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

Fergus Randall | Flickr

The St. Louis-based utility got its start in 1857 as the Laclede Gas Light Company.

Now it will be known as Spire.

Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis all but declared victory after the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s director gave the city the nod earlier this month for a new $1.75 billion facility.

Yet officials across the river aren’t giving up on a 182-acre site in St. Clair County.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s not clear whether the Peabody Opera House will keep its name.

That’s after Peabody Energy filed for bankruptcy last Wednesday. The St. Louis-based coal giant aims to restructure in the midst of a major downturn for the industry. In its bankruptcy filing, it listed $11 billion in assets and $10 billion in liabilities.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will dedicate a new wing of the facility on Friday. The expansion is called the William H. Danforth Wing, in honor of the founding chairman who helped create the plant science center in 1998.

"Everyone thinks I had a big plan when we started. You know you have to feel your way. That’s what you do in life,” Dr. William Danforth told St. Louis Public Radio. “We’re now far ahead of where I thought we would be when we started.”

(courtesy Missouri Competes)

"Discrimination has no place in Missouri.”

That line greets visitors to the Missouri Competes website.

The coalition has come out against Senate Joint Resolution 39, a measure to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the state ballot that would allow clergy and some businesses to refuse services for same-sex weddings.

(courtesy BioSTL)

NRGene is an ag tech company based in Israel that will soon have a presence in St. Louis.

"Settling in St. Louis is actually a pretty easy decision," said Paul Chomet, who will head up the office here.

He said that’s because NRGene, which uses big data analytics to identify genetic traits and improve crops, has dealt with ag companies and scientists in St. Louis previously. That includes the world-renowned Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

Sarah Davis, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

If a federal spy agency chooses to relocate to north St. Louis as expected, residents in the way will have to move quickly.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency gave St. Louis the initial nod last week, but the spy agency’s final decision will come May 30. St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams said a month after that, the city expects some of the 200 residents living in the new site's footprint to begin moving out.

The deal is not done, but St. Louis and Missouri officials are basking in a win.

That’s after National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director Robert Cardillo told St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay late Thursday afternoon that north St. Louis is his preferred location for a new $1.75 billion facility.

Maggie Crane | Twitter

The city of St. Louis chalked up a big win, likely beating out St. Clair County for a federal spy agency.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency indicated in a report that the “preferred” site for its new facility is on the city’s north side. While the final decision isn’t expected until late spring, NGA director Robert Cardillo’s choice is expected to stick.

It’s hard to tell how much impact St. Louis’ 1 percent earnings tax has on attracting businesses to the city. Arguments over the effects of the tax are largely anecdotal.

That’s in part because not much research has been done on the subject over the last 20 years, according to Sarah Coffin, a professor of Urban Planning and Development at Saint Louis University.

(courtesy Powers Insurance and Benefits)

Powers Insurance and Benefits has been in Clayton for nearly 25 years.

Now the family-owned business is making the move to the city of St. Louis.

"There really is no location like this in Clayton, so the city’s giving us something too, which is a very visible site," said CEO Pierce Powers. "You’ll see our signage from the highway."

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

The likely winner of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's new facility will be made public this week. A report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday will include the preferred location for the NGA's new west headquarters.

GreenLeaf Market, ZOOM Store
(courtesy Northside Regeneration)

Northside Regeneration developer Paul McKee’s plan for a nearly two-square mile area of north St. Louis, has had many false starts.

"This is the most difficult urban project in the country, and it’s taken me years to assemble the land," McKee said Wednesday.

Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory
Maria Altman |St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Osher can’t imagine how anyone could think of tearing his building down.

"You see that piece of wood?" he asks pointing to a massive rafter. "That’s old growth Douglas fir. You can’t get that anymore."

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis’ work to gain control 100 acres of the north side is not over yet.

This week the city amended its eminent domain lawsuit, adding 13 more properties. The original suit, filed late last year, included 31 parcels.

(Peabody Energy, via Wikipedia Commons)

Peabody Energy has three coal mines in far southern Illinois, all of which are still producing coal.

When those mines eventually shut down, the company is required by state and federal laws to pay for the clean-up and reclamation of the land. St. Louis-based Peabody has guaranteed the state of Illinois it has the estimated $92 million to cover that work.

But as the company considers bankruptcy, some question whether the St. Louis-based company’s promise is worth much.

Peabody Energy
(St. Louis Public Radio)

Peabody Energy says it may have to file for bankruptcy.

