Economy & Innovation

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

Madison County Transit

Madison County, Illinois, bus riders will soon start seeing some changes in service.  

Starting next Sunday, Madison County Transit will bring an entirely new bus route to areas popular with the Highland community, and add evening and weekend service elsewhere.

The expanded services will not be offered on all routes. Instead, according to SJ Morrison, Director of Marketing and Planning for Madison County’s transit system, the department evaluated holes in service and community demands, then chose to expand bus routes that demonstrated the most need.

Mayor Francis Slay, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

A new partnership will focus on training and business development in the St. Louis region’s immigrant entrepreneurship community.

MoDOT District Engineer Greg Horn speaks at the TRIP report news conference Thursday, April 30, 2015 against a backdrop of the traffic management center in Chesterfield.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Roads in need of repair and expansion cost the average St. Louis-area driver $1,511 a year from car accidents, maintenance needs and wasted gas, according to a new report released Thursday by private transportation research group TRIP.

The report estimates that the average St. Louis driver spends 31 hours a year stuck in traffic and that almost 30 percent of the major roads in the St. Louis area need to be reconstructed because they’ve deteriorated beyond the scope of surface-level repair.

(Flicker, Jim Fenton)

CTY is a technology company that formed in St. Louis just last year.

But the startup nabbed a $35,000 Prototype Fund grant from the Knight Foundation and will test its first product in a project with the city.

The product, called Numina, collects real-time data using optical sensors. This summer those sensors will count pedestrians and bicyclists and send that information to the St. Louis Department of Health.

CEO Tara Pham said the city’s willingness to work with a startup and use new technology is important.

Elementary students from KIPP Victory Academy in St. Louis and Rockwood Center for Creative Learning in Ellisville break ground on the Arch museum expansion Wednesday, April 29, 2015. CityArchRiver Executive Director Maggie Hales looks on from back.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Construction is underway on the Gateway Arch museum expansion.  The groundbreaking ceremony for the latest phase of the $380 million CityArchRiver project was held Wednesday at the site of the future entryway to the museum, sandwiched between the Arch and the soon-to-be-completed park over the highway.

Alderwoman Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward, thanks her supporters after being sworn into the board of Aldermen.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

When the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development bestowed a Promise Zone designation on parts of St. Louis, officials here saw at as an opportunity to turn distressed parts of the region around.

But at least one St. Louis alderman is questioning the boundaries of the Promise Zone – especially since it doesn’t take in hard-hit portions of the city’s South Side.

At hundreds of libraries across the U.S., 3-D printers can sometimes be heard whirring in the background, part of an effort to encourage interest in the new technology and foster DIY "maker spaces."

In some libraries, officials have begun to set restrictions on the 3-D printers amid concerns about how they'll be used.

At the University City Public Library in St. Louis, Patrick Wall recently printed a green plastic sword from the game Minecraft.

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, and cars contributes to asthma and other health problems in the St. Louis area.
Syracuse University News Services

The American Lung Association says a data collection glitch in Illinois means it can’t determine whether air quality in the city of St. Louis has worsened.

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The blue and yellow exterior is almost complete, and the store is on track to open this fall in Midtown St. Louis.

We’re talking about the IKEA, of course.

The Swedish furnishings company’s arrival in St. Louis has been long awaited and much anticipated. It will be the 41st store in the U.S., but the first in Missouri.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Juliàn Castro announces that St. Louis was one of eight communiteis picked for his agency's "Promise Zone" program.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Juliàn Castro announced Tuesday that parts of the St. Louis region were designated by his agency as a Promise Zone.

Speaking at the MET Center in Wellston, Castro said that St. Louis was one of eight communities picked for HUD’s program. Among other things, the program gives selected cities greater access to federal money and manpower to redevelop struggling areas.

historic preservation, Landmarks Association of St. Louis
(courtesy of Landmarks Association of St. Louis)

The Cupples 7 building in downtown St. Louis was on the National Register of Historic Places, but that didn’t save it from the wrecking ball.

The nine-story building was torn down in 2013 after becoming so unstable the city considered it a public safety risk.

In the wake of the demolition, Landmarks Association of St. Louis decided it was time to create a low-interest loan program for historic preservation.

LaunchCode, community center, tech jobs
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A former state unemployment center on St. Louis’ north side could soon become LaunchCode’s new community center.

The non-profit that focuses on training people in technology and placing them in jobs, made the announcement Friday at the former Nathaniel J. ‘Nat’ Rivers State Office Building at 4811 Delmar Avenue.

"Take a look at this building right now," said LaunchCode co-founder Jim McKevley while pointing to the beige walls, "then come back in a year, and I guarantee it will not look like this."

(courtesy Ameren)

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed a federal lawsuit Thursday over a federal agency’s renewal for Ameren’s Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio/Mapbox, OpenStreetMap)

It’s not the first time.

Developer Paul McKee is facing a $17 million lawsuit over defaulted loans connected to the Northside Regeneration project in St. Louis, and he owes more than $750,000 in property taxes to the city.

