Maria Altman


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

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.

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.

(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."

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.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy will set aside part of the funding it promised toward future mine reclamation in Illinois.

The coal giant reached a settlement with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources this week. The agreement puts “super-priority” status on $12.9 million for mine reclamation in Illinois, placing that funding ahead of other entities with claims in Peabody’s bankruptcy suit.

The motion for the agreement will be heard by a federal judge on Sept. 15.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated at 4 p.m. Aug. 23 with new comments from St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams.

The head of the St. Louis Development Corporation said he will work to keep a business that must move to make way for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's new campus, in business.

SLDC executive director Otis Williams told St. Louis Public Radio on Tuesday that he wants to see Adrienne Harris' adult day care successfully moved into a new building. 

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or one of its many predecessors, has been in St. Louis for more than 70 years and has about 3,000 employees in the city.

Earlier this summer the federal spy agency announced it had chosen a north St. Louis site for its new $1.75 billion campus.

St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman sat down with NGA director Robert Cardillo to talk about his vision for the new facility. (The conversation has been edited for length and clarity):

The  $100 million complex has about 1,000 employees responsible for keeping the U.S. Department of Defense's computer network safe.
Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

There's a new, $100 million dollar building at Scott Air Force Base that is keeping the U.S. Department of Defense's computer network out of trouble.

Military and political dignitaries gathered on Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the 164,000- square-foot complex that houses the Defense Information Systems Agency's Global Operations Command. It’s the largest cyber operations center in the United States.

Paul Sabelman | Flickr

Property owners filled the courtroom in the old St. Louis Civil Courts Building on Thursday.

It had taken a long time to get to this day.

Several of the residents who lived or owned property within the site of what will be the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new $1.75 billion facility fought to get more money. Others were simply tied up with title issues or liens.

"I’ve been waiting for this day and dreading it," Adrienne Harris said.

Harris runs an adult daycare business out of 2525 Benton St., in the home her mother bought more than 40 years ago.

Brenda Nelson plays a card game with friends on Mullanphy Street during the street's last annual block party on Saturday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the third Saturday of July neighbors and former residents gathered in the 2300 block of Mullanphy Street in north St. Louis.

That’s when the annual block party always takes place.

But this would be the last one.

courtesy NewLeaf Symbiotics

NewLeaf Symbiotics is growing fast.

Formed in 2012, the startup has nearly 40 employees and has hired four executives in the last year.

The latest executive to come on board is Dr. Janne Kerovuo, the head of Monsanto’s Microbial Discovery Strategy since 2013. He’ll now be NewLeaf’s Vice President for Research and Discovery.

(From the Economic Development Incentives report from the PFM Group.)

Each month the commissioners of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority of St. Louis hear request after request from developers and even residents for tax abatements that usually last five to 10 years. 

It's just one of the tools the city uses to spur economic development, but St. Louis officials are taking a look at how those tax incentives are distributed. 

A crew member with Matt's Health Woods & Wildlife plants hybrid poplar trees in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood of St. Louis. Fresh Coast Capital is leasing 42 parcels from the city for an urban tree farm. July 13, 2016
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A small crew spent Wednesday morning planting poplar trees on several parcels of vacant land in St. Louis’ Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.

A company called Fresh Coast Capital is leasing 42 parcels from the city’s Land Reutilization Authority for $1 a year. The city will receive about 2 percent of the revenue when the company harvests and seels the hybrid poplar trees in 10 to 12 years.

courtesy of Northside Regeneration

Developer Paul McKee is finally using the Tax Increment Financing approved years ago by the city of St. Louis.

The Board of Aldermen approved a bill on Friday to release $2.8 million in TIF for infrastructure around a proposed grocery store and gas station McKee announced in March. It’s the first time McKee has sought to use any of the $390 million TIF first approved in 2009 for his massive Northside Regeneration project.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill Wednesday tightening laws around a popular economic development tool.

The law is aimed at the St. Louis region, naming St. Louis County, St. Charles County and Jefferson County. It limits the power of municipalities to approve tax increment financing if a county-wide TIF board rejects it.

Nixon signed the bill at a meeting of the regional East-West Gateway Council of Governments, which did a report on the issue.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A 100-acre site in north St. Louis will be home to the sophisticated, high-tech National Geospatial Agency facility in few years.

At the moment, archeologists are trying to find out how people on the site once lived.

"The whole idea is to understand what people’s lives were in past and get a better feel for that," said Joe Harl, principal investigator for Archeological Research Center of St. Louis.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Land Reutilization Authority owns more than 11,000 parcels in the city of St. Louis.

It’s a land mass roughly the size of Forest Park.

St. Louis has the distinction of having the oldest land bank in the country, created by a Missouri state statute in 1971. It was a response to St. Louis’ quickly shrinking population after reaching a height of 856,000 people in 1950.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Paul McKee’s Northside Regeneration is wasting little time now that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has officially chosen to build in St. Louis.

The developer announced on Tuesday he’s partnering with CRG Real Estate Solutions and Washington D.C.-based Telesis Corporation to build 500 residential units over the next five years.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis city officials told about 200 community members that they wanted to hear ideas and concerns about the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new facility that received the official green light just last week.

They got an earful.