Maria Altman

Reporter

Maria is a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio, specializing in business and economic issues. Previously, she was a newscaster during All Things Considered and has been with the station since 2004. Maria's stories have been featured nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on Marketplace.

Maria has won numerous awards, including from the Illinois Associated Press, the Missouri Broadcasters Association, the Missouri Bar Association, and the Missouri State Teachers Association.

She came to St. Louis from Dallas, where she worked at KERA. Maria has also worked at WUIS in Springfield, and WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. She received her M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa.

In her spare time she serves as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Maria lives in St. Louis with her husband and two kids.

Ways to Connect

The Jamestown Mall Dillards in December 2016.
Mike Kalasnik | Flickr

Erica Holliam used to love shopping at the St. Louis Outlet Mall, or what used to be called the Mills Mall.

That was before all of her favorite stores closed.

“This was my row,” she said pointing to a line of empty stores, tastefully hidden behind colorful curtains. “I used to shop at the Banana Republic and then on the other side there was another store. But obviously I can’t do that anymore.”

St. Louis Public Radio

A federal bankruptcy judge in St. Louis denied a motion Thursday to give shareholders in Peabody Energy an equity committee that would represent their interests during the coal giant’s bankruptcy.

Judge Barry Schermer delivered his ruling after the hearing, and said the cost of creating an equity committee was not justified if there was no equity to offer shareholders.

Peabody’s reorganization plan, released in December, calls for zeroing out shareholders’ equity.

Protesters gathered outside a downtown St. Louis Hardees on Thursday in opposition to Donald Trump's selection for Labor Secretary
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, is getting criticism on his home turf.

The St. Louis native is CEO of the company that owns Hardees and Carl’s Junior, CKE Restaurants.

About 50 protesters gathered outside Hardees headquarters in downtown St. Louis on Thursday, questioning whether the fast food CEO would really represent workers’ interests. They then walked a couple of blocks to stand in front of a Hardees restaurant.

(courtesy Project Connect)

The city of St. Louis officially owns all the land of the proposed new $1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency facility.

The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority closed on the last of the 551 parcels this month.

Soon the LCRA, the NGA and the Army Corps of Engineers will sign an options agreement for the land. Once they do, the city will have exactly one year to prepare the site.

Peabody describes itself as the world's largest private-sector coal company
Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy is mapping out its plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection next spring.

The coal company has filed a financial reorganization proposal with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis that calls for shedding more than $5 billion in debt and eventually issuing new common stock. Current shareholders would not receive anything and might oppose the plan.

Autoclave at new Boeing commerical airline parts facility in St. Louis
Maria Altman| St. Louis Public Radio

Boeing will move its defense unit from St. Louis to Arlington, Virginia. A spokesman Tuesday confirmed the decision, which was made by senior management. Boeing's defense headquarters have been in St. Louis since the 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas.

Monsanto shareholders approve sale to Bayer

Dec 13, 2016
Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto shareholders have approved Bayer’s roughly $65 billion acquisition of the seed giant.

The company said 99 percent of shareholders present Tuesday morning in Chesterfield voted in favor of the $128 per share deal and that 75 percent of all shareholders attended the special meeting.

“It was overwhelming support,” said Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant in a phone interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

courtesy City Foundry

Two major redevelopment projects in St. Louis’ midtown got approval from an aldermanic committee on Wednesday.

City Foundry covers about 14 acres just east of IKEA. The Midtown Redevelopment, spearheaded by Saint Louis University, includes nearly 400 acres along Grand Avenue.

The City Foundry is a being developed by Cortex and the Lawrence group in four phases that could cost up to $340 million. The plan includes food, retail, office space and apartments.

provided | Cardinals

A St. Louis aldermanic committee approved a $56 million tax incentive package for Phase II of the Cardinals’ Ballpark Village on Wednesday in a meeting that also delved into larger economic development issues in the city.

Flickr Creative Commons | Mike G

The day after Black Friday is getting a bit more buzz.

The National Federation of Independent Business reports Americans spent about $16 billion at local merchants on Small Business Saturday last year.

August 22, 2007 Pfizer groundbreaking in Chesterfield.
File Photo | Bill Greenblatt

St. Louis County is getting another big business development.

Pfizer is partnering with Clayco and CRG for a new $200 million facility in Chesterfield. Clayco and its real estate subsidiary CRG will construct and own the building, while Pfizer will have a long-term lease.

The biopharmaceutical company has 450 employees at two facilities in the St. Louis region, and plans to create 80 new positions for the new facility.

Provided by the Cardinals

The next phase of Ballpark Village would change the look of downtown St. Louis.

The Cardinals, along with development partner Cordish, plan to build a 29-story apartment building at the corner of Clark Avenue and Broadway Avenue, just north of Busch Stadium.

Startup Connection | provided

The St. Louis region will celebrate its entrepreneurial community Wednesday evening with Startup Connection.

The event will bring together more than 70 startups, along with investors, sponsoring companies, entrepreneur support organizations and community members. The startups will each give a 60 second elevator pitch as they compete for $250,000 in cash and prizes.

Startup Connection’s managing director Phyllis Ellison said the event highlights what’s happening among the region’s startups.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center | provided

Researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center are working on a device that  they hope to eventually sell to farmers.

The PheNode can monitor a variety of crop conditions, such as wind speed, humidity, soil nutrients, even air quality, and it can take pictures. Researchers and farmers could then get that information sent to their mobile devices as often as they choose.

courtesy PayIt

St. Louis residents can now pay their property tax, water and trash bills from their phone or other mobile device.

