Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Wayne Pratt

Reporter / Newscaster

Wayne Pratt is a veteran journalist who has made stops at radio stations, wire services and websites throughout North America. He comes to St. Louis Public Radio from Indianapolis, where he was Assistant Managing Editor at www.insideindianabusiness.com. Wayne also launched a local news operation at NPR member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana and spent time as a correspondent for a network of more than 800 stations. His career has included positions in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Ontario and Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne grew up near Ottawa, Ontario and moved to the United States in the mid-90s on a dare. Soon after, he met his wife and has been in the U.S. ever since.

Amazon's shipping operation, known as a "wish fulfillment center,'' in Edwardsville.
File photo | Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 1:15 p.m. with St. Louis's regional bid - St. Louis area leaders are taking a regional approach to attracting Amazon's second North American headquarters. They submitted a bid Thursday, which was the deadline set by the online retailer.  Financial details have not been released. Officials cite a non-disclosure agreement among Amazon, local governments, and states hoping to land the $5 billion investment.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

If you've been waiting to walk around the gate areas of St. Louis Lambert International Airport with a beer or cocktail, you need to continue to exercise patience. The process to revise alcohol permits allowing new state regulations to go into effect is not yet complete.

Flight board lambert airport
Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Passengers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport are on the verge of getting more time to surf the internet for free. A plan to increase the cap on daily Wi-Fi access is expected to go into effect next month, pending approval by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The bill making its way through City Hall increases the free daily limit to an hour, instead of the current 20 minutes. The change has been prompted by travelers, who want more time online before they have to start paying.

Barge traffic along the Mississippi plays a key role in the U.S. economy.
File photo

Some heavy equipment is pounding away this week at the rock in a section of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the removal is essential to keeping cargo moving along the river. Crews are working this week at Thebes, Illinois, near Cape Girardeau.

Shipping on the Mississippi is vital to the U.S. economy. A Corps spokesman said more than 100 million tons of cargo, including 60 percent of the nation's agricultural exports, move along the river every year. And the engineers have a responsibility to keep the shipping channel at least 9-feet deep and 300-feet wide.

Amazon is searching for a second corporate headquarters to go along with its operation in Seattle. The current headquarters campus in that city includes 33 buidlings covering 8.1 million square feet.
Amazon.com/pr

With St. Louis and St. Clair County planning to jump into the battle to become Amazon's second North American headquarters, many people are asking if the region has a legitimate shot to land an anticipated 50,000 jobs. Bigger cities including Chicago, Boston and Toronto have also shown interest, but the author of what might be the definitive book on how Amazon does business believes it's too soon to rule out any potential location.

The Mississippi River as seen Sept. 13, 2017, from the Four Seasons Hotel in Laclede's Landing at St. Louis.
Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

Leaders of Mississippi River communities want to update and upgrade their infrastructure, but said Wednesday they’ll need outside financial help.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative held its annual meeting in St. Louis. About 30 mayors were there to talk about how their communities can survive natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The mayors also discussed strategies for attracting private investments for city improvements.

The Fashion Incubator takes up 7,500 square-feet of a Washington Avenue building on what used to be known as Shoe Street USA.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Aug. 28 with resignation of Fashion Fund's executive director - The St. Louis Fashion Fund is looking for a new executive director. Eric Johnson has resigned after roughly a year-and-a-half on the job. A statement from the nonprofit says Johnson is leaving to pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Wanamaker Trophy outside the gates of Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country. The trophy goes to the winner of the annual PGA Championship. The 100th edition of the tournament is next year at Bellerive.
100th PGA Championship.

A major sporting event in St. Louis next summer will give the region worldwide attention. The 100th PGA Championship will take place at Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country.

The PGA's tournament director, Barry Deach, has set up office at the club. He recently spoke about the potential impact, preparations, partnerships and how the event goes beyond the course, thanks to initiatives that will benefit the community for several years.

WOW air, which will start flights in St. Louis next year, was launched in 2011by Icelandic entrepreneur Skúli Mogensen.
BriYYZ | Flickr

The St. Louis region is about to get a direct link to Reykjavik. Iceland-based WOW air will begin four flights a week between St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Keflavik International Airport in May. From there, passengers can go on to European cities including Berlin, Paris, and London.

