Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis citizens group wants the city to be more transparent when it comes to tax incentives.

Team TIF is asking the city's Board of Aldermen to pass three proposals and has even drafted the language:

(Flickr, Marcie Casas)

A new cybersecurity apprenticeship program is about to begin in the St. Louis region.

The Midwest Cyber Center is partnering with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, known as SLATE, to launch the 18-month apprenticeship.

The Cybersecurity Analyst Registered Apprenticeship  is aimed at those who are at least 18, with a high school diploma or G.E.D. Midwest Cyber Center Executive Director Tony Bryan said they wanted to attract those with little experience into the field.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated on 4/26/2017 with comments from Sen. Will Kraus

The state of Missouri collected $435 million in corporate income tax revenue in fiscal year 2015.

That plummeted to $280 million last year.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
via Flickr/Michael R. Allen

The Federal Aviation Administration has accepted the city of St. Louis’ preliminary application into an airport privatization pilot program.

The U.S. Department of Transportation made the announcement on Monday. Secretary Elaine L. Chao said the acceptance demonstrates the administration’s commitment to using innovative financing strategies to revitalize the nation’s aviation infrastructure.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Outrageous.

That’s the word Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway used over and over to describe her office’s findings after an audit into the state’s 205 Transportation Development Districts.

“The average citizen is getting taken advantage of here,” Galloway said Monday at a news conference to release the report. “It’s outrageous that there’s almost $1 billion in project costs that taxpayers are on the hook for. They don’t know about it and they didn’t vote for it.”

Portfolio of Missouri Technology Corporation

If you throw a rock in the St. Louis startup ecosystem, you’ll likely hit a company that’s gotten some of its investment funds from the Missouri Technology Corporation.

The Missouri General Assembly established the public-private partnership in 1994 to promote entrepreneurism and grow high-tech companies. MTC has co-invested about $35 million in nearly 100 startups since 2011, many of them based in St. Louis.

That investment may dry up soon.

Firefighters work outside of the Loy-Lange Box Company building on South 3rd Street. (April 3, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:25 a.m. April 6 with confirmation of fourth death — The death toll has risen from this week's boiler explosion at a factory in the Soulard neighborhood.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said Clifford Lee, 53, died on Wednesday. Lee was inside the Fautless Linen Company when a piece of the boiler that exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company crashed through the roof.

Flickr | TerryJohnston

Panera Bread is the latest St. Louis-based company to be acquired.

European conglomerate JAB Holding will buy the casual dining chain for roughly $7.5 billion, or $315  per share plus the assumption of $340 million in net debt, according to a joint news release. 

St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy will again trade on the New York Stock Exchange beginning on Tuesday, as they announced that they're emerging from bankruptcy.

It will be under its old ticker symbol BTU, but company officials are calling it a new day.

“We believe that ‘The New BTU’ is well positioned to create substantial value for shareholders and other stakeholders over time,” said Peabody President and CEO Glenn Kellow in a press release.

The coal company says it shed about $5 billion in debt from the time it filed for Chapter 11 in April 2016.

Provded: Ameren

Ameren Corporation is launching an energy accelerator with the help of the University of Missouri system, UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators.

President and CEO Warner Baxter said on Friday the utility will invest $100,000 each in five to seven startups chosen to participate in the Ameren Accelerator program.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The two-story brick home at 3735 California St. got a second chance.

The property, owned by the city of St. Louis' Land Reutilization Authority, was slated for demolition. Then Alderwoman Cara Spencer, 20th Ward, had an idea: take money for demolition and put it toward stabilizing the building in the heart of the Gravois Park neighborhood.

The city’s Building Commissioner, Frank Oswald, agreed. Rather than spending $10,000 to tear it down, the division spent $14,000 for roof work and tuck-pointing.

A vacant building at 4030 Evans Ave. owned by the city's Land Reutilization Authority in March 2017.
File photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters will decide next month whether to increase their property taxes by a penny in order to help stabilize vacant buildings owned by the city.

Proposition NS is on the April 4 ballot. If passed, it would allow St. Louis to sell up to $40 million in bonds, or about $6 million each year for about 6½ years. That amounts to a one-cent property tax increase per $100 of valuation on a property.

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The business organizations that took St. Louis' law to raise the minimum wage to the Missouri Supreme Court filed a motion Wednesday for it to be reheard.

It was the last day they could challenge last month's ruling that upheld the city's law.

Courtesy Wexford Science & Technology

Microsoft is coming to the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis’ Central West End.

The Washington state-based company will open its regional headquarters and a Microsoft Technology Center to serve as an anchor for a new tech building at 4220 Duncan Ave.

Lyda Krewson thanks her supporters, family and campaign staff after winning the Democratic mayoral primary election by 888 votes.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson emerged from a crowded field of candidates, many of them well-known city leaders, to win Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary. 

