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

Sam Sextro lights candles across the street from the Edward Jones Dome while mourning the city's loss of the Rams. Sextro and a friend, who ran a St. Louis University High Rams fan club, met outside the stadium Wednesday for a "final tailgate."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This commentary was originally posted on St. Louis Public Radio reporter Maria Altman’s Facebook page on January 14, 2016. It was recorded for “St. Louis on the Air” on January 19, 2016. Listen to the radio commentary here:

Some thought on the Rams leaving for L.A.:

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Saint Louis University’s Shared Use Kitchen is helping food entrepreneurs take a crack at starting their own businesses.

Housed in the basement of the Salus Center, the 6,000 square foot kitchen is used by culinary students and staffers who make breakfast and lunch for six area schools. The university in 2011 opened the kitchen to people looking to start a food-based business.

Mike Mozart | Flickr

Save-A-Lot, the discount grocery chain headquartered in Earth City, could soon be publicly traded as a stand-alone company.

Minneapolis-based SuperValu filed paperwork this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission to spin off its subsidiary.

Its shareholders will own about 80.1 percent of Save-A-Lot, which will be publicly traded. SuperValu will retain 19.9 percent ownership. 

A view of the outside of the Peabody Energy building in St. Louis.
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:30 a.m., Jan. 5 with details of new agreement - A health fund for retired miners will stay solvent for at least 10 more months.

Peabody Energy and the United Mine Workers of America have reached an agreement. The company will pay $75 million into the health fund this year, but will not have to pay $70 million next year.

The flooding Meramec River is taking a toll in Pacific.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Update 11:10 a.m. Friday - According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, as of 10 a.m. Friday, "Both directions of Interstate 44 in St. Louis County are now open between mile marker 253 and 274. Interstate 55 at the St. Louis County and Jefferson County line opened earlier today. All interstates in Missouri are now open to traffic.

"In the St. Louis area, Route 21 and Route 30 remain closed at the Meramec River and Route 141 is still closed at I-44 and at Route 21."

United States Department of Agriculture | via Flickr

The top Christmas tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan. So how is it that the National Tree Christmas Association is based in Chesterfield?

"There’s lots of office space," joked executive director Rick Dungey.

The trade organization represents about 600 active member farms, 29 state and regional associations, and more than 3,800 affiliated businesses. While Missouri ranks 26th in Christmas tree production, Dungey said their office's location doesn't much matter when handling their members’ business.

ChrisYunker | via Flickr

Unemployment in the St. Louis region is the lowest it’s been in years, but job growth is still below the national average.

That’s according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ fourth quarter Burgundy Report on economic conditions, released Friday.

The St. Louis zone, which includes eastern Missouri and southern Illinois, had an average unemployment rate of 5.2 percent in the third quarter. That’s the lowest it’s been since the second quarter of 2007.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Developer Paul McKee will not be among the landowners taken to court by the city of St. Louis in an effort to lure a federal agency to the north side.

The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority reached a deal with McKee’s company, Northside Regeneration, this week. That includes the option to buy more than 300 parcels of McKee’s land within the proposed site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

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

For some investors it’s about more than making money.

Sustainable, Responsible and Impact (SRI) financial investments are becoming more common among both public and private investors.

Madaket Growth, LLC, a St. Louis-based investment company, is capitalizing on that trend. Founder Christopher Desloge said they’re now starting the first SRI investment fund for qualified investors in St. Louis. (Those investors earn more than $200,000 a year and have assets of at least $1 million, excluding their home.)

Arcade Apartments, Arcade Building
(courtesy of Missouri History Museum, St. Louis)

Updated Friday, Dec. 11, 5 p.m. Developers say that construction is complete on the Arcade Apartments. Construction crews wrapped up their work last week and the first residents have moved in.

Jeff Huggett, a developer at Dominuim, says more than 100 of the apartments have been reserved. In a statement, he says the Arcade Building project is the largest apartment renovation in St. Louis in decades.

Our original story:

The Arcade Building in downtown St. Louis is set to reopen in December for the first time since it closed in 1978.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

They weren’t fastballs, but there was a lot of pitching at Busch Stadium on Thursday.

The founders of four sports startups threw their best stuff at investors gathered inside the ballpark. It was Stadia Ventures first demo day.

The St. Louis-based accelerator offers 10-week mentorship for sports entrepreneurs and investments of up to $100,000. Co-founder Art Chou said it’s the right city for the sports innovation hub.

(Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio)

Developer Paul McKee owns the lion’s share of the land within the proposed north St. Louis site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Security guards at the Callaway nuclear power plant near Fulton warn they could go on strike if they don’t reach a contract agreement with Ameren Missouri.

The United Government Security Officers of America Local 11 represents 91 security officers at Missouri’s only nuclear power plant. They’ve been on a month-to-month contract since rejecting an agreement with Ameren Missouri in July.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Cyber security has become a major initiative of the Pentagon.

As part of that initiative, Scott Air Force Base has a new cyberspace operations group that will eventually include 300 new jobs. The 688th Cyberspace Wing activated the group on Tuesday.

