Economy & Innovation

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

Designed by Arcturis Inc., the expanded Civic Center Transit Center in downtown St. Louis will include bigger bus bays, a new building, bathrooms, digital arrival time boards, and concessions.
Metro Transit

Passengers who use the busy Civic Center Transit Center in downtown St. Louis will have to pick up their MetroBuses at a different site starting Monday, as work on an expansion project begins.

Centene announced plans for this new claims center shortly after the death of Michael Brown
Centene Corporation

Updated Friday, April 15, 3 p.m. to included comments from grand opening: The opening of Centene's $25 million center in Ferguson Friday is the completion of a goal set by the company's chief executive officer shortly after violence broke out in the city in 2014.

Michael Neidorff said the investment by the Clayton-based managed care company should send a message to some employers who left Ferguson in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will dedicate a new wing of the facility on Friday. The expansion is called the William H. Danforth Wing, in honor of the founding chairman who helped create the plant science center in 1998.

"Everyone thinks I had a big plan when we started. You know you have to feel your way. That’s what you do in life,” Dr. William Danforth told St. Louis Public Radio. “We’re now far ahead of where I thought we would be when we started.”

A view of the outside of the Peabody Energy building in St. Louis.
St. Louis Public Radio

Peabody Energy says all mines and offices will continue to operate even though the St.Louis-based company has filed for bankruptcy. Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow says the move allows Peabody to seek an in-court solution to its debt problems.

(courtesy Missouri Competes)

"Discrimination has no place in Missouri.”

That line greets visitors to the Missouri Competes website.

The coalition has come out against Senate Joint Resolution 39, a measure to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the state ballot that would allow clergy and some businesses to refuse services for same-sex weddings.

(courtesy BioSTL)

NRGene is an ag tech company based in Israel that will soon have a presence in St. Louis.

"Settling in St. Louis is actually a pretty easy decision," said Paul Chomet, who will head up the office here.

He said that’s because NRGene, which uses big data analytics to identify genetic traits and improve crops, has dealt with ag companies and scientists in St. Louis previously. That includes the world-renowned Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

Sarah Davis, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

If a federal spy agency chooses to relocate to north St. Louis as expected, residents in the way will have to move quickly.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency gave St. Louis the initial nod last week, but the spy agency’s final decision will come May 30. St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams said a month after that, the city expects some of the 200 residents living in the new site's footprint to begin moving out.

The country's two largest coal mines are each laying off roughly 15 percent of their employees. Peabody Energy and Arch Coal both announced the layoffs Thursday morning. The cuts will affect roughly 235 workers at Peabody’s North Antelope Rochelle mine and 230 at Arch's Black Thunder mine.

The deal is not done, but St. Louis and Missouri officials are basking in a win.

That’s after National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director Robert Cardillo told St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay late Thursday afternoon that north St. Louis is his preferred location for a new $1.75 billion facility.

Maggie Crane | Twitter

The city of St. Louis chalked up a big win, likely beating out St. Clair County for a federal spy agency.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency indicated in a report that the “preferred” site for its new facility is on the city’s north side. While the final decision isn’t expected until late spring, NGA director Robert Cardillo’s choice is expected to stick.

It’s hard to tell how much impact St. Louis’ 1 percent earnings tax has on attracting businesses to the city. Arguments over the effects of the tax are largely anecdotal.

That’s in part because not much research has been done on the subject over the last 20 years, according to Sarah Coffin, a professor of Urban Planning and Development at Saint Louis University.

(courtesy Powers Insurance and Benefits)

Powers Insurance and Benefits has been in Clayton for nearly 25 years.

Now the family-owned business is making the move to the city of St. Louis.

"There really is no location like this in Clayton, so the city’s giving us something too, which is a very visible site," said CEO Pierce Powers. "You’ll see our signage from the highway."

U Kitchen

If you’re searching for a way to eat freshly cooked meals without compromising quality or spending too much time at the grocery store, a local startup may have the solution. Brian Park, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, is a co-founder of U Kitchen, a new startup that seeks to bring fresh food directly to customers’ doorsteps.

