Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Melody Walker

Economic Development Reporter

Long-time public radio listeners may remember hearing Melody Walker sign off from Paris in the 1980’s where she covered arts, politics, gastronomy, exiled dictators, and terrorist attacks for six years. She returned to WNYC (where she had her first job as a reporter while a student at Barnard College) and became producer of the Leonard Lopate Show and a newsroom reporter. Soon after Marketplace launched, Melody was tapped to run the business show’s New York Bureau. She continued to work for Marketplace as a freelancer in Chicago and contributed to WBEZ community coverage before another stint in Paris just in time to report on the Euro’s debut and the French reaction to the events of 9/11. After more than a decade ensconced in academic ivory towers as a public affairs and communications director, Melody is thrilled to be back in the newsroom as the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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Globalhack VII tackles challenges faced by local agencies that serve immigrant community.
Globalhack

Globalhack VII, a 48-hour hack-athon, returns to the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus this weekend with the goal to develop software to aid local agencies that serve immigrant and refugee communities in the region.

Matt Menietti, executive director of Globalhack, calls the event a “civic tech project.” More than 700 hackers are expected to participate in the event with $100,000 in prizes to be awarded to the best software solutions on Sunday.

St. Louis civic leaders, members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Holdings, and World Wide Technology Jim Kavanaugh announced plans to form a bid to attract a Major League Soccer expansion team in St. Louis. Oct. 9, 2018.
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at Oct. 9 at 4:50 p.m with comments from Major League Soccer —St. Louis is launching a new bid to attract a Major League Soccer team.

Members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Holdings, are joining World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh to form the bid for an MLS expansion team.

Members of National Association of Letter Carriers rallied against privatization of the U.S. Postal Service in cities around the country including St. Louis on Monday.
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Wearing bright blue T-shirts with the slogan “U.S. Mail — Not for Sale,” about 80 postal workers gathered Monday in downtown St. Louis.

They joined postal workers across the country rallying against a plan floated by the Trump administration to privatize the U.S. Postal Service.

Building boom and workforce shortage combine to create a crisis in construction industry
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

The workforce shortage in the construction industry is not going away.

A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 80 percent of Midwest contractors report difficulty finding skilled workers. And, nearly half of the companies surveyed expect hiring is going to get harder over the next year.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Michael R. Allen | Flickr

A few dozen residents gathered in a hearing room at City Hall Wednesday for an unusual nighttime hearing on a proposed bill that would require a city-wide public vote on any deals to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

It was the first of three hearings held by the Board of Aldermen’s Transportation and Commerce Committee.

STL Fashion startups face tariffs on Chinese imports
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

The burgeoning St. Louis fashion industry is bracing for the impact of the latest tariffs on goods from China.

Handbags, backpacks, luggage, hats and baseball gloves are just a few of the thousands of products covered in the latest round of U.S. tariffs imposed on goods imported from China. The 10 percent tax went into effect Sept. 24 and it will increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

Experts say consumers should expect to see higher prices before the end of the year.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

The news that her Shop 'n Save in Shrewsbury will soon transform into a Schnucks wasn’t welcomed by LaDonna Slovensky.

“If it’s going to be a Schnucks, I probably won’t shop here,” the Affton resident said as she unloaded groceries from a shopping cart into her car. “I’ve always been partial to Shop 'n Save. I’ll probably find another place to shop. Schnucks is a little too expensive for me.”

After many delays, the city's contract with consultants to explore the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport may be official soon.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A group working with FLY 314, the non-profit overseeing the possible lease of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, plans to knock on 100,000 doors to survey city residents about the airport.

The goal is to get 20,000 residents, representing all of the city’s wards, to answer a 23-question survey. The questions have not been made public, but there is an interactive map indicating where canvassers have been and how many doors they have knocked on in each ward.

Microsoft Technology Center opens in Cortex Innovation Community
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

There have been many ribbon cuttings in the Cortex district this year. The debut of a new MetroLink station, a new building called Innovation Hall and the Aloft Hotel groundbreaking were big events, to name a few. But Wednesday's ribbon cutting at the Microsoft Technology Center had politicians, entrepreneurs and techies buzzing more than usual.

The $50 million, 30,000-square-foot center occupies the entire fifth floor of the new Innovation Hall on Duncan Avenue.  The software giant chose St. Louis to join an elite group of 50 cities around the world to lay claim to one of its tech centers. There are only 15 located in the U.S.

