Wang in 2016 to help its clients integrate artificial intelligence into their operations, recently announced that it will open its St. Louis office and initially 215 workstations in the Washington Avenue District.
Mark Valentine, Federal Director at Scale AInoted, “The office is located near the Next NGA West campus, as well as T-REX and NGA’s geospatial accelerator, Moonshot Labs.”
Scale also shared its plan to open an office in the nearby Globe Building in the near future. Valentine further noted, “My goal would be to get us to around 500 employees over the next few years.”
Their St. Louis-based staff will work closely with some of Scale’s valued federal customers – including the US Department of Defense’s Joint AI Center, the US Army Research Lab and the US Air Force Research Lab.
US Senator Roy Blunt (Missouri) commented, “As more companies and government agencies begin to harness the power of artificial intelligence, the new Scale AI office will place St. Louis at the center of an exciting and rapidly evolving field,” noting that “the Scale -Announcement St. Louis strengthens position as an emerging technology hub and I look forward to continued growth and economic development in the region.”
Scale is the second high-profile Silicon Valley company to open a hub in St. Louis this year, following the expansion of cybersecurity firm Netskope.
Speaking of St. Louis’ focus on geospatial intelligence and proximity to the new NGA/West headquarters, the Global Institute on Innovation Districts “is actively driving strategies that support regions uniquely positioned to embrace new waves of innovative, inclusive and… Driving Sustainable Growth: Innovation Districts.”
The Global Institute further noted, “Innovation Districts are the ultimate blend of anchor institutions, corporations, startups and facilitators for building ecosystems in hyperlocal regions that leverage density, proximity and accessibility.”
Such hubs of innovation are actively driving a “collaborate to compete” agenda on some of the world’s (and cities’) most complex challenges.
Such “collaborating to compete” is exemplified by the civic partnership between Globe Building owner Steve Stone; Starwood Development partners Jim McKelvey (Square co-founder) and John Berglund; and T-Rex CEO Patty Hagen.
The Global Institute aptly describes the key endeavors driving St. Louis’ Downtown North Insight District when it states, “Innovation neighborhoods that are pulled together by mass transit, powered by clean energy, wired for digital technology, and fueled by caffeine.” ambitious in their efforts to strengthen local and regional competitiveness, create new jobs with living wages, start new businesses and strengthen inclusive growth and equity across the region.”
GEOINT is projected to grow to $1.44 trillion by 2030
The scale of growth in the defense and commercial geospatial intelligence sectors underscores the immense potential for St. Louis and the Downtown North Insight District to become a centerpiece of St. Louis’ development as a global GEOINT hub.
Sanjay Kumar, CEO and Founder of Geospatial World, documented the scale and scope of growth in the sector in the recently released Global Industry Outlook Report, which stated that “The geospatial industry is the next ‘big opportunity’ for technology companies, both as ‘advancing market in itself’ and ‘complementing business processes’ of mainstream IT, engineering and autonomous industries.”
The long-term project, involving multiple public-private partnerships, is the 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration (NSR) mixed-use development, the centerpiece of which is NGA’s new 100-acre headquarters. The fully completed NSR development will include 3 million square feet of office, 2 million square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of advanced manufacturing and technology space and up to 2,500 residential units.
Within, GEOINT Village, directly across from NGA/West’s new 100-acre campus, will include over half a million square feet of office space for GEOINT firms, a hotel, an incubator/accelerator, national security-related infrastructure components, restaurants and shops, parking lots and a central park (as outlined in the attached master plan for the 1,500-acre Mixed Sue development).
St. Louis has identified five broad business and civic initiatives in the GeoFutures plan to realize its potential to become a global geospatial hub:
- expanding talent/manpower development;
- increase innovative ability;
- accelerate entrepreneurship;
- Fostering the development of public-private partnerships in GEOINT-related innovation districts and surrounding neighborhoods; and,
- Brand and position St. Louis as a national and international GEOINT thought leader (and position the St. Louis Hub through initiatives like the new Downtown North Insight District).
St. Louis focuses on geospatial data in four industry sectors – national security; digital/precision farming; Logistics; and healthcare.
So, as construction of the NGA/West HQ progresses for a 2026 opening, keep an eye on St. Louis’ development as a geospatial intelligence hub.