Economy & Innovation

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

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger delivers his inaugural address on Jan. 1, 2015. Stenger is coming into office with an ambitious agenda to change St. Louis County government -- and the legislative alliances to help him out.
File photo by Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger won’t have a direct role in picking the replacement for St. Louis Economic Development Partnership CEO Denny Coleman. 

But with an eye toward a more aggressive economic development strategy, Stenger says he wants Coleman’s successor to be assertive in seeking out new opportunities.

The rubble of a burned down business on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

The St. Louis Port Authority has designated $500,000 to help clean up portions of Ferguson and Dellwood. 

After a grand jury decided not to indict former Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson, portions of the two cities were looted and burned. Several months later, some of the burned-out structures still remain in ruins in Ferguson and Dellwood.

Maxim Schillebeeckx and Brett Maricque, back row far left, stand with the Balsa Foundation's Entry Program Finalists: Patrice Hill, JaNay Holmes, Talah Alem, Chico Weber, Andrew Yee, Bernard Mallala, Tom Spudich and Brad Postier.
J.R. Johnson / Courtesy of the Balsa Foundation

Do you have a business idea? A student-led nonprofit wants to help, and is offering free advice for St. Louis entrepreneurs.

The Balsa Group is led by Washington University graduate student volunteers who help advise St. Louis biotech and life-science companies at a discounted rate.

Tax season is underway. So is a program that helps low- to moderate-income St. Louis families prepare their taxes for free.
401(K) 2012, via Flickr

A program that helps thousands of low- to moderate-income families prepare their taxes for free is underway across the St. Louis region.

The United Way of Greater St. Louis and four local tax coalitions are offering the service throughout tax season, including taking walk-in service at 20 sites Saturday.

A woodburning stove is the main source of heat at Marx Hardware & Paint Co. in the Old North neighborhood. The store was founded in 1875 but has been in its "new" location since 1881.
Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio

There's been a buzz in the St. Louis hardware store community that one of their own could be closing.

Hanneke Hardware & Industrial Supply Co., a longtime business in The Hill neighborhood, is considering closing its retail business. Opened in 1927 by Carl Hanneke Sr., the store has exchanged hands in recent years and was bought by Christine Kantis and Michael Grewe in 2011. Right now the owners are considering their options. An assistant told St. Louis Public Radio they'll know more next week.

St. Louis Economic Development Partnership CEO Denny Coleman
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership will step down from his post in August.   

Denny Coleman was the first chief executive officer of the partnership, which is the merged economic development agency for St. Louis and St. Louis County. In a press release posted on the agency’s website, Coleman said he is planning to retire from his post on Aug. 1.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is unhappy with the current state of the Edward Jones Dome. When the Rams moved to St. Louis in the 1990s, the contract stipulated that the stadium had to remain in the "top-tier" of other NFL facilities. The Dome is wide
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The already murky future of professional football in St. Louis got a bit gloomier on Monday. 

Officials confirmed that the St. Louis Rams officially entered into a year-to-year lease with the St. Louis’ Convention and Visitors Commission. And the Los Angeles Times reported an Inglewood stadium plan had garnered 20,000 signatures – twice the amount needed to put the measure on the ballot. 

LockerDome

The startup scene in St. Louis is grabbing more national attention as the calendar year begins.

New numbers show Missouri's women who worked full-time earned about 78 percent of men's earnings in 2013.
(via Flickr/Tax Credits)

New numbers show women working full-time in Missouri made 78.1 percent of what men did in 2013.

According to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Show-Me State's women earned a median wage of $665 per week, compared to men's $852 in 2013. The state's women's-to-men's earnings ratio dropped slightly from 2012.

ebola, Scott Air Force Base
Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio / ebola, Scott Air Force Base

As the Ebola epidemic grabbed the world’s attention last year, the U.S. military began to discuss how it could safely transport military personnel if they were infected with the contagious disease.

The answer was unveiled at Scott Air Force Base on Friday.

The Transport Isolation System was designed by Production Products, Inc., a St. Louis-based, minority-owned company. The co-founder and president, Barry Corona, said they started on the project in late October after winning the $6 million contract with the Department of Defense for 25 units.

Jo Ann Harmon Arnold
Provided by the St. Louis Zoo

Jo Ann Harmon Arnold rose from temporary secretary to top executive at Emerson Electric Co. More than three decades after her arrival, she explained why she stayed.

“Interesting, challenging work to do with a lot of responsibility is a hard combination to walk away from,” she told the St. Louis Business Journal in 1999.

She began in Emerson’s human resources department. As she moved steadily through the ranks, Mrs. Arnold said each opportunity seemed “more exciting than the next.”

(courtesy Prosper Women Entrepreneurs)

Six women-led companies have won $50,000 dollar investments from the St. Louis-based organization Prosper Women Entrepreneurs.

This is the first group of the Prosper Startup Accelerator, which includes a 3-month intensive program. Founder Jennifer Ehlen said the entrepreneurs will spend two days each week at T-REX, a downtown St. Louis co-working space and incubator, meeting with mentors and business experts.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File Photo

Since St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced a deal to build a stadium in Inglewood, California, the future of football in the Gateway City has been murky at best. 

Cortex,
(courtesy TechShop)

TechShop, the membership-based DIY workshop, will move into a new building when it arrives in St. Louis next year.

