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

(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.

(U.S. Federal Reserve Board)

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen made opening remarks Wednesday at the Community Banking in the 21st Century Research and Policy Conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Yellen’s speech did not touch on monetary policy.

The city of St. Louis may use its power of eminent domain against developer Paul McKee and 18 other land owners in its bid to retain the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

A resolution will be introduced to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday to allow the legal process to begin.

houses for sale, housing market
(Flickr, Tom Caswell)

A new economic report offers some good news for St. Louis... and some just okay news.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis released its third-quarter St. Louis Burgundy Book on Tuesday. While the housing market in St. Louis is on a definite upswing, the labor market lags behind the U.S. labor market.

Wayne Crosslin | International Institute of St. Louis

The immigrant population in the St. Louis region has been declining in recent years.

The U.S. Census released 2014 numbers on Thursday. In St. Louis’ metropolitan statistical area it showed an estimated loss of about 10,000 foreign-born residents between 2011 and 2014.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

GMOs -- genetically modified organisms -- are not exactly a controversial subject at the Ag Innovation Showcase.

The three-day annual event is the place where the agriculture industry comes together to talk about new trends and startups to present to potential investors.

Yet this week at the seventh annual showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, there was also discussion around how people outside of agriculture view the technology. The auditorium was packed for a panel discussion called "Transparency Without Prejudice--Bridging the GMO Divide."

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.)

The Ag Innovation Showcase began on Monday at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. In its seventh year, the three-day event includes panel discussions on trends in agriculture and technology and gives startups a chance to find investors and partners. 

This year, 19 early stage companies will present to possible investors. Those companies are focused on precision agriculture, renewables and sustainables, biological solutions and farming innovations.

(courtesy GlobalHack)

The problems plaguing the municipal court system in St. Louis County have been in the spotlight a lot lately. This weekend, coders will come together at GlobalHack V to see if they can develop some tech solutions.

It’s a shift for GlobalHack, which has focused on corporate problem-solving since it launched two years ago. Executive director Matt Menietti said the non-profit’s goal is to improve the city’s tech community, but they wanted to see if they could do more.

(Flickr/MaximilianV)

Bring them here.

That’s the rallying cry of a march planned for this weekend in St. Louis asking the U.S. government to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the city.

The St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is organizing the event Sunday evening in the Delmar Loop. Executive director Faizan Syed said more than 1,000 people have indicated they will attend.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is throwing his support behind St. Louis city’s site for the relocated National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The Democrat sent a letter on Friday to NGA director Robert Cardillo. In it he proclaimed St. Louis County’s "unconditional support" for the 100-acre site in north St. Louis.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Sen. Claire McCaskill is embarking this week on an agricultural tour of the state.

The Missouri Democrat began Monday with a stop at the Danforth Plant Science Center, a non-profit research institute, in suburban St. Louis. The center’s campus also includes the Bio Research & Development Growth Park (BRDG Park), an incubator that houses and helps develop life science startups.

After touring the facility, McCaskill said such research is key to the future of agriculture.

Monsanto pulls bid for Syngenta

Aug 26, 2015
Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis-based seed giant announced Wednesday its offer to buy Swiss pesticide producer Syngenta is off the table.

While Monsanto continued to argue the merger would have "created value" for shareholders of both companies, it said in a statement the most recent offer did not meet Syngenta’s financial expectations.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A tractor trailer from Anheuser-Busch’s St. Louis brewery will be hard to miss.

The trucks have gone green, both literally and figuratively.

The beer giant announced Tuesday that it’s converted 97 diesel tractor trucks to compressed natural gas. To highlight the change, all of the trucks now sport a bright green exterior and Anheuser-Busch’s “Seed to Sip” logo.

(St. Louis Community College 2015 Workforce Report)

St. Louis’ economy is doing well, but employers are having a harder time finding skilled employees.

Those are among the findings in the 2015 State of St. Louis Workforce Report released by St. Louis Community College on Wednesday.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The burned-out buildings are gone, but one year after Michael Brown’s death the scars at local businesses along West Florissant Avenue are still apparent.

At Zisser Tire & Auto Service in Dellwood there is plywood on several windows. Owner John Zisser said he’s just waiting on a city permit to change the window configuration.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The city could pay developer Paul McKee for his redevelopment rights, as well as his land, if the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency chooses the north city site.

