JEFFERSON CITY — The mayors of St. Louis and of Kansas City spoke to the Senate Economic Development committee in support of creating a trade hub with China at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
"We know the Chinese will be increasing air cargo to the U.S." said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Slay said flights were set to begin later this month.
Slay estimated 5,000 permanent jobs and 11,000 construction jobs would be created by Aerotropolis.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James supported keeping jobs in Missouri to prevent his constituents from relocating across the border to Kansas.
"Help us retain the jobs we have as we continue to provide 22 percent of the revenue in the state of Missouri," James said.
The Senate will be voting on SB8, otherwise known as the Aerotropolis bill, during the special session this week.
A representative from Clayton Agri-Marketing Inc., an agriculture exporting company south of St. Louis, also addressed the committee to talk about the high demand for Missouri livestock in Asian countries.
The company flies live animals to China and other countries in Asia for genetic improvements. Tony Clayton, who spoke for the company, said a trade hub in St. Louis would decrease its operating costs tremendously.
Those questioning the China hub bill ask whether Missouri-based exports can match the large amount of Chinese imports.
"If we do this, the planes are going to be full when they go back to China," Clayton said.
The export of Missouri beef will need to be negotiated with China. No U.S. beef has been allowed into China since an outbreak of mad cow disease in 2003.
The committee meeting was still in progress at deadline.