Economy & Innovation

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

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.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

A new study shows low-income children in Missouri will have a harder time getting ahead compared with their wealthier peers than those in past decades.

The groundbreaking for the Loop Trolley took place Thursday.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

With bands, balloons, and the clang of a bell, the Loop Trolley project officially broke ground on Thursday.

Found to be in critical shape, MoDOT closed the I-44 Outer Road bridge over the Gasconade River in Laclede County back in December due to deterioration.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Transportation

Thirty-eight bridges in the greater St. Louis area are just "a step or two from being closed" due to deterioration, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

They are among the nearly 600 bridges statewide that officials say are currently rated in poor to serious condition, but aren't funded in the state's five-year plan for improvements. 

An artist's rendering of The Standard, a 465-bedroom private student housing development going up on Forest Park Avenue.
(courtesy of Sangita Capital Partners)

Just kitty-corner from the new IKEA building in Midtown St. Louis, a new private student housing development is taking shape.

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.
Courtesy of LaunchCode

President Barack Obama on Monday announced an initiative called TechHire that will train and connect workers to tech jobs.

In unveiling the $100 million program at the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C., the president highlighted LaunchCode, a St. Louis nonprofit started in 2013.

Derek Laney, Michael McPhearson, and Jeff Ordower (from left to right) were among protesters outside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis on Thursday.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

What recovery?

That was the question being asked Thursday by a small group of activists outside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

About a dozen protesters called on the Fed to focus on unemployment, especially among minorities, rather than on keeping inflation rates low. They said if the Federal Open Market Committee raises the interest rate this year, as anticipated, it would likely mean fewer jobs.

Brewing tank outside The Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

The increasingly competitive craft beer sector has at least two high-profile St. Louis companies looking to make inroads in Chicago, one of the largest markets in North America.

Urban Chestnut and Schlafly recently struck separate distribution deals to start selling in Chicago, which the Brewers Association says is the third largest overall beer market in the country.

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

Developer Paul McKee is asking the state of Missouri for permission to relocate a proposed urgent care facility to the former Pruitt-Igoe site in north St. Louis.

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.

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