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ST. LOUIS – With the financial backing of billionaire businessman Andrew C. Taylor, eight Midwest research institutions have joined with the goal of turning St. Louis into the world’s center for geospatial research and innovation.

The Taylor Geospatial Institute (TGI) will be located near the NGA West campus in north St. Louis, offering the next generation of geospatial scientists and engineers research and development opportunities after graduation.

“When I first learned about what geospatial was and what the NGA does, the light went on,” said Taylor, the executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings. “I said, ‘This is something that is really terrific for the St. Louis region,’ if we’re smart about it like other things we’ve done in town, like Ag tech, for instance.’” 

In addition to funding from Taylor, TGI’s eight members will contribute supporting investments: Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Harris-Stowe State University, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Saint Louis University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Washington University in St. Louis.

“I think what you’re seeing in higher education in general is the realization that knowledge doesn’t stop at the borders of the campus or state lines,” said Dr. Fred Pestello, president of Saint Louis University. “Pulling together seven universities, in addition to the Danforth Plant Sciences Center, leveraging the expertise across those, we will be able to accomplish things that no one institution could do alone.” 

An institute spokesperson says the TGI will act as a hub for providing training and jobs in technology, science and computation, national security, smart farming, and healthcare. That collaboration includes 5,000 faculty and 100,000 students to attract and grow businesses that will be transformative to the region.

“Originally, I had no idea what GIS was at the time, but when I was going through my undergraduate degree, I found out what it was because it was required in the Earth and environmental science program,” said Donavan James, a SLU graduate student. “After getting my degree, I decided this was the career path I wanted to go due to the job outlook and growth overall.” 

“I’m hoping (geospatial) becomes another industry that brings a lot of people from out-of-town and creates a lot of interest from students that stay here after they graduate,” Taylor said.