But in previously reported but somewhat forgotten news, McKee and his company, Hazelwood Logistics Center, LLC, were ordered to pay a bank $32 million in a federal judgment back in 2011. So far, just a small fraction has been paid.

BJC Healthcare is in middle of a large construction project employing a lot of workers.
file photo | Provided by BJC HealthCare

Unemployed minorities and females looking to enter the construction industry in the St. Louis region now have a new training option.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

African Americans continue to face long-term and persistent inequities when it comes to employment, income and wealth, according to a report by the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee.  The report, Economic Challenges in the Black Community, says the recession took a greater financial toll on African-American households than it did on white households, increasing the disparity in wealth between blacks and whites.

(Flickr, Paul Sableman)

Closing economic disparities in the St. Louis region is one key to moving past Ferguson.

That was the message at a panel discussion Thursday called "Eight Months Post-Ferguson: The Journey from Recovery to Rebuilding." Several of the panelists said sharp economic contrasts contributed to issues in Ferguson, but are even more stark in other communities.

Katelyn Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis protesters joined thousands of others across the nation on Wednesday to push for a $15 minimum wage. Demonstrations occurred at various locations, including a walk-out strike at the McDonald's on South Broadway and a rally at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Harambee Youth Training program, which teaches kids tuckpointing skills, received a HUD-funded community development block grant from the St. Louis city's community development administration in 2014.
Courtesy Harambee Youth Training Program

St. Louis highlighted accomplishments this week that it made using millions in federal grant money. These include funding 13 youth programs, developing about 325 new or rehabbed housing units, and hosting other programs for low to moderate income residents last year.

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of 2014.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The company with ambitions to bring St. Louis' north side back to life is responding to a lawsuit filed Monday in St. Louis County that alleges Northside Regeneration defaulted on loans and owes more than $17 million.

Paul McKee's company released a statement Friday that said the suit, filed by Titan Fish Two LLC, was meant to "embarrass" Northside.

Gov. Jay Nixon speaks on Thursday at St. Louis Building Trades headquarters in south St. Louis. Labor unions agreed to work 24-hour shifts with no overtime to build a riverfront stadium in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The caretakers for the Edward Jones Dome have initiated a lawsuit to see whether St. Louis residents will have to vote to approve public financing of a proposed riverfront stadium.

It’s a legal maneuver that seeks to clarify a sticking point in obtaining the money for a project that could keep professional football in St. Louis.

Photo of 25 Street and Maiden Lane, within the footprint of the Northside Regeneration project.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee owns more than 1,500 acres on the north side of St. Louis, but for the last two years he has not paid property taxes on nearly any of it.

In examining real estate property taxes, St. Louis Public Radio discovered McKee’s company, Northside Regeneration LLC, owes the city more than $750,000 in taxes for 2013 and 2014. That total includes nearly $120,000 in interest and penalties.

The developer acknowledged the tax bill and said it would get paid.

(Flickr, Paul Sableman)

It’s getting increasingly difficult for renters to save money for their first home.

That’s according to a National Association of Realtors report released last month that found rental costs have outpaced wages in many cities. The study looked at 70 metropolitan areas from 2009 to 2014.

St. Louis certified public accountant Lance Weiss talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Tuesday at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

State and federal income taxes are due April 15, making this the time to be asking those pressing tax questions.

Missouri needs more internet service producers to connect underground fiber networks to customers to increase high-speed internet access, a new FCC report says.
Dan Chace | Flickr

Nearly a third of Missourians - or about 1.8 million people - lack access to high-speed internet, according to a report last month from the Federal Communications Commission. That means Missouri ranks 15th among all states for the highest percentage of residents not served by fiber networks that can deliver such high speeds.

The proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency | provided

The city of St. Louis expects to start making offers in early May on the properties within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

That includes land owned by developer Paul McKee, who owns more than half of the parcels in the 100-acre area.

Until now, it had been unclear whether the city or McKee would sell the land to the federal government should the intelligence agency choose the north city site. McKee owns more than 350 parcels within the site just north of Pruitt-Igoe.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

Things are on the upswing for the St. Louis regional economy.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Burgundy Book, the quarterly summary of economic conditions, shows positive trends in the last quarter of 2014. That includes a declining unemployment rate, stronger home sales, and a spike in manufacturing exports.

Kevin Kliesen, a business economist and research officer at the Fed, said St. Louis’ economy is beginning to improve at a faster pace.

This property on N. Grand Blvd has been in the city's land bank since 2001. It's one of more than 3,000 abandoned buildings the city is trying to find a use for or sell.
City of St. Louis | LRA website

St. Louis’ strategy for combating blight and reducing the amount of abandoned property in the city is getting revamped. A team from the city spent much of last week discussing the issue during a Center for Community Progress event held at Harvard University.

(Flickr, David Goehring)

A solar power project slated for East St. Louis is waiting on the Illinois General Assembly to pass specific legislation so it can get funding to move forward.

The QuikTrip on West Florissant Ave. was looted and burned on Aug. 10, the day after Michael Brown's death.
Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis will build a new center on the site of a burned-out QuikTrip in Ferguson.

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