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

Cortex,
(courtesy TechShop)

TechShop, the membership-based DIY workshop, will move into a new building when it arrives in St. Louis next year.

It had been expected to set up shop in the Brauer building at Boyle and Forest Park Avenue. But Dennis Lower, CEO and president of St. Louis’ innovation district Cortex, said after two separate assessments, it became clear renovation wasn’t economically viable.

"We tried valiantly to save it, but we couldn’t," he said.

The proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency | provided

A proposed location for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis drew criticism from residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

The north side location is one of four possible sites the NGA is considering for relocation.

CoderGirl, LaunchCode, computer programming
(courtesy LaunchCode)

You're a woman with no computer coding experience? CoderGirl wants you.

CoderGirl offers free weekly meetings that are meant to bring women with an interest in computer programming together with female mentors who can guide them.

It’s the brainchild of LaunchCode, the non-profit that has been working to fill the tech-talent gap in St. Louis.

Save Our Sons, Urban League, Mike McMillan
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has launched a job training and placement program in north St. Louis County called Save Our Sons. The effort is getting serious corporate support — and a dash of Hollywood.

At a news conference Tuesday, Urban League CEO Michael McMillan announced $1.25 million in corporate donations toward the project:

Little Caesars
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

At least two funds are helping Ferguson-area businesses get back on their feet following the violence and unrest that has affected the area since August.

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

The message to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder from Ferguson: hurry up.

In an open letter to Holder sent late last month, several Ferguson business owners, residents and even the mayor urged Holder to quickly release findings from his office’s federal investigation into Michael Brown’s death.

Workers demonstrate in support of a higher minimum wage.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri’s minimum wage will go up 15 cents as of New Year’s Day.

The increase from the current $7.50 to $7.65 is the result of a 2006 ballot referendum tying the state’s minimum wage to the Midwest Consumer Price Index. It’s the second 15 cent increase in as many years.

Kristi Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

Community organizing pays off.

That’s the message in a report released Tuesday by Gamaliel, a national faith-based network with affiliates in 16 states, including Metropolitan Congregations United in the St. Louis region and United Congregations of Metro East.

utility wires, Ameren
(Flickr, sciondriver)

Ameren Missouri officials say the utility will invest $135 million in a three-year energy efficiency plan to begin in 2016.  

Ameren filed the plan with the Missouri Public Service Commission Monday. The utility said it's expected to provide more than $260 million in customer benefits over 20 years.

Ameren’s director of energy efficiency, Dan Laurent, said the plan also is expected to save about 426,000 megawatt hours.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, right, swears in the members of the commission. Nov. 19
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Three hundred people answered Gov. Jay Nixon's call to apply for the Ferguson Commission. Of those applicants and others, the governor selected 16 and announced their names on Tuesday. The group includes teachers, attorneys, community organizers, law enforcement officials and protesters from across the region. It has nine blacks and seven whites; six women and 10 men.

Greetabl, St. Louis startups, gift ideas
(courtesy greetable)

The clock is ticking on the holiday shopping season.

If you’ve still got a few people on your list, here are some unique items from young companies right here in St. Louis.

Greetabl produces colorful gift boxes that allow you to write a message, put in a small gift and either mail it or give it in person. The company, launched just last year, is among this year’s Arch Grants recipients.

gas prices, Missouri's gas prices
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s sticker shock turned upside down.

Filling up your gas tank is almost pleasant as prices at the pump continue to fall. In St. Louis on Monday, a gallon of gas averaged $2.22, but it could be found for as low as $2.07.

While the entire country is seeing lower gas prices, Missouri has averaged the lowest. The American Automobile Association listed the state’s average as $2.25 a gallon on Monday. Meanwhile the average in Illinois was $2.57; in California it was $2.87 and a whopping $2.98 in New York.

#FergusonRebuild, Cathy's Kitchen
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s Secretary of State has begun a new initiative to help businesses in the Ferguson area get back on their feet.

Jason Kander, a Democrat, is donating $25,000 from his campaign fund to kick off #FergusonRebuild. He said the campaign will also seek donations through the crowdfunding site, GoFundMe.com.

Jerome Jenkins business, Ferguson
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A private relief fund for businesses affected by the looting and violence in Ferguson will be announced Thursday.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander will be in Ferguson Thursday morning for the announcement of #FergusonRebuild. The initiative is in partnership with the Regional Business Council and North County Incorporated.

The non-governmental grants will help businesses in Ferguson, Dellwood and Jennings.

Swiish Bar and Grill
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The owners of Swiish Bar and Grill in Jennings didn’t suffer broken glass or looting during the unrest following Michael Brown’s death, but they still took a big loss.

That’s because state and local law enforcement ordered the business closed so that the police command center could be staged just outside the bar. Swiish Bar and Grill at 8021 West Florissant Ave., is just down the street from where protests were taking place in Ferguson. It remained closed for 17 days.

former MetLife/Sigma site with 101 acres
courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

If you’ve got an opinion on where the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency should move, or shouldn’t move, now is the time to speak up.