St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams confirmed that this week. He told St. Louis Public Radio the city is negotiating with McKee over both.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

(Updated at 12:20 pm July 30, 2015 with Arch Coal quarterly results)

St. Louis-based Arch Coal has followed Peabody Energy this week in posting a significant quarterly loss. The company says its net loss widened to $168 million, compared to roughly $97-million for the same period a year earlier.
(Read the Arch Coal earnings report)

"Arch continues to weather the significant market challenges facing the industry," said Chief Executive Officer John W. Eaves.

Provided by Boeing

Look closely and you’ll notice a kangaroo on the side of the sleek gray fighter jet and a boomerang on its tail.

This EA-18G Growler, produced at Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security headquarters in St. Louis, has all the markings to show that it's headed to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Flickr/Shane McGraw

Some crops in Illinois are under water. Some have yet to be planted.

After the wettest June on record, officials in Illinois with the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week they’re seeking a federal disaster declaration to help farmers with flood-damaged crops.

"This has been the absolute worst spring for getting anything done that I’ve seen in 40 years of farming. It seemed like just as the ground was drying up, it’d rain again," said Greg Guenther, who farms east of Belleville.

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Buy it and they will come.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a measure Friday to take a $20 million loan in order to buy land within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The loan will use one--- possibly two---city buildings as collateral. The measure passed with a vote of 18-9 with one abstention.

The NGA, however, will not choose among four possible locations in the St. Louis region until next year.

(courtesy Masonry Association)

The Bank of Washington has loaned developer Paul McKee at least $34 million for his Northside Regeneration project, and possibly as much as $62 million.

The series of 17 loans from the Washington, Mo., bank was made to several of McKee’s holding companies and to Northside Regeneration between 2006 and 2012. The bank, by its own calculations, now holds more than 1,500 parcels as collateral, or about 78 percent of Northside Regeneration’s real estate in St. Louis.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

It was a much different scene than 11 months ago at 9420 West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson.

The parking lot of the former QuikTrip was ground zero for protests in the days following Michael Brown’s death on August 9. The burned-out shell of the store and graffiti was a reminder of the looting and violence that descended on the street.

(courtesy of Roberto Garcia)

The entrepreneurs in this summer’s Arch Grants recipients group come from a wide range of backgrounds.

(You can see the list of 11 grant winners here.)

Since its launch in 2012 the not-for-profit organization has given equity-free grants of $50,000 to 66 startups, for a total of more $3.65 million. Executive Director Ginger Imster said this class is among the most diverse. She said nine of the 11 startups are minority or women-led.

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis is a step closer to getting a $20 million loan to help it buy land at the proposed National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency site on the north side.

The Board of Aldermen’s Housing, Urban Development and Zoning committee voted for the measure 5- 4 on Friday. Yet some committee members expressed concern about paying the area’s largest land owner, developer Paul McKee, for the property.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Developer Paul McKee of St. Louis is losing control of another project.

A federal judge has ordered that a receiver be put in charge of McKee’s Three Springs at Shiloh development in St. Clair County, Illinois.

The 193-acre development was supposed to include a mix of retail, office and residential buildings in Shiloh. The site has mostly sat empty.

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis is estimating it will cost $130 million to bring the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to the north side.

The figure was released Wednesday during a meeting of the Board of Aldermen’s Housing, Urban Development and Zoning committee. That money would come primarily from city and state sources, although those were not made public.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Several of Paul McKee’s properties within the proposed footprint of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency were sold at auction on Tuesday.

The company that put the 46 parcels on the auction block - Titan Fish Two - had the winning bid of $3.2 million. It’s the same company that filed suit against McKee’s Northside Regeneration in April, claiming it’s owed more than $17 million over defaulted loans.

(image from GEO St. Louis)

The city of St. Louis is considering taking out a loan of up to $20 million to help buy land for the proposed north city site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

bill, sponsored by 5th Ward Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard, outlines how the city would use three buildings as collateral for the loan. The bill was introduced to the Board of Aldermen on Friday.

Eleven businesses have been named recipients in the latest round of the Arch Grants Global Startup Competition.

The $50,000 grants are equity-free. The entrepreneurs will also receive support services from Arch Grants and its donors.

Executive Director Ginger Imster said this round includes a mix of tech, consumer products and even manufacturing.

"That is so essential to our regional economy," she said. "We want to always be seeding a diversified regional economy."

Of the 11 startups, Imster said 80 percent are minority or women-led: 

Paul McKee, NGA
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis wants the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to relocate to the north side of the city. In order to make it a viable option, the city is hustling to buy all 100 acres in the proposed footprint just north of the former Pruitt-Igoe housing project site.

Yet more than half of the property is owned by developer Paul McKee’s Northside Regeneration, which received significant state tax subsidization to acquire the land.

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