With all precincts reporting, Krewson had 32.04 percent of the vote to city Treasurer Tishaura Jones' 30.38 percent — just 888 votes.

On the Republican side, utility executive Andrew Jones handily beat out his two competitors — one of whom, Crown Candy Kitchen owner Andy Karandzieff, had said he entered on a whim and didn't really want to be mayor. Both Jones and Krewson move on to the April 4 general election, where they'll face at least five candidates from other parties.

(illustration by Susannah Lohr, St. Louis Public Radio)

The BIRD Foundation has fostered partnerships between Israeli technology startups and companies and U.S. corporations since it was founded in 1977.

Now the group has brought its first delegation to St. Louis.

Twelve Israeli ag tech companies are in town for a two-day visit to make pitches to investors and meet individually with Monsanto, KWS and others.

Limor Nakar-Vincent, the BIRD Foundation’s deputy executive director for business development, said there’s an emphasis on collaboration in St. Louis’ bio-science and ag ecosystem.

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The National Urban League Conference will be in St. Louis this summer.

The event will be held July 26-29 at the America’s Center.  

President and CEO Marc Morial said on Friday that St. Louis proved itself back in 2007 when it first hosted the national conference. But he said this year’s conference, with the theme “Save Our Cities,” is coming back in part because of the challenges African-Americans face in St. Louis.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

While St. Louis voters decide among mayoral and aldermanic candidates in the city’s primary election next Tuesday, they’ll also answer a question about short-term lenders.

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Contractors move the house north on Jefferson Avenue on Sunday morning. (Feb. 26, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Charlesetta Taylor was a 10-year-old when she and her family moved into the home at 2530 North Market St.

That was back in 1945.

But now, it's her house that's moved, not the octogenarian. 

"It's crazy to see any house move," Taylor said Sunday as she stood outside watching her three-story brick home roll up Jefferson Avenue to its final destination at 2200 St. Louis Ave. 

Vacant buildings owned by the Land Reutilization Authority in the 4000 block of Evans Avenue. February 2017.
File Photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Land Reutilization Authority has nearly 12,000 parcels of vacant land and buildings and just eight and half employees.

That’s far below the ratio of employees to property in other cities, according to a year-long assessment of the LRA released on Thursday. Urban planning firm Asakura Robinson, which conducted the yearlong study, recommends the agency hire four more employees in the next one to three years.

The International Institute in St. Louis helps immigrants to get settled, find housing and find jobs. Feb 2017
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

The International Institute of St. Louis is highlighting a new report that delves into the numbers behind immigrants in the United States.

The national organization New American Economy released the report “Map the Impact” on Tuesday. The report breaks down not just the number of immigrants in each congressional district, metropolitan area and state, but also looks at what they provide in taxes, spending power, education and entrepreneurship.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Mexico purchased $2.56 billion in Missouri goods in 2016.

That’s second only to Canada, Missouri’s top export partner, which spent $5.2 billion last year.

“Exports are important for a variety of reasons, and in terms of our manufacturers it’s critical,” said Ann Pardalos, the head of the state's International Trade and Investment Office.

A part of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Pardalos’ agency works to help small manufacturers and service providers look at global markets. One way they connect businesses to international markets is through trade fairs, including the Expo Manufactura held in Monterrey, Mexico, last week.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District could spend up to $13.5 million demolishing abandoned buildings in the city.

MSD’s board approved an agreement on Thursday with the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority. The move was long in the making. MSD has already demolished about 220 vacant building through a pilot program started back in 2010, and in 2015 the district announced it would do more.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway announced Tuesday that her office will audit two Community Improvement Districts in the St. Louis region.

Those include the BaratHaven Community Improvement District in St. Charles County and the North Oaks Plaza Shopping Center in north St. Louis County.

(courtesy M Properties)

Northside Regeneration’s plans for the old Pruitt-Igoe site became public this week, including a $72 million complex of medical buildings, commercial and office space and two hotels.

Developer Paul McKee’s company bought the 34-acre site from the city for $1 million last summer. Northside Regeneration had held the option for several years, and McKee previously received state approval to build a three-bed urgent care facility within the former federal housing site.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

South Grand Boulevard is known for its many international restaurants.

“We have 14 countries represented here within our six blocks,” said Rachel Witt. "That’s more than Epcot in Disney World.”

Witt is executive director of the South Grand Community Improvement District, one of the early CIDs in St. Louis. 

Atomation CEO and co-founder Guy Weitzman speaks a press conference on Friday morning.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Atomation is a startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel, but the company will soon have an office in St. Louis.

The two-year-old tech startup has developed an IoT (internet of things) platform that connects physical objects to the internet. CEO and co-founder Guy Weitzman said the company is already working with four customers in the St. Louis region, including Ameren.

St. Louis Outlet Mall
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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