The secretive federal agency is looking at four sites around the St. Louis metropolitan area as it plans a move from its current historic campus south of downtown. A public comment period began this week and will run until January 19, including three public hearings.

Ameren Missouri

 Updated 12/4/14

Ameren's solar energy center in O'Fallon is now in service. The 19-acre operation includes 19,000 solar panels and is currently generating six megawatts of power to the company's electrical grid.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis at Locust St. and N. Broadway, circa 1924-1925 just after the building went up.
Courtesy of the St. Louis Fed

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis celebrates its centennial anniversary this year.

St. Louis was one of 12 Reserve Banks that opened for business on November 16, 1914. They were all part of the Federal Reserve System created when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law in December 1913.

Businesses along South Florissant Road continued to board up windows Tuesday afternoon.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Business owners in Ferguson are asking why the Missouri National Guard didn’t do more to protect their property Monday night.

At least a dozen small businesses along West Florissant Avenue and South Florissant Road were looted and set on fire within hours of the grand jury’s announcement. That includes Sam’s Meat Market, the store that served as a backdrop for press conference last week where business owners pleaded for peaceful protests.

Sam's Meat Market in Ferguson. November 21, 2014
Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

As the wait goes on for an announcement by the Darren Wilson grand jury, people, businesses and organizations are taking steps to prepare for possible unrest. There are random anecdotes of parents preparing to bring their children home early from school, and businesses developing plans for locking down under duress.

But there are also more concrete plans in the works.

School closings

big data
Via Monsanto

Monsanto’s subsidiary Climate Corporation, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and several other agribusiness companies and farm groups have reached an agreement on big data.

The group had been meeting for months as more and more farmers begin to use data services to help them get the most of their fields. Climate Corporation, for example, uses figures about previous crop yields, soil information and weather data to help farmers make decisions about when to plant, fertilize and harvest.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Where are the women in St. Louis’ startup scene?

It’s a question many began asking following a 2011 American Express OPEN report that ranked St. Louis last among 25 top metropolitan areas for women entrepreneurs. That same year the Kauffman Foundation released a study on overcoming the gender gap within entrepreneurship.

(courtesy Startup Connection)

The St. Louis entrepreneurial community will be on display at this year's Startup Connection at Saint Louis University on Wednesday.

The business competition and resource fair will highlight 70 startups through its venture showcase, including a session where the entrepreneurs will give elevator pitches to compete for funding.

Nineteen of the startups are vying for three Startup Challenge Awards worth a total of  $100,000. The other 51 ventures will be competing for smaller awards.

(Flickr/Tanya Monro)

As of the last U.S. Census, only 28 percent of the workforce in science and engineering was female.

The Women in Science & Entrepreneurship Conference is addressing that disparity. It aims to help women in the sciences find the right career path and go further. WISE, as the conference is being called, will take place Friday in St. Louis. The event is sold out.

Kurt Nordstrom via Flickr

It’s hardly June, but wedding vendors in Missouri are hearing from lots of couples.

Last week both a circuit court judge in St. Louis and federal judge in Kansas City found Missouri’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. As a result the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Pat Rutherford-Pettine, owner of the The Sugaree Baking Co., said she’s done wedding cakes and pies for civil unions for many years. She’s baking her first official wedding cake for a same sex couple in Missouri this week.

The former Chrysler plant in Fenton is on its way to becoming a light-industrial and office park.

KP Development, formerly known as Koman Properties, closed on the deal Wednesday for the Fenton Logistics Park. The plan calls for more than a half billion dollars of investment into the property and is projected to provide up to 3,000 jobs.

Scott Haley, KP Development’s senior vice president, said two companies are close to finalizing plans within the next few months to locate in the park. He said they include a regional and national players.

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

When you ask people what they think of Monsanto, it doesn’t take long for the four-letter word to come out.

"I hate Monsanto," Jackie King said emphatically, while shopping at the farmer’s market in Tower Grove Park.

King said she doesn’t like GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, that Monsanto helped pioneer in the 1980s. The subject of GMOs came up a lot, but shoppers at the market looking over locally-grown vegetables voiced a lot of concerns about the company, from patented seeds to its impacts on small farmers.

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto launched a new national advertising campaign Wednesday that focuses on something everyone can relate to: food.

It’s part of an effort at Monsanto to improve the St. Louis-based company’s image. Earlier this year the Harris Poll on corporate reputations ranked Monsanto third worst in the country, just behind BP.

(Flickr/Thomas Karl Gunnarsson)

When large numbers of young people are unemployed, it is not only a blow to the individuals, it is also a missed economic opportunity for the region. That was the overarching message of a panel discussion held Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and STL Youth Jobs.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that in 2012, 15 percent of people ages 16 to 24 in the U.S. were not employed, not in school or not getting job training. For each of those “detached” youth, the economy misses out on $14,000 annually.

The new Ikea store is under construction on top of a parking structure. It will also include outdoor parking.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio) / IKEA

The Ikea store in St. Louis is on track to open next fall.

Construction workers began putting up the steel frame for the 380,000 square foot store this week. The blue paneling will likely go up in December.

"That’s when the iconic blue and yellow will begin to show," said Joseph Roth, Ikea’s director of U.S. public affairs.

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