Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

The technology startup incubator in downtown St. Louis is currently home to nearly 230 businesses. About 40 others got their start at T-REX and have moved to other locations throughout the region.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Arch Grants is only 6 years old, but to date it has awarded more than $6 million in cash grants that have helped launch more than 100 companies.

Arch Grants is a non-profit organization that attracts and supports startup companies to St. Louis with its Global Startup Competition. The group released its annual report Tuesday, full of testimonials from startup founders, graphs and lots of numbers.  

Experts say billions in a multi-year plan won't go far enough to address infrastructure repairs and upkeep.

"When we’re developing strategies to tackle vacancy, we need good data as a base to guide those decisions," says Laura Ginn (right), who has helped develop a data-rich website on vacant property in St. Louis.
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

For the record, St. Louis is home to 20,187 vacant properties. More than half are vacant lots, totaling 1,565 acres. Over the past five years, it has cost the city more than $17 million to maintain the vacant property with services like mowing, removing dumped waste, and boarding up abandoned structures.

The total assessed value of all that property? $79,813,010.

The 128-year-old Merchants Bridge is receiving a $172-million renovation. July 11, 2018.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

Private railroad companies will rebuild a 128-year-old railroad bridge that spans the Mississippi River north of downtown St. Louis despite failing to secure federal funding that would help pay for the project.

Nan Palmero | Flickr Creative Commons

On July 14, 2008, Anheuser-Busch accepted a $52 billion takeover offer from InBev, a beer conglomerate based in Belgium. The deal marked the end of an era for the iconic American brewery established in 1852, and its hometown of St. Louis.

One local industry that had flourished for decades in the shadow of Anheuser-Busch was advertising. Think Jon Hamm in Mad Men. AB was the glamour account that everyone wanted a piece of and there was plenty of work to keep a small army of creative people very busy.

How Some Small Towns Are Achieving 'Brain Gain'

Jul 11, 2018

When communities watch young people grow up, go off and never return, remaining residents and politicians often bemoan there’s been a “brain drain” — especially when such population loss means schools and businesses close.

Construction began Tuesday July 10 for the Live! by Loews' Ballpark Village hotel. The hotel showed in a rendering here could be completed by February 2020.
Cordish Companies and Loews Hotels & Co

Officials plunged ceremonial shovels into the dirt at the future site of Live! by Loews at Ballpark Village on Monday.

The $65 million hotel, at the corner of Clark and 8th streets, is part of the $260-million, second phase of the development. The hotel is a part of the living space that Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said will put the “village” in Ballpark Village.

Metro Transit

A new MetroLink station will open in St. Louis’ Cortex Innovation Community later this month.

The light-rail stop is located on the east side of Boyle Avenue between the existing Central West End and Grand stations. It’s part of a $15.4-million project to update transportation options surrounding the St. Louis tech hub. The station marks Metro Transit’s first construction project built with both private and public funding.

Metro Transit spokesperson Patti Beck said the stop will support Cortex’s growth as a tech hub.

The expansion adds office, storage and warehouse space to the Wellston Business Center, which opened 13 years ago.
St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

The expansion of a center to help launch businesses is aimed at sparking an economic rebound in a north St. Louis County community. A ribbon cutting is set for Monday at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership business center in Wellston.

Commerical planes parked at a St. Louis Lambert International Airport terminal.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport

The Advisor Team hired by the city of St. Louis to explore the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport takes off next week, with its first official meeting on July 11.

The request for proposals, review and approval process is expected to take 18 to 24 months. The process has already been delayed by political maneuvers on the committee to select the advisors and it’s likely to hit more turbulence in the months ahead.

The corn and soybeans growing in Glenn Brunkow’s fields in the rolling Flint Hills north of Wamego, Kansas, got some much needed rain recently and look healthy.

Brunkow has reason to expect a good harvest, but the way things are looking globally, he’ll lose money on the crop. Trade disputes with China, Mexico and Canada threaten to slash U.S. food exports by billions. About half the soybean crop goes overseas, most of that to China — and since mid-April, soybean prices have plunged about 20 percent and corn about 15 percent.

Friday is the deadline for U.S.-China trade talks. If they fail and China's 25-percent tariff on soybeans goes into effect, Missouri farmers will feel the impact.
jasonippolito | Flickr

Soybean farmers across the Midwest are on the frontlines of a looming trade war between the U.S. and China. The first shots could be fired this week if negotiations fail.