The city’s Collector of Revenue office is among the first to work with PayIt, a mobile technology startup based in Kansas City. The app went live this week.

Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly said convenience is important, especially when getting people to pay their taxes.

A team competes during GlobalHack IV in June 2015. GlobalHack VI takes will take place at Chaifetz Arena over three days. More than 1,200 people are expected to take part.
courtesy GlobalHack

GlobalHack VI is all about solving a software problem and bringing attention to St. Louis’ tech scene.

This software competition is focused on helping the St. Patrick Center, a local non-profit that serves the homeless.

The $1 million in cash prizes is helping attract software engineers, graphic designers and other technologists from a wide area. GlobalHack executive director Matt Menietti said earlier this week that 1,200 people had signed up from 33 states and five countries.

He said he hopes they’ll get to know St. Louis a bit more.

An artist's rendering of the Green Leaf Market and ZOOM Store to be built at Tucker Boulevard and 13th Street. April 2016
courtesy Northside Regeneration

The St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment will allow the release of a $2.8 million tax increment financing note for developer Paul McKee’s planned grocery store and gas station.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Two years ago BioSTL set out to put St. Louis on Israel’s radar.

The non-profit, founded in 2001, helped develop the support system for St. Louis bioscience startups. Then, a few years ago, president and CEO Donn Rubin started hearing that Israeli startups were expanding into other U.S. cities.

An aerial view of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at 3200 South 2nd Street.
NGA

St. Louis’ Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority has authorized issuing up to $120 million in revenue bonds.

The money will be used by the city to acquire and prepare the north St. Louis site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new $1.75 billion facility.

LCRA’s commissioners approved the move at a special session on Tuesday.

The bonds will help the city pay back $33 million in loans to purchase the land, the latest of which is a $10-million loan taken from the Missouri Development Finance Board this month.

Autoclave at new Boeing commerical airline parts facility in St. Louis
Maria Altman| St. Louis Public Radio

Boeing’s new facility will start production of composite parts for the 777X commercial jet in January.

The company held a ribbon cutting for a new 424,000-square-foot plant on Thursday. Eventually Boeing expects to hire about 700 employees for production on the 777X in St. Louis.

An artist's rendering of the Green Leaf Market and ZOOM Store to be built at Tucker Boulevard and 13th Street. April 2016
courtesy Northside Regeneration

Developer Paul McKee is asking for $2.8 million in tax increment financing for a grocery store and gas station, as well as a one percent sales tax to help pay the TIF back.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Housing, Urban Development and Zoning committee approved both proposals on 4-3 votes on Wednesday.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

It’s hard to overstate how big of a deal the National Ploughing Championships are in Ireland.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny attended the annual event last month near Tullamore, along with about 300,000 people for what is considered the largest ag showcase in Europe.

The U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, was also there, wearing a business suit, green tie, and wellies, the rubber boots everyone wears to "the Ploughing."

Monsanto
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Losing a corporate headquarters is generally not considered good news.

Yet the announcement that Creve Coeur-based Monsanto is likely to be acquired by Bayer is being viewed by many in the startup community as a positive.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

On a Sunday morning in Tel Aviv the streets are bustling. It’s the first day of the work week for Israelis.

BioSTL’s man in Israel, Uri Attir, has set up meetings with five startups companies. The first is at Hebrew University’s agriculture school in Rehovot, a southern suburb of the city.

In a small university conference room, a plant science professor and his three-member team present their business. The audience consists of three members of the non-profit BioSTL and a representative from the Danforth Plant Science Center.

A view of the National Ploughing Championships in Ireland.
Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

In a glass-encased room under a white tent, ag tech startups took to a stage in a pitch competition on Tuesday. It was just a small part of the National Ploughing Championships in Ireland, what is now the largest ag trade show in Europe.

The competition between startups in that small room, not tractors out in the fields, was the reason two St. Louis organizations made the trip to Tullamore, Ireland this week. Both BioSTL and the Yield Lab are looking to plug into the Irish ag tech startup community.

"It turns out that Ireland is jam-packed with innovation," said Donn Rubin, CEO and president of BioSTL.

The Yield Lab, a St. Louis-based food and ag tech accelerator, is planning to expand into Galway, Ireland.

The incubator launched in 2014, investing $100,000 in startups and providing mentorship over a nine-month program. Managing director Thad Simons said part of the reason to create Yield Lab Galway is to gain access to both European startups and markets.

(courtesy Monsanto and Bayer)

Bayer and Monsanto executives are working to calm nerves in St. Louis regarding the planned $66 billion acquisition.

In Wednesday's announcement, Bayer said it will keep the combined company’s seeds and traits business in St. Louis, as well as its North American headquarters.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee owns quite a bit of land within the Old North neighborhood on St. Louis’ north side.

But a deal between McKee, the Old North Restoration Group, and the city’s land bank could soon change that.

Earlier this summer the Old North Restoration Group asked an aldermanic committee that McKee release about 65 parcels to the neighborhood before receiving tax incentives for a grocery store and gas station.

Within days McKee and the neighborhood group met.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

Women are getting more involved in ag tech.

It’s evident at the Ag Innovation Showcase, a conference of agricultural innovators, scientists and investors that takes place annually at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

ChrisYunker | via Flickr

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is planning to fill more than 200 positions over the next two years.

Most of the new positions are due to additional services the St. Louis Fed is taking on for the U.S. Treasury. Kathy Paese, executive vice president over the St. Louis Fed’s Treasury Division, said it’s something most people aren’t aware of.

"We maintain 22 different systems for them and perform a lot of different business operations for them, so much of our growth has been the result of Treasury moving additional functions to St. Louis," Paese said.

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