Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

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

 

Hundreds of Metro East steel workers are still waiting to be called back to the job in Granite City. U.S. Steel idled the plant in early 2016 and there is no indication of when the company will resume full operations. 

United Steelworkers officials are organizing a rally Thursday to bring attention to what the union calls unfair international trade practices and the plight of members who have been out of work for more than a year.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport doesn’t have the crowded terminals of a hub, but things have been looking up.

Last year, nearly 14 million passengers came through the airport, a 10 percent increase over 2016 and the most passengers since 2008.

“We’re pretty pleased with the direction,” said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

The numbers poured in at a recent Airport Commission meeting.

Kimberly Springer, St. Louis Public Radio's Engagement Producer, discussed the world of virtual reality in journalism on Behind the Headlines.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This week, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh took a look at the burgeoning field of virtual reality from a business perspective. On Friday's "Behind the Headlines," St. Louis Public Radio Engagement Producer Kimberly Springer brought a journalistic perspective to the discussion.

The former Buster Brown Blue Ribbon building is slated for demolition as part of the development project for the NGA. It sits just north of Cass and Jefferson avenues
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Premier Demolition, a local minority union contractor, has been awarded a $311,000 demolition contract to help pave the way for construction of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency West campus on the near north side of St. Louis, the mayor’s office stated on Friday.

Premier will demolish the Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory, a building constructed around 1900 when St. Louis was one of the nation’s largest shoe manufacturing cities. Pre-demolition began this week.

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.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

A report from a national organization is recognizing BioSTL as a model for other cities looking to build on their own industrial and research strengths.

The Initiative for Competitive Inner Cities’ report “Building Strong Clusters for Strong Urban Economies” focuses on four case studies from cities around the country.

has eight KC-135 Stratotankers. The planes can carry 33,000 gallons of fuel. June 2017
Maria Altman, | St. Louis Public Radio

The steel gray KC-135 Stratotankers are massive.

The Boeing jets, first deployed way back in 1956, can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo with the thrust of four turbofan engines.

The plane is also capable of carrying 33,000 gallons of fuel and off-loading it in mid-air.

That’s the primary mission of the Illinois Air National Guard’s 126th Air Refueling Wing, assigned to Scott Air Force Base, near Belleville.

Stephanie Leffler is CEO of OneSpace, which connects workers and employers for short-term contract work. Miriam Cherry is a professor at SLU Law School who studies the gig economy and the rights of worker's and employers.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The “gig economy” is growing with an estimated 20 to 30 percent of American and European working-age population participating in some kind of independent work.

Defined as “a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs,” we spoke with two local experts about how the gig economy is at play in the St. Louis region on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air.

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.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

MetroLink trains whisked by in the background as officials gathered to break ground on a new light rail station in the Cortex Innovation District.

The new $12.6 million station will be located on the east side of Boyle Ave. It’s expected to be completed in about a year.

Cortex President and CEO Dennis Lower said having a stop will allow the district’s 4,500 employees to get to work without cars and allow business partners to come straight from the airport.

“All of that is important with the technology community and that we work with every day,” Lower said.

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. 

Customers line up outside Crown Candy Kitchen, which sits across from 2720 N. 14th Street. (June 5, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Some lucky St. Louisan is one step closer to winning a free restaurant space in the Old North neighborhood, across from Crown Candy Kitchen.

The Fantasy Food Fare Business Competition has announced its top 10 finalists for a package worth $100,000. Lynette Watson of the St. Louis Small Business Development Center said the list represents a wide variety of concepts. (See the full list below.)

“We have everything from French fusion, all the way to desserts and soul food,” Watson said.

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.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Tax incentives in St. Louis have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, both from within city government and among citizens' groups.

Now the St. Louis Development Corporation, the agency that recommends whether a development should receive the city’s help, is proposing some reforms.

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.  

Rendering of the proposed apartment building at Clayton Avenue and Graham Street.
Courtesy of Pearl Companies

Updated with TIF Commission's vote Wednesday

A $26 million apartment building project has received the first round of approval for tax incentives from the city of St. Louis.

The Tax Increment Financing Commission approved a $3.8 million TIF for the project at Clayton Ave. and Graham St. on Wednesday. 

The International Institute in St. Louis provides integration services for more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees each year.
File photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

The International Institute of St. Louis is seeking ambassadors of sorts.

