Economy & Innovation

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

The former Chrysler plant in Fenton is on its way to becoming a light-industrial and office park.

KP Development, formerly known as Koman Properties, closed on the deal Wednesday for the Fenton Logistics Park. The plan calls for more than a half billion dollars of investment into the property and is projected to provide up to 3,000 jobs.

Scott Haley, KP Development’s senior vice president, said two companies are close to finalizing plans within the next few months to locate in the park. He said they include a regional and national players.

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

When you ask people what they think of Monsanto, it doesn’t take long for the four-letter word to come out.

"I hate Monsanto," Jackie King said emphatically, while shopping at the farmer’s market in Tower Grove Park.

King said she doesn’t like GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, that Monsanto helped pioneer in the 1980s. The subject of GMOs came up a lot, but shoppers at the market looking over locally-grown vegetables voiced a lot of concerns about the company, from patented seeds to its impacts on small farmers.

via Wikimedia Commons

As St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke considers whether to stay put or move his team to another city, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has unveiled a plan he says is designed to keep the NFL in St. Louis.

During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Nixon announced that former Anheuser-Busch President David Peacock and Clayton attorney Bob Blitz will spend the next 60 days studying the situation:

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto launched a new national advertising campaign Wednesday that focuses on something everyone can relate to: food.

It’s part of an effort at Monsanto to improve the St. Louis-based company’s image. Earlier this year the Harris Poll on corporate reputations ranked Monsanto third worst in the country, just behind BP.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The long-delayed NorthSide Redevelopment project in St. Louis took a step forward Monday.

The Missouri Department of Health's Facilities Review Committee granted a certificate of need for a three-bed urgent care hospital that's part of developer Paul McKee's master plan for the overall project.  No one spoke in opposition to granting McKee a certificate of need during the committee's meeting, and the vote in favor was 7-0.

The facility is to be built at 25th Street and Maiden Lane.

As I scrolled through tweets about a panel on agricultural entrepreneurs at the SXSW Eco conference earlier this month, one caught my eye. The sender was Vance Crowe, Monsanto's director of millennial engagement.

Corporate America is currently caught up in a torrid infatuation with millennials, who befuddle and torment the companies who want their dollars.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The World Series is over and the Cardinals will have to wait until next year to contend for another title.

But the Redbirds’ lack of championship success didn’t stop Joe Smart from venturing down to Ballpark Village this week to watch the Royals battle it out with the San Francisco Giants. Smart is hardly a newbie to Ballpark Village; he’s visited the entertainment complex 15 times.

So what keeps Smart coming back for more?

Lockerdome CEO Gabe Lozano (left) and project manager Kyle Cordia at the startup's headquarters in downtown St. Louis. 10/29/2014 Durrie Bouscaren/STL Public Radio
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Coding competitions have a way of bringing people together. And GlobalHack's next weekend hackathon will bring them to Ferguson

“Some of these people came from MIT, Wash U [Washington University], some of them came from their mom’s basement. Truth of the matter is, the only thing that matters in our world is that you can actually produce,” said local startup CEO Gabe Lozano, who co-founded GlobalHack.

GlobalHack III is the company's third quarterly competition and promises $50,000 in prize money. 

One of the new signs that can be found on taxi stands throughout Downtown St. Louis.
Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

Throughout downtown St. Louis, new signs can be found on the sidewalks and taxi stands.

The signs are part of a public awareness campaign that was launched Wednesday by the Missouri Department of Public Safety and the St. Louis Taxi Commission that aims to reduce the number of drunken driving accidents.

Leanna Depue, the director of Highway Safety for MoDOT, said that in 2013, 223 people were killed and 745 seriously injured in substance-related crashes.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

While the gender wage gap has narrowed over the last 50 years, the improvement has not been significant, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

In Missouri, the median earnings for a woman working full-time is $32,000 while the median earnings for a man working full-time is $43,000, said lawyer Donna Harper, a partner at Sedey Harper P.C., which specializes in employment law.