The city of St. Clair, Missouri, is issuing permits to help keep some order when it comes to parking as thousands arrive for the eclipse.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Jason Alexander's family has owned the Budget Lodging Hotel in St. Clair, Missouri, for nearly three decades. During that time, only one event has sparked a customer to book a room years in advance.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:45 p.m. Aug. 16 with a statement from Uber — Uber and Lyft will now be able to pick up passengers at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed all voted on Wednesday to authorize permits for ride-hailing companies, which cost $15,000 for two years.

Metro's newly-renovated downtown transit center will include round-the-clock security inside the new commuter waiting area.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Safety improvements and better bus access are some of the key components of the newly-renovated Civic Center Transit facility across from Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis.

Metro is taking the wraps off the $10.5 million project this week. The center had been home to nine MetroBus bays for a total of 16 routes. The renovation increases the number of buses that will converge at 14th and Spruce.

"18 total bays, 23 bus routes. The opportunity for para-transit - the Call-A-Ride vans- to come in and out," Metro Executive Director Ray Friem told St. Louis Public Radio.

Emily Lohse-Busch received her M.B.A. from DePaul University and launched a strategic communications business in Chicago.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The new executive director of an initiative designed to attract startups to the St. Louis area brings a mix of national and local experiences to the position.

Emily Lohse-Busch recently took the helm of Arch Grants after serving as a senior director with Global Impact, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that supports international nonprofit groups. She also worked for a consulting firm in Chicago, specializing in dealing with the nonprofit sector. 

A bartender pours a beer at Charleville Brewing Co. & Tavern on June 27, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Linking modern-day St. Louis to the region's brewing heritage has become a priority for the St. Louis Brewers Guild. Plans are in the very early stages, but the organization is trying to launch a museum to highlight the connection between the city and breweries.

"The logical big-picture idea is to have a brick and mortar that functions as basically a welcome center for the entire brewing industry," Guild Executive Director Troika Brodsky told St. Louis Public Radio.

Most of the operations at Granite City Steel were put on hold in early 2016.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

 

Updated July 27 with comments from U.S. Steel CEO - New leadership at U.S. Steel is linking the outcome of a federal trade case to the potential resumption of steel-making at the company's Granite City plant.  Chief Executive Officer David Burritt says strong action by the Trump administration following a probe into unfairly-priced steel imports could lead to further revival of the Metro East operation.

About 20 students took part in CAIR-Missouri's first self-defense class in May.
CAIR-Missouri via Facebook

With members of the area Muslim community feeling like they are under a continuing threat of violence, the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is coordinating efforts for members to protect themselves.

A bartender pours a beer at Charleville Brewing Co. & Tavern on June 27, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The popularity of craft beer is helping urban neighborhoods throughout the country that had been written off, including some in the shadow of beer giant Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis. Those who are heavily-involved in the city's beer scene hold up Urban Chestnut's foray into The Grove and Schlafly's opening in Maplewood as prime examples of how a brewery can become a key element of a community and lead to a revival.

James Hodgkinson of Belleville protests outside of the United States Post Office in downtown Belleville in this file photo from 2012.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News Democrat

 

Updated June 14 at 1:10 p.m. with comment from lifelong acquaintance -  Metro East residents are coming to terms with the notion that one of their neighbors has been identified as the shooter at a Congressional Republican baseball practice Wednesday morning in suburban Washington, D.C.  

Many national media outlets are quoting unnamed federal law enforcement officials as saying the gunman was James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger take questions after announcing their support for a task force to examine government spending.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Top elected officials in St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis itself pledged Monday to cooperate on several issues, but stopped short of suggesting a full-fledged merger of governments. 

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and County Executive Steve Stenger said they support establishing a task force that will be charged with finding ways to make area governments operate more efficiently. The task force will be part of Better Together, a nonprofit organization supported by financier Rex Sinquefield that focuses on examining whether the city and county should combine areas of government.

The summit gives entrepreneurs with big ideas to chance to connect directly to advisers who have been through the startup process and investors who are looking for the next big thing. This discussion took place at the 2016 event.
Missouri Venture Forum

Investors and entrepreneurs from throughout the region are gathering in St. Louis today for what organizers are describing as a "boot camp" for startups. The Missouri Venture Forum is organizing the summit designed to help people who have an idea, but no concept of how to launch a company. The group’s president says it helps strengthen the region’s startup sector and emulate some hotbeds that took years to develop.