The organization that provides integration services for more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees each year is recruiting volunteers to help spread the word about how those foreign-born residents benefit the community.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is the largest local branch of any other Urban League in the country.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sheila Beckham’s house was leaking heat last winter, she thought back to when her great-grandfather repaired his home.

“I remembered that the Urban League came and fixed his doors and the windows, and they were still in the same place, so I figured they could help me too,” said Beckham, a lifelong St. Louis resident. “They came to my house and helped me with my windows and doors too, got me a water heater and a furnace.”

Courtesy of Scott Air Force Base

Back in 1917, it was known as Scott Field.

The U.S. had just entered World War I, and the War Department leased 624 acres near Belleville, Illinois, to help train pilots to send to Europe. The field was named after Cpl. Frank Scott, the first enlisted service member to be killed in an aviation crash. 

Today, Scott Air Force Base covers more than 3,500 acres and employs 13,000 military and civilian service members. It’s also home to more than 30 mission partners, including the U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command and the 18th Air Force.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s the chicken or the egg argument.

Should city aldermen meet with stakeholders and then craft a bill? Or should the bill be proposed and then brought to the public for input?

St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, 15th Ward, prefers the first approach when it comes to developing Community Benefits Agreements legislation.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 15 with comments from Gov. Greitens — Governor Eric Greitens says the Missouri Partnership will be funded.

The business recruiting arm of the state was expected to get $2.25 million in state funding, but Missouri legislators eliminated the line item completely in the budget for next fiscal year.

Boeing's T-X could mean 1,800 direct and in-direct jobs in St. Louis, should the Air Force award the contract to the company. May 2017
Provided | Boeing

Boeing officials announced Monday the company’s decision to assemble the T-X training jet in St. Louis, meaning approximately 1,800 direct and in-direct jobs for the region.

But those jobs depend on whether the U.S. Air Force gives Boeing and Saab the contract later this year. Lockheed Martin and the Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50A and the Italian company Leonardo along with its U.S. subsidiary DRS are also competing for the aircraft, which will replace the T-38.

Elected officials, including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, pledged support to help Boeing win the bid.

The Wealth Accumulation Center is located at 2828 Gravois Ave., and is a partnerships between Prosperity Connection and the St. Louis Community Credit Union. May 2017
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The Wealth Accumulation Center is focused on helping low-income St. Louis residents with their finances.

The new building at 2828 Gravois Ave., in the Benton Park neighborhood, combines traditional banking, a short-term lender and financial education. It’s the latest collaboration between the St. Louis Community Credit Union and Prosperity Connection.

39 North Master Plan, Ayers Saint Gross

The public can hear more about plans for 39 North, the 600-acre plant science innovation district in Creve Coeur, on Thursday night.

The Danforth Center is hosting the discussion, which will include panelists Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz, Travis Sheridan,  CIC Venture Café Global Institute President, and Sheila Sweeney,  St. Louis Economic Development Partnership CEO .

Revelers crowd Cherokee Street at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2016.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

“It was the wildest Cinco de Mayo party I have ever experienced,” recalled Angel Jimenez-Gutierrez remembering his first May 5 in Missouri.

It was 2002 and he was working at a Mexican restaurant in Rock Hill. Jimenez-Gutierrez had just moved to the United States from Mexico where Cinco de Mayo has never been widely celebrated.

St. Louis' Civil Courthouse - May 2017
Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

Businesses in St. Louis will have to pay their employees at least $10 an hour starting Friday, rather than the state's minimum of $7.70.

A circuit court judge lifted an injunction against a city ordinance on Thursday, a little over a week after the Missouri Supreme Court declined to reconsider its February ruling upholding the law

Dan Lauer, Allison Bischoff and Brian Dixon joined St. Louis on the Air to talk about entrepreneurship in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A new business accelerator program seeks to put entrepreneurs on a fast track to advancing innovative energy solutions.

The application deadline to the competitive Ameren Accelerator program is May 12th.

Each year for the next three years, five to seven recipients will receive office space in the Cortex Innovation Community and $100,000 in exchange for 8 percent equity in the company – all told, about $1 million in perks and benefits that are part of the highly structured 12-week program.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis citizens group wants the city to be more transparent when it comes to tax incentives.

Team TIF is asking the city's Board of Aldermen to pass three proposals and has even drafted the language:

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