“Women make about three-fourths of what men make when they’re both employed full time, at least in Missouri,” Harper told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Wednesday.

Reopening what had been a pedestrian mall on 14th Street brought new opportunity to Old North St. Louis.
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Conversations about the Old North St. Louis neighborhood are starting to center around more than Crown Candy.

Make no mistake, the chocolate malts at Crown Candy remain as delicious as ever, but other things are happening in the neighborhood bordered by Palm Street on the north, Cass Avenue on the south, Howard Street on the east, and North Florissant on the west. 

To get an idea of what is happening we talked with families who live there as well as the head of the neighborhood association and people involved with Washington University's Land Lab.

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

In his 35 years as president of the St. Louis chapter of the Coalition for Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Lew Moye has seen a lot of initiatives to increase diversity in construction.

There have been agreements to include minorities in specific projects, such as building the Edward Jones Dome and expanding Interstate 64.

And there have been protests demanding greater minority representation, such as the 1999 shutdown of I-70, where Reverend Al Sharpton led minority contractors in a call for more state highway jobs.

(Flickr/Thomas Karl Gunnarsson)

When large numbers of young people are unemployed, it is not only a blow to the individuals, it is also a missed economic opportunity for the region. That was the overarching message of a panel discussion held Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and STL Youth Jobs.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that in 2012, 15 percent of people ages 16 to 24 in the U.S. were not employed, not in school or not getting job training. For each of those “detached” youth, the economy misses out on $14,000 annually.

The new Ikea store is under construction on top of a parking structure. It will also include outdoor parking.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio) / IKEA

The Ikea store in St. Louis is on track to open next fall.

Construction workers began putting up the steel frame for the 380,000 square foot store this week. The blue paneling will likely go up in December.

"That’s when the iconic blue and yellow will begin to show," said Joseph Roth, Ikea’s director of U.S. public affairs.

MoDOT

Transportation officials are hoping a new pilot program will help cut down on the number of wrong-way accidents on Interstate-44 in St. Louis.

According to a press release from the Missouri Department of Transportation, there have been 25 crashes on I-44 caused by drivers headed in the wrong direction on the interstate in the last eight years.

St. Louis Public Radio

The organization that focuses on promoting the St. Louis region's bio-science industries is reaching beyond the country's borders to accomplish its mission.

BioSTL launched the St. Louis-Israel Innovation Connection Friday with the aim of attracting Israeli bioscience starts to branch out into St. Louis.

Israel is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to creating startups.

With many of those companies looking to expand into the U.S., St. Louis can be their destination, said BioSTL CEO and president Donn Rubin.

An aerial view of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at 3200 South 2nd Street.
NGA

It’s a top national security facility in St. Louis that’s flown under the radar for years.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is hidden in plain sight on more than 20 acres that lie between the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and the Mississippi River. There are roughly 2,500 NGA employees there, working on highly secretive projects. The maps, charts and strategic intelligence they provide are used by the president, national policy makers and military leaders.

(Flickr, Bernt Rostad)

Detroit and St. Louis can learn from one another.

That was the idea behind a visit to St. Louis by a group of Detroit community development professionals this week.

The Detroit Revitalization Fellows met with representatives from Preservation Research St. Louis, Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Northside Regeneration and Cortex.

Revolution LLC

A high-profile entrepreneur is calling on the community to do more to support St. Louis-area startups.

"We just need to tell that story. That’s not to say that Silicon Valley won’t continue to be great and New York City isn’t great and Boston isn’t great, but St. Louis is great too," said A-O-L Co-Founder Steve Case during a stop on Friday at Washington University.

"There should be some degree of skepticism when people are talking about new ideas, but give entrepreneurs the benefit of the doubt."

A report being considered by the St. Louis parking commission suggests increasing parking rates in the city. That would help fund upgraded meters, like this one that takes credit cards.
Paul Sableman, Flickr

St. Louis' coin-only parking meters may get a technology upgrade, but it might cost you more to use them.

On Thursday, the city's parking commission reviewed initial recommendations to raise parking rates by next year. The suggestions come from a preliminary report commissioned by the city that evaluates its parking system. 

