Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

People wait to enter the Check Your Blind Spot mobile museum outside the Express Scripts headquarters in St. Louis County on Monday, March 5, 2017.
Express Scripts

Dozens of people visited a mobile museum dedicated to educating the public about unconscious bias at the Express Scripts headquarters in north St. Louis County on Monday.

More than 350 corporate executives and university presidents signed a pledge to address unconscious bias in the workplace. Local leaders at Edward Jones, Reinsurance Group of America, Inc. and St. Louis-based manufacturing company Emerson are among companies who also signed the pledge.

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it’s the driest part of the state this year.

“We really haven’t really had any measurable rain since the middle of October,” says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville, north of St. Louis. “I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust.”

A boutique apartment tower going up at Euclid and West Pine avenues received tax increment financing in 2015. It sits across from a Whole Foods, which is housed on the lower level of another apartment building that received TIF. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition critical of the tax relief St. Louis awards developers wants lawmakers to make processes to grant tax incentives more transparent and more equitable.

When it started in 2016, Team TIF focused on education. But now that the public is more aware of how the city grants developers incentives, the coalition is pushing for policy changes, volunteer Molly Metzger said.

“The problems that we see in St. Louis and other cities — of racial segregation, of stark inequality — these are not created by markets alone. They are created by markets that were structured by governments,” said Metzger, a professor who studies housing policy at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger announces St. Louis County has earned Certified Work Ready Community status at a press conference on Feb. 21, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County has joined 50 other Missouri counties in receiving Certified Work Ready Community status. County officials announced the designation Wednesday, saying it highlights the county’s competitive workforce.

“A skilled workforce is the heart of a strong economy,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. “As a CWRC, St. Louis County is sending a signal to the world that our workforce is highly skilled and businesses can expect to grow and thrive here.”

 

Culinary professionals Alex Feick (at left) and Josh Charles (center) joined Sauce Magazine editor Catherine Klene to talk about how they manage demanding careers alongside parenthood and other aspects of their lives.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Like many new parents, Josh Charles sensed that a major switch had been flipped the moment his baby was born 11 months ago. He knew right away that the days ahead would look different for him, professionally speaking, than the previous decade he’d spent cooking in fine-dining kitchens.

“The typical restaurant hours were just something that I could not do anymore,” the chef said this week on St. Louis on the Air. “I had been used to working Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at minimum, and I just knew that being locked into that restaurant wasn’t going to be cohesive for the hours that I needed to be there for my family.”

Saint Louis University's School of Business will be renamed the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business after a $15 million donation from Richard A. Chaifetz and his wife Jill Chaifetz.
Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University’s School of Business will be renamed the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business. The university announced Tuesday that Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, the founder, chairman and CEO at ComPsych Corporation and his wife, Jill Chaifetz, have contributed $15 million to the school. The change is effective immediately.

Richard Chaifetz, a SLU alumnus and trustee, said while his gift contribution does not have set requirements, he hopes it will boost the reputation of the business school that is ranked ninth nationally in undergraduate entrepreneurship.

The head of the St. Louis Regional Chamber is resigning, effective at the end of the month. Joe Reagan has been president and CEO of the organization since 2012. The chamber's board already has a replacement lined up — at least on a temporary basis.

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 could bring big infrastructure changes to Missouri, but local engineering and commerce experts say it could be hard for the state to compete for federal dollars.

The budget promises to “generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment” by dedicating $200 billion over 10 years to projects like improving roads, expanding internet access in rural areas, and developing creative approaches to transit, energy, water and building. Of that, $100 billion would be awarded as competitive grants to states and local governments who pursue projects “demonstrating innovative approaches” to infrastructure.

GlobalSTL

A partnership with Washington University is bringing another Israeli startup to St. Louis.

MDClone is working with researchers at the Institute for Informatics at Washington University School of Medicine. As part of the agreement, Wash U will be the first institution outside of Israel to have access to MDClone’s health care data platform. The platform offers a solution to a key issue in health care: how to conduct research while protecting patient privacy.

