There have been many ribbon cuttings in the Cortex district this year. The debut of a new MetroLink station, a new building called Innovation Hall and the Aloft Hotel groundbreaking were big events, to name a few. But Wednesday's ribbon cutting at the Microsoft Technology Center had politicians, entrepreneurs and techies buzzing more than usual.
The $50 million, 30,000-square-foot center occupies the entire fifth floor of the new Innovation Hall on Duncan Avenue. The software giant chose St. Louis to join an elite group of 50 cities around the world to lay claim to one of its tech centers. There are only 15 located in the U.S.
“It’s designed to host a lot of different activities,” said Jennifer Byrne, chief technology officer for Microsoft Business in the U.S. “We build them intentionally to serve the needs of local communities, whether that’s public institutions or private companies. If you’re a Microsoft user, we encourage you to come in.”
In addition to meeting rooms, a cafe and open collaboration areas, the center features a 'Maker Space' for building with 3-D printers and a 'Garage' for developing new software.
Phil Sorgen, a corporate vice president with Microsoft, said the St. Louis location was chosen because of the growing technology community in the Cortex district and throughout the region.
“Our affiliation here creates a lot of cross-collaboration opportunities with other entities in this area. So, we’re really excited about it.”
In May, Microsoft officials said the new center would create 300 new jobs, but they declined to confirm that number at the opening.
Dennis Lower, president and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community, welcomed Microsoft's investment.
"Their presence here is extremely important to us and to continue to grow the St. Louis region."
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