Cortex is a vibrant innovation community serving as an inclusive economic engine for the St. Louis region. We create equitable economic impacts by leveraging high quality facilities, developing a portfolio of programmatic offerings that build knowledge and networks, and convening a collection of strategic partnerships that attract and support emerging and established companies.
Cortex catalyzes economic development in the St. Louis region by building and supporting a community of innovators, creatives and entrepreneurs. We believe that the best innovation happens when people of many communities and cultures can access the opportunity and resources necessary to shape their future. And we know that their resulting ideas, companies, and jobs will power the St. Louis region.
We empower business owners and startups by providing access to the networks, talent, training, capital, and space necessary to grow a company. We focus on supporting high-growth, technology-related ventures in all sectors, but many ideas can find help here.
Cortex is the nonprofit master developer of the Cortex Innovation Community, a 200-acre urban innovation hub. Our staff and Board are committed to creating a community in which everyone has access to office space, capital investment, business education, talent acquisition, mentoring, and networking events. We are building a dynamic, 24/7 neighborhood of restaurants, shops, green spaces, and apartments to complement the tech-related businesses who are making Cortex their home.
When our development plan is complete, we will have created 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use buildings (research, office, clinical, residential, hotel, and retail), as well as a MetroLink light-rail station, a major highway interchange, and a publicly-accessible park, all totaling $2.3 billion of development. We anticipate that 15,000 permanent jobs will be added to the St. Louis region.
Currently, over 415 companies and 5,800 employees are located in the Cortex Innovation Community.
Entrepreneurship is an avenue to empowerment that enables people to find fulfillment in their work, contribute creative solutions to important problems, and build personal and familial wealth. We seek to empower aspiring entrepreneurs by providing access to the capital, networks, training and the space necessary to start and grow a company, particularly in a high-growth, high-tech field. When individuals are supported in the creation of a new business venture, the entire region benefits from not only an empowered and engaged community member but from the commercialization of her new product, the development of new jobs, and the generation of new tax dollars. When individuals cannot access entrepreneurial support mechanisms, or are denied equitable treatment when they seek to access them, the individual, our innovation community, and the region as a whole loses.
However, we recognize that not everyone in St. Louis has been able to access, or feels comfortable in accessing, the opportunities and resources that the Cortex Innovation Community currently hosts, whether it is participating in the physical development of the district, providing district support services, starting a new company, or working for an entrepreneurial venture.
Cortex is committed to fostering an innovation community in which the benefits of new company formation, capital investment, job creation, and wealth generation extend to all. We will continue to work closely with our innovation centers, founding partners, and other entrepreneur support organizations across the region to create and strengthen that community. We recognize that we are part of a larger movement for inclusive economic transformation of the St. Louis region.
Incorporating equity lenses into Cortex decision-making, policies, programs, and partnerships - with a particular focus on race/ethnicity and gender equity and including those reflecting foreign-born/immigrant, ability, cultural background, sexuality, and socioeconomic status/class;
Collaborating with our institutional partners and innovation centers to produce and facilitate greater equity in entrepreneurship;
Regularly auditing Cortex's development projects and programs, and their impact on and commitment to equity, with analysis categories that include race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and ability;
Developing and utilizing a mechanism for collecting and disaggregating demographic, economic, and attitudinal data of Cortex companies and employees;
Working with developers and contractors on district construction projects to meet and exceed goals for contracting with minority and women-owned businesses and deploying a diverse workforce, as well as participating in ongoing city and regional discussions related to enterprise and workforce goals;
Building a more inclusive organization (staff, leadership, and Board) in hiring, appointments, and company culture;
Offering ongoing training programs in diversity, inclusion, and equity for Cortex staff and leadership;
With staff and Inclusion Committee members, closely examining the Ferguson Commission Report and its calls to action to identify those which Cortex has a role in moving forward, and developing actionable strategies for implementation.
The Cortex Inclusion Committee of the Board oversees this work and advises the Board on programs and policies around diversity, inclusion, and equity.