HCI Alternatives in Collinsville is one of 53 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed by the State of Illinois
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state's program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

Gateway Arch park reopening set for July 3

Feb 12, 2018
Scaffolding borders large interpretive floor art that traces the paths explorers and pioneers took westward from St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Monday talked about renovations taking place at the Gateway Arch in advance of a planned reopening date of July 3.

Joining the discussion was Ryan McClure, director of communications and activation at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. St. Louis on the Air producer Alex Heuer also joined the conversation.

Gov. Eric Greitens delivers the 2018 State of the State address in Jefferson City.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

Gov. Eric Greitens talks often about growing jobs in Missouri.

It was one of the major themes in the Republican governor’s State of the State address last month. He told members of the state House and Senate that he would continue to focus on several areas to create jobs:

“Making sure that we have the right laws on the books to be fair to family businesses, and making strategic investments in education, infrastructure, and workforce development,” Greitens said.

Yet just a few days later, the governor proposed a roughly $68 million reduction for public colleges and universities. The suggested cuts to higher education for the second year in a row drew criticism almost immediately, including from Greiten’s own party.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly calls for mapping the state's more than 2,200 special tax districts. 

The number of such districts has exploded over the last 10 years, according to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters. He said in some areas the layering of districts has pushed sales tax rates up in "a considerable way."

St. Louis is accepting applications for a company to operate a "dockless" bike share system in the city. Officials hope a service will be operating some time this year.
CityofStPete | Flickr

St. Louis officials are shifting gears to bring a bike share program to city residents and visitors.

The St. Louis Board of Alderman Friday approved the permit application to run what’s known as a “dockless” bike share program. Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, the bill’s sponsor, is hopeful a company will be up and pedaling later this year.

A proposed hyperloop transportation system would connect Missouri’s two major metropolitan hubs.
provided | VectorSTL

A proposed hyperloop would transport people between Missouri’s two major hubs in under 30 minutes.

A feasibility study will get underway in February to look at whether it makes sense to go forward with the route. The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, comprised of public and private groups, raised the $1.5 million funding for the study and made the announcement Tuesday.

A Buddeez factory worker removes a plastic bin from the conveyor belt. Plastic bins are one of the many products Buddeez manufactures. (Jan 12 2018)
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri company is benefiting big from Walmart’s effort to boost manufacturing in the United States.

Buddeez Inc., which makes milk crates, plastic storage bins and other products for Walmart and other retailers in Union, is in the midst of an expansion. Its growth is part of Walmart’s 10-year initiative to invest $250 billion in each of the 50 states.

Adolphus Pruitt, St. Louis City NAACP Branch President, shakes hands with Brian Hoelscher, MSD executive director and CEO, at MSD's headquarters in January 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 26 with more details from MSD's research — The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District announced Thursday that it has made strides in hiring more women and minorities for contract work. 

The NAACP and minority advocacy groups like MOKAN have pushed the sewer utility for several years to make more diverse hires for its contractual engineering and construction work. They stepped up such efforts after a Clean Water Act settlement in 2011 required the MSD to spend $4.7 billion on sewer upgrades over the next two decades. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided NAFTA-related estimates for all states. It has concluded that doing away with the agreement would have a significant impact on Missouri's economy.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The fate of tens of thousands of Missouri jobs could hinge on trade talks set to resume this week in Montreal. Negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico will gather for another round of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The U.S. wants to rework the deal, or possibly withdraw altogether.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says roughly 250,000 jobs in Missouri could be affected if the Trump administration decides to leave NAFTA.

provided | Better Business Bureau

Consumers in the St. Louis region reported losses of nearly $200,000 to the Better Business Bureau last year due to scams.

The non-profit said its online Scam Tracker recorded 953 scams throughout the area in 2017.

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

Fairfield Processing, the manufacturer known for its Poly-Fil brand of synthetic stuffing material, will bring more than 100 jobs to St. Louis’ North Riverfront neighborhood. Wednesday’s announcement came after the manufacturer moved its facility from Granite City to St. Louis last summer.

The relocation brought 50 full-time jobs with it, but company officials said they plan to add another 100 jobs in the next five years.

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