The commission is considering raising hourly meter rates from $1 to $1.50 in busy downtown areas, and from $0.75 to $1 in lower demand areas. Some violation fees also would increase.

Ferguson
Emanuele Berry

A handful community leaders publicly introduced the “Joint Community Relations Group” at Greater St. Mark Family Church on Wednesday. The people involved have been meeting privately during the past several weeks to discuss “strategies and tactics” to deal with the issues surrounding Ferguson.

The group consists of more than 50 politicians, police officials, clergy and activists.

Last month’s State of St. Louis Workforce report examined St. Louis’ economy and labor market, and the local demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent.

Ferguson realtor Pearce Neikirk gives a tour of a single-family home on the north side of town. Since the unrest, the seller has reduced the home's price by $9,000.
Emanuele Berry / St. Louis Public Radio

While giving a tour of a two-story, French colonial style home that's for sale on the north side of Ferguson, realtor Pearce Neikirk said the past months have been hard on his business.

“All of us are working without the rule book here,” Neikirk said. “We don’t know how to work with this kind of a situation.”

(courtesy Monsanto)

Monsanto is committing $1 million to support Ferguson and surrounding north St. Louis County communities.

Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant said Monsanto took its time and tried to strike the right balance between donating to short-term and long-term initiatives.

"[The non-profits] are also a balance of agencies we’ve worked with for many, many years and also some new initiatives that I think have tremendous potential to make change in the long-term," Grant said.

Joni Cobb, CEO and president of the Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship.
(courtesy Pipeline)

The Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship is now open to all St. Louis entrepreneurs.

The program works like a support group for entrepreneurs in the Midwest. It began in Kansas in 2006 and then expanded to Nebraska and Kansas City.

Until now, only those affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis could apply to take part in the year-long fellowship.

Pipeline president and CEO Joni Cobb said they’re looking for leaders who are likely to grow a company.

Rosemary Straub Davison
Provided by the family

In July of 1991, Rosemary Davison took the keys and the deed to a home at 1067 Dunn Rd. in Florissant.

The two-story, red-brick farm house was built around 1860 by a German immigrant who had made his fortune during the California Gold Rush. Now, the house wasn’t fit to live in.

That didn’t matter to Ms. Davison. She wasn’t planning to live there. She was on a rescue mission.

With other members of Historic Florissant Inc., the nonprofit organization she helped found in 1969, Ms. Davison saved Gittemeier House from the wrecking ball.

Rendering of part of the revamped Grand Center
Christner + Hoerr Schaudt

The Grand Center neighborhood is growing. This comes as no surprise to Michelle Stevens, vice president of Grand Center Inc.  But, she says the area still has a long way to go before the “Growing Grand” plan is fulfilled.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Cambridge Innovation Center’s first site outside Massachusetts is officially open.

CIC@4240 is located in St. Louis’ innovation district, Cortex, and provides flexible working space for startups and emerging businesses.

The company has 32,000 square feet in the @4240 building on Duncan Avenue and is expected to eventually house up to 75 companies.

(Stephanie Zimmerman, St. Louis Public Radio.)

St. Louis is not exactly a farm town, but you don’t have to look hard to find ag-related commerce here. One big example is Elevator “D,” a grain terminal at 4040 Duncan Ave., neighboring the soon-to-be home of Ikea, the much anticipated Swedish furniture store.

So just what is this massive cement structure? The 88 bins housed within can hold 2.4 million bushels of grain. Built in 1953, it was bought in the mid-1980s by Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers Inc., a farmer’s co-op headquartered in Richmond, Mo.

sign for medical marijuana
Wikimedia Commons

The opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new industry has a Metro East entrepreneur moving forward with plans for a medical marijuana operation, even though there is no guarantee of being granted a license by the state of Illinois.

Mitch Meyers is a partner with NCC LLC, which stands for Nature's Care Company. She says the company has already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into a potential cultivation center and dispensary near Marissa in St. Clair County.

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