Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

News about the economy, business, and innovation happening in the St. Louis region.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Many federal workers in the St. Louis Region are dipping into their savings and cutting spending as they cope with uncertainty from the partial government shutdown.

That includes air traffic controllers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

“We’re toughing it out,” said Allison Schwaegel who heads the local chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Sam O'Keefe | Missouri S&T

A team at Missouri University of Science and Technology has received a $1 million grant to research better kinds of cyber security.

They aren’t looking to stop outside hackers — they want to stop threats from the inside.

Facilities and systems like power grids, water plants and driverless cars could all benefit from the research funded by the National Science Foundation.

Shop 'n Save closed this store in Nov. 2018
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Most city and suburban dwellers take the convenience of a local grocery store for granted.

But many residents of Spanish Lake don’t have that luxury any more. When three nearby Shop ‘n Save stores closed in November, it left shoppers fewer options and created what the USDA classifies as a food desert.

Spanish Lake is in the northeast corner of unincorporated St. Louis County. The cities of Florissant and Ferguson are on its west side; the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are on the east.

The west St. Louis County municipality of Crystal Lake Park secured a grant from a Missouri Secretary of State program to digitize more than 2,000 documents, dating back roughly 50 years. Jan. 11, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A small community in west St. Louis County has just completed the first part of a project to help preserve its history.

Crystal Lake Park, which borders Frontenac, Town and Country and Des Peres, secured a grant from the Missouri Secretary of State’s Local Records Preservation Program to digitize more than 2,000 documents, dating back roughly 50 years.

Protesters gather in front of the USDA Rural Development building on Goodfelow Blvd to protest the government shutdown on  January 8, 2019.ed
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Military veterans who work for the federal government are among the federal employees facing the loss of their first January paychecks due to the partial government shutdown which started Dec. 21.

A report from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management estimates that about one-third of federal employees are veterans. Although the exact number of local veterans who are government workers is unclear, a number of St. Louis-area veterans work for agencies like the National Park Service and the Transportation Security Administration.

Flight board lambert airport
File photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Several members of the city’s Transportation and Commerce Committee say they feel they have been kept in the dark when it comes to details on the Airport Working Group’s progress.

Two members of the group attended the Transportation and Commerce Committee meeting in City Hall today to deliver an update on the work completed so far by the large cadre of consultants who launched the airport privatization exploration process in August 2018.

Even breweries are feeling the pinch of the partial federal government shutdown.  

“The regulating body that we have to submit all of our labels to, to get approved by is shut down,” says James Stutsman, founder of City Barrel Brewing.

Stutsman shared his story on KCUR's Central Standard Wednesday.

Nashville-based Contour Airlines will start serving the regional airport at Fort Leonard Wood with 30-seat jets on Feb. 12.

That will be a upgrade from Cape Air, the current provider, and its nine-seat turbo-prop planes that have been flying out of the airport for the past eight years.

And the ninth passenger seat was actually the unused co-pilot’s seat.

Rural Areas Drive Airbnb Growth In Missouri

Jan 6, 2019

Airbnb hosts brought in more than $48 million in 2018, a 67% increase over the previous year. The company notes rural areas had particularly strong growth.

Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said hosts welcomed 480,000 guests and earned an average of $5,500 a year. 

While the company grew in large cities, Breit said the strongest growth was in smaller towns.

He pointed to places like Barry County in southwest Missouri, which saw more than 2,000 Airbnb guests last year. 

Sweeney is out, Crim is in as CEO of STL Partnership
Provided | St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

Sheila Sweeney is out, and Rodney Crim is in as interim CEO at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

"Our board has determined that a new direction is necessary to fulfill our mission of building this region’s economic engine," said Karlos Ramirez, partnership board chairman, in a statement released today.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal employees throughout metro St. Louis are feeling the brunt of the partial government shutdown two weeks in, as agencies and departments have placed workers on furlough or have required them to work without pay.

In metro St. Louis, the shutdown includes the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the National Park Service (NPS).

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

An early stage venture fund in downtown St. Louis is continuing to go global.

SixThirty, which launched in 2013 and invests in up to 12 startups a year, will formally announce this month that it’s opening a European office. It will be followed by a similar announcement in another part of the world.

MidContinent Steel and Wire company impacted by tariffs on imported steel.
Mid Continent Steel and Wire

Trump-administration tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imposed last June were intended to boost U.S. production, create jobs and investment in American manufacturing. The impact has been just the opposite at the Mid Continent Steel and Wire company in southeast Missouri.

“We are suffering,” said Chris Pratt, Mid Continent’s general operations manager. “Our company is losing money every month, our employment is down 200 employees since June, and our sales are off 60 percent.”

The 70 Grand bus stops near St. Louis University in December 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

2018 marked big changes for transit in St. Louis.

As in years past, metro St. Louisans bid a fond farewell to a number of businesses and eateries in 2018.

Call it the circle of life for business. Some enterprises will thrive and survive for years, while others fall victim to changing business models, unaffordable overhead costs, changing tastes and other slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

We decided to round up a number of metro St. Louis closings, some more publicized than others, that happened in 2018.

Building boom can be measured in number of cranes in the sky.
Chris Stritzel City Scene

St. Louis has had a banner year for construction in 2018. The number of building permits issued was up in 17 of the city's 28 wards. The value of new projects totals more than $1 billion, and dozens of projects are on the drawing board, or ready to break ground, in 2019.

The Missouri state minimum wage will increase from $7.85 an hour to $8.60, after voters approved Proposition B in November.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The new year means an increase to Missouri's minimum wage, but not all business owners are on board.

Starting Jan. 1, the minimum wage will increase from $7.85 an hour to $8.60. The raise comes after voters approved Proposition B in November, which calls for boosting the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. Although Prop B passed by a wide margin, business owners remain divided over whether the increase will ultimately benefit Missouri workers.

Jim Weddle retires as Edward Jones managing partner on Dec. 31.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Weddle, managing partner of Edward Jones, retires Dec. 31, after spending his entire 40-plus year career with the financial services company. Edward Jones is one of the St. Louis area’s largest employers.

Weddle, who has led the company for about 13 years, said now is the right time to step aside, even as the company’s succession planning requires that partners retire by the end of the year they turn 65. He is 65.

Evelyn Fluellen, manager of Neighbors' Market, helps Chestina Taylor, left, pick out meat at the East St. Louis grocery store on Dec. 18, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Neighbors' Market grocery store opened its doors in October, filling an unmet need in East St. Louis.

The full-service grocery store has fresh produce, healthy food options and ready-to-go, prepared meals like sandwiches, soups and salads. The market has even partnered with local businesses to sell their products.

Drivers are in for a treat at the gas pump this month as prices drop due to a market surplus and weak demand. | Flickr

Gas prices have been falling from coast to coast this month, but none are as low as in Missouri. AAA reports the average cost per gallon of regular fuel in the Show-Me State is $1.89, compared to $2.20 a year ago.

Missouri also has one of the lowest state gas tax rates in the country. According to the American Petroleum Institute. Only Alaska has a lower state gas tax than Missouri’s 17.35 cents per gallon. When combined with the recent drop in crude oil prices, Missouri consumers are expected to cruise through the end of the year on the cheapest gas around.