State board OK’s Express Scripts subsidy package

A Missouri state board on Tuesday gave its blessing to $6.8 million in tax incentives for Express Scripts’ planned expansion in north St. Louis County, part of a package of state and local subsidies that could eventually top $40 million for the prescription drug giant.

After brief discussion and a unanimous vote, the Missouri Development Finance Board approved Build Missouri Bonds to help finance a $43 million office building for Express Scripts at NorthPark, a giant business park east of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

The company plans to house about 1,000 employees there as part of a 1,500-person expansion as it adapts to fast organic growth and absorbs recently purchased rival Medco Health Solutions. Express Scripts also says about 400 contract workers, employed by other companies, will work on the site.

“These are wonderful numbers,” said MDFB chairwoman Marie Carmichael.

If all those jobs are created, Express Scripts will be eligible for an additional $24.7 million in Missouri Works tax credits. The St. Louis County Council separately is expected to act on an incentive package totaling $8.75 million in sales and property tax breaks for the company.

Express Scripts said it has considered other sites for the expansion and that its decision to put the new jobs here in St. Louis hinged on receiving tax incentives. Spokesman Brian Henry also said Express Scripts has an obligation to its customers to keep costs low, including real estate costs, and incentives help do that.

“We have an obligation to deliver health care in the most efficient manner possible,” Henry said. “If there are incentives available that will help us do that, we’ll absolutely apply for them.”

Henry said Express Scripts hopes to start construction in the fall and open the 225,000-square-foot building next year. It’ll be the third building the company has put up in NorthPark, a 550-acre business park across Interstate 70 from its headquarters on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Express Scripts also plans to redesign the truck entrance to its high-volume filler there to add walking paths and green space.

In a statement, Gov. Jay Nixon hailed the news, and said Express Scripts’ growth demonstrates that “our fiscally conservative, pro-growth policies” have created a good climate for business.

“I am very proud that this longtime Missouri company has chosen to significantly expand its footprint in the Show-Me State, and I look forward to celebrating more good news as this project develops.”

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