Economy & Innovation

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

social security card corner
file photo (Kelsey Proud/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated March 12, 2015 with a response from I Am My Sister’s Keeper

According to the woman behind I Am My Sister’s Keeper, Bella Beaudreux, the organization is not a scam.

“I got into this because I just wanted to help women who were in trouble,” Beaudreux said. “I never gave anybody information that wasn’t true. I said this is where we are and this is where we want to go.”

Beaudreux first said that individuals applying for jobs filled in their social security number as part of the application. When pressed about the fact that most employers don’t collect social security numbers until the first day of work in order to fill out tax paperwork, Beaudreux paused and then said that maybe her applications didn’t ask for social security numbers after all.

“Then maybe I’m wrong then,” Beaudreux said. “My mind is boggled right now. But I know this: I did nothing wrong. I never even looked at the information.”

Beaudreux said that anyone who filled out an application is welcome to come and pick it up or request that it be shredded. She said that she still feels called to help women who have been abused but doesn’t know whether the safe house will become a reality anytime soon.

“Maybe it won’t be tomorrow; maybe it won’t be a year from now. But I won’t give up,” Beaudreux said.

Beaudreux said she has not collected donations from anyone and never promised payment for attending meetings.

She also said that she is not responsible for the I Am My Sister’s Keeper website incorrectly stating that it was a member of the United Way because she did not build the website. The website has since been taken down.  

Original story:

An organization claiming to be opening a safe house for abused women in St. Louis may be a scam. The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis issued a warning Wednesday about “I Am My Sister’s Keeper.”

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed its long-awaited rules for commercial drone flights in US airspace. If approved, they could open up the sky in the St. Louis area for a variety of unmanned aircraft.

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

St. Louis officials are providing clarification of how the city would implement eminent domain to clear a swath of land on the north side of St. Louis.

Otis Woodard
Provided by the family

Otis Woodard said he saw Martin Luther King Jr.’s foot sticking through the second floor railing of the Lorraine Motel moments after King was slain on April 4, 1968. During a 2011 speech, Mr. Woodard recalled being “one of those little guys” who was in Memphis with Dr. King.

“It was such an exciting and scary time,” he said. “I left Memphis to hide.”

Monica Johnson (left) and Kimberly St. Clair lead a job training session for Ferguson 1000 Jobs on Saturday, February 14, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

One of the organizations formed to help Ferguson and the surrounding north St. Louis County region after the death of Michael Brown is gearing up for its first so-called “hiring event.”

Ferguson 1000 Jobs held a job training session Saturday at Ferguson Heights Church of Christ in preparation for the hiring event on February 28. During the training they discussed resume writing and practiced mock interviews.

houses for sale, housing market
(Flickr, Tom Caswell)

St. Louis’ housing market is recovering from the so-called "Great Recession,' but its pace is slower than in other areas of the country.

That was the message members of the St. Louis Association of Realtors heard at the group’s annual economic forecast breakfast Wednesday.

Bills Emmons, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation, told the group that St. Louis is following national trends in the housing market.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Union membership in Missouri has dropped to its lowest rate in 26 years, according to new numbers released earlier this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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new stadium, St. Louis Rams
Courtesy HOK | 360 Architecture

Nothing ventured ... a lot to lose.

That was the message from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Tuesday morning, as he touted efforts to build a new football stadium in St. Louis.

"If we do nothing, then we’re not an NFL city. If we do nothing then $10 million in taxes is gone. If we do nothing then people will stand right here 10 years from now and that will look exactly like it looks right there," Nixon said during a news conference on St. Louis’ north riverfront near the proposed stadium site.

Hofbrauhaus, Shrine, Belleville
(courtesy Keller Entreprises)

A new convention center, two hotels, and several restaurants are being proposed for development across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, all with the Catholic organization’s blessing.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate own the 177-acre proposed site north of Illinois Route 15, just across from the Shrine. The Oblates said at a news conference Monday the development will augment their own conference space at the Shrine.

Guest services and marketing manager for the Shrine Chris Diel said it would also allow them to close an old hotel on the grounds.

May to March Bootcamp, Youth CITIES, Venture Cafe
(courtesy Youth CITIES)

All they need is a business idea ... and youth.

A new 10-week entrepreneurial bootcamp aimed at sixth through 12th graders will soon begin at Venture Café.

The goal of the March to May Bootcamp is to help students start their own businesses, but also give them the tools to succeed in whatever path they choose.

Joe McDonald (back left) came up with the idea for a fitness app that measures power use. He and his team are hammering out their presentation for the company tentatively called Watt Runner.
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:05 a.m. Monday February 9, 2015 to include competition results.  

On Friday, St. Louis held it's first bio-health Startup Weekend. For 54 hours, eight teams worked to build a health-related business from the ground up.

Cities around the country and the globe have held Startup Weekends. St. Louis had its first Startup Weekend in 2012.

Ferguson activist Ebony Williams (left) has been a regular at area protests calling for police reform. She says she wants to learn coding and other tech skills to bring them back to the community. Danie Banks (right) of Thoughtworks is her mentor for the
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

For the next six weeks, 10 young people, many with ties to Ferguson demonstrations, will spend three days a week learning web coding, business technology and how to protect themselves from cyber-attacks.

Activist group Hands Up United organized the program through the help of Abby Bobé with the IT consulting firm ThoughtWorks. Other ThoughtWorks employees also are involved.

Bobé said the goal of the six-week workshop is to give more people of color in the St. Louis area an opportunity to learn about technology.

trains, freight trains
(Flicker)

Civic and business leaders say the St. Louis region has to be ready to capitalize on an expected increase in freight across the United States.

It was the topic of conversation at the St. Louis Regional Transportation Forum on Thursday in Collinsville.

"St. Louis stands in a very good position to expand its capabilities, expand our economy and expand our jobs in the St. Louis region," said John Nations, president and CEO of the Bi-State Development Agency/Metro.

via Flickr/Michael R. Allen

Now that Lambert-St. Louis International Airport has finished its major physical improvements, it is working to position itself to best advantage in today’s aviation economy.

The airport released a five-year strategic plan Wednesday with broad goals to strengthen its finances and to better meet the needs of its passengers. The plan centers on utilizing every asset the airport has while recognizing its limitations.

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.

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