The Missouri Senate has given first round approval to economic development legislation designed to spur growth in fast-growing sectors of our economy — international trade, data centers, and emerging technology and innovation companies.

One of the key provisions of Senate Bill 120, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, would provide incentives for businesses that forward freight internationally through Lambert Airport in St. Louis. Under the legislation, qualified freight forwarders would receive tax credits against income tax, based on the volume of outbound air cargo. The credits are capped at $7.5 million per year.

Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Dan Mehan says the legislation could be transformational not just for Missouri but for the entire region. Mehan also serves as chairman of the Midwest Hub Commission, an organization that has promoted the concept for nearly five years.

Tax incentives to encourage the establishment of data centers in Missouri were also included in SB 120 passed by the Missouri Senate. A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. We have become a technology and data driven society and the need of data centers are a result of this exponential growth.

Missouri is losing out to Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and other Midwestern states. Neighboring states offer tax incentives including sales tax exemptions and personal property tax exemptions and abatement. Under current incentive conditions, a 100,000-square-foot data center costs $15 million more to locate in Missouri than in competing states.

The Angel Tax Credits program is another priority of the Missouri Chamber. During floor debate of SB 120, Sen. Jolie Justice offered an amendment to provide funding for Angel Tax Credits which reward qualified individual investors for investing in early stage, wealth-creating businesses. The program fills a need that currently exists for innovation and technology startups by providing funding when other financial institutions cannot.