Shop 'n Save stores sold to Schnucks in St. Louis region
photo credit|Paul Sableman, Flickr, Creative Commons

Shop ‘n Save is checking out of the grocery-store business in the St. Louis region.

Schnucks Markets is purchasing 19 area Shop 'n Save groceries owned by parent company SuperValu and will rebrand them as Schnucks stores. The remaining 17 Shop 'n Save locations will close if SuperValu is unable to find a buyer by the end of the year.

The acquisition will boost the number of Schnucks grocery stores by 20 percent. Fifteen of the stores include pharmacies, which will also be purchased and run by Schnucks.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Denver-based Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator is expanding its program to St. Louis to support startups doing research in food, water and energy shortages.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will partner with the incubator, called IN2, to provide research labs and support for early stage startups.

IN2 was created in 2014 to support the development and commercialization of energy-related technology through early stage startups.

STL Not for Sale, grassroots group hold press conference at City Hall Sept. 13, 2018
photo credit | Melody Walker

A grassroots group called STL Not For Sale is criticizing an outreach campaign conducted by a team exploring privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The group held a press conference Thursday on the steps of City Hall to protest what it says is a push for privatization. Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, said she learned about the door-to-door effort from her constituents.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

More than 400 researchers, entrepreneurs and investors are expected to attend Ag Innovation Showcase this week, the 10th year it’s been hosted by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

The three-day event has been described as part research conference, part Shark Tank competition, where startups pitch the latest technology to improve crop yields that are safe for farmers, consumers and the environment.

SLCD proposes SUD for NGA.
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

Residents gathered Wednesday night at Vashon High School to hear about a proposal for a Special Use District surrounding the future site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.

It was the second of two public meetings organized this month by the St. Louis Development Corporation’s Project Connect to discuss the proposal.

SLU students conduct archeological dig on campus before new center for science and engineering is built.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

In a race against the bulldozers and cranes, a Saint Louis University history professor and a handful of students are conducting an archeological dig in the middle of campus.

It’s unlikely they will be able to excavate deep or wide enough to find evidence of an early Civil War encampment that once occupied the site, but Tom Finan, assistant professor of history and archeologist, doesn’t like to give up hope.  

“I can’t help but think with 800 men living here for a month and using the Mill Creek that ran through here, that something wouldn’t be left behind,” he said.

Express Scripts headquarters
Express Scripts

The merger between Express Scripts and Cigna won approval from shareholders of both companies on Friday.

The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of combining Express Scripts, the St. Louis-based pharmacy benefit management company, and the Connecticut-based health service corporation.

Cigna made its $67 billion cash and stock offer in March. Following shareholder approval, the merger agreement will be reviewed by the Department of Justice, and barring any anti-trust complications, could be approved by the end of this year.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway releases audit of state's 400 Community Improvement Districts CIDs
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was in St. Louis Thursday to present her report on more than 400 Community Improvement Districts around the state.

The first-ever audit of the special tax districts, better known as CIDs, found a general lack of accountability and failure to comply with state laws regarding budget preparation, annual financial and performance reporting, annual meetings and the Sunshine Law.

Sign at the main entrance to the old Monsanto headquarters reads Bayer Crop Sciences as of August 21, 2018
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The sign at Monsanto’s former headquarters now says Bayer.

This week, Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto officially got underway. While the $66-billion deal was completed in June, the companies had to clear some antitrust hurdles before they could integrate and get down to business.

The North American Crop Science Division of Bayer is now headquartered in St. Louis.

“I’ll be the first to tell you, there will be changes,” said Brett Begemann, a 35-year Monsanto veteran and newly named chief operating officer of the Crop Science Division of Bayer.

Construction continues on the 802,000-square-foot replacement hospital and outpatient care center for SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Aug 16, 2018
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

The construction industry is booming. Nationally, employment in the sector increased by 303,000 over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, according to an analysis of the latest government data by the Associated General Contractors of America Association.

In the St. Louis region, contractors and unions report they are near full-employment, but a shortage of next generation tradesmen and women is making recruitment a top priority for many local construction companies.

SLDC launches town hall meetings on August 14, 2018
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Development Corporation has kicked off a campaign of town hall meetings aimed at improving its public image.

SLDC executive director Otis Williams on Tuesday told an audience at the LaunchCode headquarters on Delmar Boulevard, in the Fountain Park neighborhood, “We want to become more transparent.”

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