It had been expected to set up shop in the Brauer building at Boyle and Forest Park Avenue. But Dennis Lower, CEO and president of St. Louis’ innovation district Cortex, said after two separate assessments, it became clear renovation wasn’t economically viable.

"We tried valiantly to save it, but we couldn’t," he said.

Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz show off a drawing of a proposed stadium on St. Louis' riverfront.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

When Dave Peacock stepped before a crush of reporters at Union Station last week, his main purpose was to showcase the potential of a new football stadium on St Louis’ riverfront. 

Part of his pitch was economic, which is a typical tactic to gather support for expensive sports facilities. After all, a new stadium could lead to thousands of construction jobs and continued business for surrounding bars and restaurants.

But for Peacock, there were more intangible reasons for the city to pursue the project — something beyond just dollars and cents.

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

A proposed location for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis drew criticism from residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

The north side location is one of four possible sites the NGA is considering for relocation.

CoderGirl, LaunchCode, computer programming
(courtesy LaunchCode)

You're a woman with no computer coding experience? CoderGirl wants you.

CoderGirl offers free weekly meetings that are meant to bring women with an interest in computer programming together with female mentors who can guide them.

It’s the brainchild of LaunchCode, the non-profit that has been working to fill the tech-talent gap in St. Louis.

Save Our Sons, Urban League, Mike McMillan
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has launched a job training and placement program in north St. Louis County called Save Our Sons. The effort is getting serious corporate support — and a dash of Hollywood.

At a news conference Tuesday, Urban League CEO Michael McMillan announced $1.25 million in corporate donations toward the project:

Economist Art Laffer talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 13, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

What would happen if you no longer had to pay income taxes?

Retired financial executive Rex Sinquefield and economist Art Laffer believe it would lead to economic growth and wealth.

“Sometimes when you lower taxes, you get less money. But sometimes you create enough economic activity to actually get more revenues,” Laffer told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday. “If you start lowering taxes from very high levels, you can actually sometimes actually increase revenues. Not all the time, but sometimes that happens.”

Construction around the Poplar Street Bridge will lead to closures on much of the interstates downtown this weekend. MoDOT suggests using detours.
Courtesy MoDOT

The Missouri Department of Transportation is urging drivers to avoid the area around the Poplar Street Bridge this weekend because portions of Interstates 44 and 55 will be closed downtown.

From Friday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m., lanes in both directions will be closed from 7th and Park to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. One ramp off eastbound I-44 near the Old Cathedral downtown will stay closed until January 21. 

(Wayne Pratt, St. Louis Public Radio)

Realtors in the St. Louis area say they are fighting a negative perception of the region in the aftermath of last summer’s violence in Ferguson.

Many in the market, especially in North St. Louis County, are concerned about low re-sale value, said St. Louis Association of Realtors President Janet Judd.

“The perception is that values tumbled, plummeted.”

About 200 realtors gathered at the association’s headquarters Friday to examine how the unrest and its aftermath have affected the area’s housing market.

Little Caesars
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

At least two funds are helping Ferguson-area businesses get back on their feet following the violence and unrest that has affected the area since August.

kevindooley via Flickr

In an environment where companies hold a lot of power, can you make a difference by buying just one share in a company?

Yes, said Brian Reavey, Marianist Province’s director for justice, peace and integrity of creation. Reavey will speak about shareholder advocacy on Thursday at a Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice program.

“There’s a lot of power in owning shares or just even being aware of what companies we’re buying our products from,” he told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday.

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)

A new forecast is suggesting gasoline prices in St. Louis will continue to be among the lowest in the nation for 2015.

GasBuddy.com's annual outlook predicts the peak price in the region will range from $2.65 to $2.95 cents a gallon, thanks in part to a decision by Saudi Arabia to continue production even as global oil prices fall.

via Wikimedia Commons

Amid reports that the team’s owner plans to build a stadium close to Los Angeles, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said a plan should be revealed this week that aims to keep the Rams in St. Louis. 

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

The message to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder from Ferguson: hurry up.

In an open letter to Holder sent late last month, several Ferguson business owners, residents and even the mayor urged Holder to quickly release findings from his office’s federal investigation into Michael Brown’s death.

electric lines
Tom Taker via Flickr

St. Louisans wishing to comment on the possibility of an increase in their electric bill will have two chances to speak with the Missouri agency that regulates investor-owned utilities Monday.

The Missouri Public Service Commission is holding a public hearing at noon at the Holiday Inn on Watson Road near Kirkwood and another at 6 p.m. at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.

Workers demonstrate in support of a higher minimum wage.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri’s minimum wage will go up 15 cents as of New Year’s Day.

The increase from the current $7.50 to $7.65 is the result of a 2006 ballot referendum tying the state’s minimum wage to the Midwest Consumer Price Index. It’s the second 15 cent increase in as many years.

/ Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered the Missouri Department of Agriculture to explore business opportunities in Cuba.

The move follows President Barack Obama's decision to normalize relations with the communist island nation. 

In a written statement released Tuesday, Nixon said that Missouri's agricultural exports are already up by 14 percent this year.

Kristi Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

Community organizing pays off.

That’s the message in a report released Tuesday by Gamaliel, a national faith-based network with affiliates in 16 states, including Metropolitan Congregations United in the St. Louis region and United Congregations of Metro East.

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