Colonel Roger Vrooman also became the new commander of the group during Tuesday's activation ceremony. He later told members of the media that he worries about cyber attacks that aren’t detected.

Courtesy of the Illinois Farm Bureau

Hopefully you got your fill of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. It may be your last until next fall.

Canned pumpkin supplies are expected to run out after the holiday. This year’s yield was down by about half in Illinois, where 90 percent of the crop for canned pumpkin is produced.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

An 86-mile stretch of levees along the Mississippi River was a source of hand-wringing from Alton to Columbia, Illinois, back in 2007.

Now local officials speak with pride about the work to improve the levee system.

(Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio)

When the Starbucks in Ferguson opens in the spring, it will be more than a new coffee place.

Getting a Starbucks is a big deal for the small city that saw several businesses go up in flames in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in 2014.

"There’s probably that belief in some people’s minds that people would be hesitant to make an investment along West Florissant or an investment in north county," said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. "The fact that Starbucks has stepped up to do that, we’re very excited and very appreciative."

Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:45 p.m., Nov. 16 with revised Illinois proposal - Metro East officials are sweetening their offer to attract a federal spy agency and its roughly 3,000 workers. St. Clair County officials said Monday that they are adding 200 acres to its proposal for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Boeing FA-18 Super Hornet
Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen G. Hale II | U.S. Navy

Updated 1:33 p.m., Feb. 16 with rejection of protest -  Boeing is considering its options following the denial of a protest over the military's decision to award a lucrative contract to a rival contractor. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says it has found no issues with the Air Force’s move to award the contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber to Northrop Grumman. Boeing's St. Louis-based Defense, Space & Security division still claims the Air Force's evaluation of the competing proposal was "fundamentally and irreparably flawed."

The engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the deal is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion

 

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

In May of last year, BioGenerator officials crunched the numbers and realized about a  dozen companies in their portfolio would need to raise $60 to $90 million in order to keep growing.

BioGenerator, which formed in 2003, is a sort of incubator for biotech companies in St. Louis, providing early stage funding and support for 65 companies to date.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A non-profit aimed at developing more programmers in St. Louis is launching a new center on the north side.

The LaunchCode Mentor Center will open its doors Thursday evening at 4811 Delmar Boulevard, in a former state unemployment office.

Center director Chris Bay said they hope to engage the surrounding Fountain Park neighborhood with the kickoff event.

"We want people to not just come and celebrate and see a ribbon being cut. We want people to interact," he said.

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis can start the legal process to move residents from a north side area that would instead become home to a federal spy agency.

The city's Board of Aldermen passed a resolution Friday allowing the use of eminent domain against 19 property owners. They live within a 100-acre acre that is the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The vote was 19- 5 with one abstention.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis soon could begin using the eminent domain process against land owners within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on the city's north side.

Members of the aldermanic Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee voted 8-1 on Wednesday for a resolution that listed 37 property owners who could be forced to sell their land to the city. The resolution is  expected to go before the full board on Friday.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

International accounting firm KPMG looked at cities all over the United States and landed on St. Louis for its information tech expansion.

The company already has an office in downtown St. Louis with 270 employees. Over the next three years, it plans to add 175 IT positions, the company announced at a press conference today.

Karen Vangyia, the managing partner of the local office, said St. Louis is one of the fastest growing markets for technology jobs. She pointed to computer science programs at several local universities and the availability of professionals.

(Flickr/Laurence Livermore)

BioSTL has grabbed a $500,000 grant from the Small Business Administration.

It was one of just three Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative grants the SBA is giving out nationally and is meant to spur small business growth.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Mississippi River basin got its first-ever report card from the America’s Watershed Initiative ... and it was nothing to write home about.

The overall grade is D+.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District

A study of four possible sites for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s relocation is out, and the city of St.Louis is very much in the running.

(You can read the 468 page report here.)

The NGA is planning to move from its current location south of downtown St. Louis and build a new $1.6 billion facility.

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto announced Wednesday it would shed 2,600 employees in the next 18 to 24 months as the company deals with declining seed sales.

The seed giant reported a $495 million loss, or about $1.06 per share, for its fiscal fourth quarter.

It’s not clear how many jobs will be affected at its Creve Coeur-based headquarters. The cuts represent about 12 percent of Monsanto’s workforce, and spokeswoman Sara Miller said they will take place globally across all functions.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The coal industry has hit hard times.

This summer several coal companies, including Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy.

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, is not immune. The coal giant’s share price has fallen nearly 97 percent in the last five years. The company recently did a reverse stock split, bundling 15 shares into one in order to avoid share prices going below $1.

Peabody Energy spokesman Vic Svec said as a commodity business, they’re used to the volatility.

(courtesy Cortex/Chris Cross)

A little more West Coast is moving into St. Louis.

The music streaming company Pandora opened an office inside Cortex, St. Louis’ innovation district, on Monday.

"Pandora came looking for us," said Dougan Sherwood, co-founder and managing director of CIC St. Louis, which is housed in the @4240 building.

Sherwood said officials with Pandora, which is based in Oakland, Calif., wanted to replicate the culture they have at their headquarters.

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