St. Louis-based Express Scripts has announced a new initiative to combat opioid abuse. June 7, 2017
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based pharmacy benefits management company Express Scripts is tackling the opioid crisis.
 
The company announced an initiative Wednesday to more than 600 clients gathered in Dallas for an annual Express Scripts conference. The program focuses on limiting exposure to the painkillers and gives patients access to specialty-pharmacists to make sure the drugs are used properly. 

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Even though the Missouri legislature has passed a bill that essentially blocks the city of St. Louis from raising its minimum wage, economists are weighing in on how the region could be affected by increasing that rate to $10 an hour.

The legislation is awaiting Gov. Eric Greitens signature and St. Louis Federal Reserve Regional Economist Charles Gascon has co-written a research paper in an attempt to examine several questions, including exactly how many city residents would be directly affected by allowing the city's minimum wage to go up.

House for sale
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The St. Louis County Assessor's office has started informal conferences with property owners concerned their taxes are too high.

Assessor Jake Zimmerman says the average county property value has gone up roughly 7 percent, compared to the last review a couple of years ago. He attributes the increase, in part, to a hotter real estate market, with properties selling faster and for more money.  

St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson answers questions during a news conference following the filing of a lawsuit against the city's so-called abortion sanctuary ordinance.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Archdiocese of St. Louis and the city are in a legal showdown over new provisions in St. Louis' anti-discrimination law regarding women's reproductive decisions. The archdiocese's schools and a private company, O'Brien Industrial Holdings, on Monday in federal court filed a lawsuit challenging a St. Louis ordinance that they say adds abortion rights supporters to a protected class, while discriminating those who are against abortions.

Crews remove hundreds of sandbags Sunday morning at the Steak 'n Shake in Valley Park. The city's mayor tells St. Louis Public Radio the sand wall at the fastfood restaurant near I-44 and Route 141 did not hold during last week's flood.
Wayne Pratt| St. Louis Public Radio

"I'm just happy the residents are back in their homes."

That is how Valley Park Mayor Mike Pennise summed up several days of battling the rising Meramec River, west of St. Louis. He issued a mandatory evacuation order for part of the city of roughly 7,000 last week as residents and emergency officials prepared for a second round of major flooding in roughly a year and a half.

Waters continue to rise around I-55 near Butler Hill on Wednesday morning. May 2017
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 4 at 7 p.m. with information about West Alton — Officials with the Rivers Pointe Fire Protection District are urging residents east of Highway 67 in West Alton who plan to evacuate, particularly those who are elderly or have a disability, to do so immediately. Those planning to ride out the flooding, officials said in a Facebook post, should secure provisions.

Arnold residents pile sandbags over a manhole to try to prevent sewage from mixing with floodwater. May 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A second round of heavy rain rolled through the already soaked and flooded St. Louis metro area Wednesday, leading to longer school closures and heightened worries among affected residents.

Up to 4 inches of rain is expected through Thursday evening, further frustrating travelers who rely on two major interstates in the area. Even so, rivers in the area are forecast to crest Wednesday.

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 26 with city of St. Louis' statement and state legislation status:

 

The city of St. Louis expects to increase its minimum wage within the next few days. It is waiting for an injunction to be lifted now that the Missouri Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider an earlier ruling that allowed the city to establish a higher rate that the state of Missouri. In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Lyda Krewson said the decision is a "win for our city's working families."

Centene groundbreaking, Clayton, April 21, 2017
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Centene has taken another big step in expanding its downtown Clayton headquarters. The managed care company for Medicaid recipients held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the $770 million project.

The event featured officials from throughout the region, including new St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and Missouri Gov. Eric Grietens. While preliminary work on the project has been underway for months, Friday marked the ceremonial start of construction.

Consumer groups claim measures of the Illinois Statehouse could mean the end of traditional landline service. AT&T says it's part of the ongoing shift to modern technology, which is reliable.
tylerdurden1 | Flickr

Consumer rights groups in Illinois are leading the opposition to proposals before the state legislature that they say could end traditional landline phone service. They claim AT&T wants to shift customers to more expensive plans. But the telecommunications company says that conclusion is not accurate.

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