The St. Louis-based coal company filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A year ago the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis announced its Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson.

A few months later a groundbreaking on the site of the former burned-out QuikTrip on W. Florissant Ave. drew a big crowd. What had become a central place for protests in the days after Michael Brown’s death would soon be a “phoenix rising,” officials said.

Peabody Energy
(courtesy Peabody Energy)

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy could be headed for bankruptcy court.

In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week Peabody said some of the company’s senior lenders are pushing the coal giant toward in-court restructuring. That comes as Peabody is trying to sell three mines to Bowie Resource Partners in a deal worth $463 million.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, and Congressman William Lacy Clay, as well as other state and city officials, worked together on north St. Louis' pitch as the NGA's relocation site.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said he got a small reaction from Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, when he told him that the city was offering a 100-acre site at no cost.

"Although he’s got a good poker face, I thought I saw him crack a smile," Slay said.

LockerDome Downtown Office
LockerDome

The Missouri Technology Corporation gets lots of praise for helping boost business creation in Missouri. But it’s not clear whether the legislature will reward it with more funding.

The nonprofit, funded partially by the state, helps promote entrepreneurship. It has provided $24 million in equity investments to 70 startups in the state since 2010.

Plant Science Innovation District
(Courtesy St. Louis Economic Development Partnership)

St. Louis is attracting more life science companies and startups.

Now planning is underway for a 575-acre innovation district that will be anchored by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park, and Helix Center Biotech Incubator.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

In a letter to the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a north St. Louis resident is urging the agency make a final decision on its relocation, citing "lives in limbo."

Gustavo Rendon and his wife, Sheila, live within St. Louis’ proposed site and are facing eminent domain proceedings brought by the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

In the letter to NGA director Robert Cardillo, Rendon said he plans to fast and pray until the decision is made.

(Courtesy GlobalHack)

GlobalHack VI will likely get attention in the computer programming world.

The St. Louis-based hackathon is offering a total of $1 million in cash prizes, making it one of the few hackathons in the U.S. to put up that kind of money.

"There have only been two hackathons in the history of hackathons that have put on an event with $1 million in cash," said Global Hack executive director Matt Menietti. "Those were by Salesforce a couple years ago, so we’re certainly in a different league now."

The owner of Bob’s Quality Market, at 2708 N. Florissant Aven., has reached an agreement to sell the store to Family Dollar. Alderwoman Tammika Hubbar opposes the discount chain's move into the neighborhood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis officials often cite “decades of disinvestment” in their bid to get the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to move to the north side.

Just a few blocks away from the proposed site, Family Dollar is proposing a store on North Florissant Avenue.

coal
(flickr, Atze van Dijk)

Bob Sandidge has been in the coal industry for 40 years.

But he’s never seen it this bad.

"You turn around and one company lays off people, and another company just filed for bankruptcy and another company is cutting way back,"” he said.

The co-owner of S & L Industries in Saline County, Illinois, Sandidge does contract work in coal mines. He said even small business owners in the area are beginning to feel the effects of coal’s downturn.

"It’s been pretty quiet around here," he said.

barge shipping, Mississippi River
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A barge and transportation industry group is sharply criticizing the president’s budget request for river infrastructure and upkeep.

Waterways Council Inc. called President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for the U.S. Army Corps the "most disappointing to date." The budget proposes $4.6 billion for the Corps’ civil works program, nearly 30 percent less than the current appropriation by Congress.

Gateway ARch Sunshine
(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

A long-time, St. Louis-based corporation and a local startup accelerator are teaming up.

Maritz and Capital Innovators announced Monday that they will co-lease space in the innovation district Cortex as part of a four-year partnership.

Cue the theme music from The Odd Couple.

Maritz is a 125-year-old sales and marketing services company, while Capital Innovators is a tech accelerator founded in 2010. Officials with each organization said they’ll gain from the other’s knowledge and exchange best practices.

Grace Baptist Church, on Cass Avenue, as seen from the site of the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee has held a $1 million option to buy the former Pruitt-Igoe site from the city of St. Louis for three years.

That option was set to expire later this month.

But the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority extended McKee’s option for the second time in three years during a closed meeting. It was part of an agreement the city made with McKee to buy land he owns within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on St. Louis’ north side.

1. Northside developer McKee leaves city taxes unpaid.

Northside Regeneration owns 15-hundred acres in St. Louis.

But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman discovered... developer Paul McKee’s company has not paid property taxes on most of that land since 2012.

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