Each country is prepared to impose $34 billion in tariffs on the other’s exports if no agreement is reached by the July 6 deadline.

Clientele of The Lost Whiskey swarm the dance floor and the bar during last call. The bar/restaurant opened its doors in late April and is one of the bars that could be affected by the proposed ordinance
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Charles’ historic district has two distinct identities.

During the day, people come to the three-block stretch of Main Street to browse in small shops and eat at locally owned restaurants. At night, 18 bars along the same street attract students from Lindenwood University and those looking for a good time.

But in recent years, that transformation after sunset has caused tension in both the historic district and the city.

Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson outlined two priorities to drive the state’s economy during an appearance in St. Louis on Wednesday: workforce development and infrastructure.

The governor spoke at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center following an all-day summit convened to focus on the two issues. Parson urged the gathering of business and education officials from around the state to work together to prepare tomorrow’s workforce and to vote in November.

close up of nail heads
Flickr | Ed Ivanushkin

Mid Continent Steel and Wire, a nail manufacturer in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, has been at the center of a media blitz after its plight was publicized by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in front of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a Senate committee hearing last week.

Since the hearing, Mid Continent, alongside household names like Harley-Davidson, Inc., has been declared a likely casualty of the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policies — specifically steel tariffs.

The company, which manufactures 50 percent of the nails made in the United States, laid off 60 of its 500 employees and shuttered a production plant last week.

St. Charles Mayor Sally Faith and St. Charles Police Chief Randy McKinley listen to bar manager Curtis Wilcoxen propose alternative solutions to an ordinance that would require many Main Street St. Charles bars to stop selling alcohol by 11 p.m. 6/26/18
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Owners from Main Street St. Charles restaurants and bars met with city officials Tuesday to propose alternatives to a bill that would ban the sale of alcohol at most bars after 11 p.m.

The proposals included a possible new tax on liquor sales, new parking fees after 9 p.m. and more parking security to reduce crimes on Main Street. Others suggested that bars on Main Street should have to earn at least 60 percent of its revenue from food sales and no more than 40 percent of its revenue from alcohol.

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

Sun Country Airlines, a Minnesota-based low-cost carrier, will become the 11th major passenger airline at St. Louis Lambert International Airport this fall, with service to Tampa and Fort Myers.

Starting Oct. 3, the airline will begin nonstop service from St. Louis to Fort Myers, with flights departing on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Nov. 1, it will begin service to Tampa, with flights departing on Thursdays and Sundays.

In addition to St. Louis, the airline also announced new routes from Dallas/Fort Worth and Madison, Wisconsin. Sun Country currently serves 37 markets in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

Tony and Jack Erker are fifth-generation opticians who are challenging online vendors with a brick-and-mortar experience where customers can watch frames being made in a mini factory. June 2018
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

Brothers Jack and Tony Erker did not want to go into the family optical business.

They spent years pursuing other careers to take them far from the shop at Sixth and Olive streets in downtown St. Louis, where it all started in 1879. But it’s hard to resist five generations of history, not to mention the entrepreneurial DNA embedded in their genes.

This spring Jack and Tony opened Copper Hinge, a brick-and-mortar optical shop in the Delmar Loop.    The brothers envisioned a new way to sell eyeglasses, one that’s not available online or in other stores.

Regional freight leaders (from left) Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Mary Lamie and Mike McCarthy discussed the key role that St. Louis could play in the evolving world of logistics.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

National freight volume is expected to grow significantly over the next 30 years according to regional leaders who want to ensure that St. Louis captures a share of the increase in traffic. Mary Lamie is one of them, and she’s hopeful about the possibilities ahead considering the Gateway City’s existing infrastructure and assets.

“We are strategically located in the United States for freight movements,” Lamie, the executive director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway, said Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air. “We’re home to six Class I railroads, four interstates, two international air-cargo airports – and we have some of the best manufacturing logistics supply chains within the nation.”

BriAsia Warren trains new employee Uraiesha Shelton at Beyond Sweet. Customers can order specialty shakes like The New Yorker, topped with a piece of cheesecake, and the Chocoholic. June 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

At Beyond Sweet, an ice cream and snack shop in the Delmar Loop, two teens are practicing the art of of building mountain peaks of whipped cream.

For now, they’re practicing on pieces of paper, but soon they’ll move onto topping real sundaes and shakes for customers.

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