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

The likely winner of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's new facility will be made public this week. A report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday will include the preferred location for the NGA's new west headquarters.

(Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

Home ownership rates across the country continue to decline and an economist at the St. Louis Federal Reserve says there are two potential factors at play. Bill Emmons points to a potential new-normal scenario and the possibility that housing ownership remains in downward cycle that has lasted for roughly two-decades.

GreenLeaf Market, ZOOM Store
(courtesy Northside Regeneration)

Northside Regeneration developer Paul McKee’s plan for a nearly two-square mile area of north St. Louis, has had many false starts.

"This is the most difficult urban project in the country, and it’s taken me years to assemble the land," McKee said Wednesday.

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.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

State and federal income taxes are due April 18, a deviation from years past, when they are normally due by April 15. Missourians who live in areas that were impacted by last year’s flooding also have a little more time to file, with a deadline of May 16, because of a tax relief issued by the IRS.

Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory
Maria Altman |St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Osher can’t imagine how anyone could think of tearing his building down.

"You see that piece of wood?" he asks pointing to a massive rafter. "That’s old growth Douglas fir. You can’t get that anymore."

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis’ work to gain control 100 acres of the north side is not over yet.

This week the city amended its eminent domain lawsuit, adding 13 more properties. The original suit, filed late last year, included 31 parcels.

Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s hard to imagine a time in which laptops, iPhone and satellite television weren’t immediately accessible and yet, in 1991, those opportunities were merely considered a brave new world. Imagine trying to set up a system of governance for a world that doesn’t exist yet. That’s exactly what former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Alfred C. Sikes, a Missouri native, was tasked with doing.

As the New York Times wrote in 1991:

(Peabody Energy, via Wikipedia Commons)

Peabody Energy has three coal mines in far southern Illinois, all of which are still producing coal.

When those mines eventually shut down, the company is required by state and federal laws to pay for the clean-up and reclamation of the land. St. Louis-based Peabody has guaranteed the state of Illinois it has the estimated $92 million to cover that work.

But as the company considers bankruptcy, some question whether the St. Louis-based company’s promise is worth much.

Peabody Energy
(St. Louis Public Radio)

Peabody Energy says it may have to file for bankruptcy.

The St. Louis-based coal company filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A year ago the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis announced its Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson.

A few months later a groundbreaking on the site of the former burned-out QuikTrip on W. Florissant Ave. drew a big crowd. What had become a central place for protests in the days after Michael Brown’s death would soon be a “phoenix rising,” officials said.

Lafayette Industries
(courtesy Lafayette Industries)

Lafayette Industries North Inc. has a unique employment role. The contract packaging company has about 380 developmentally disabled employees working between its two locations in Berkeley and Manchester.

Later this year the company plans to complete a $4.4 million expansion at its Berkeley facility. When the 19,200 square foot expansion is complete, executive director Rob Libera said they plan to hire 70-80 more people.

Updated March 10 at 6:22 p.m. with Metro opening ceremony--Metro transit is celebrating the completion of a new bus center in North St. Louis County.

The $10.3 million facility in Ferguson opens on Monday and will correspond with a redesigned service plan for the north county area. The center includes an indoor waiting area, public restrooms, concessions and free parking.

Shameika Wills and Tyler Parker received instruction in office administration from LaTunya Cropper (far left) at the St. Louis Job Corps Center on North Goodfellow Avenue on February 18
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

“We’re supposed to have 520 students in here, but we have just half of that,” said Redford Salmon, director of the St. Louis Job Corps Center. “I don’t want this to be a secret. We have a great opportunity here to train the future employees of America.”

The St. Louis Job Corps Center is a program of the U.S. Department of Labor operated by an independent contractor, Adams and Associates, an employee-owned company based in Reno, Nevada that employs Salmon and the rest of the center’s 200 full-time staff.

Peabody Energy
(courtesy Peabody Energy)

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy could be headed for bankruptcy court.

In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week Peabody said some of the company’s senior lenders are pushing the coal giant toward in-court restructuring. That comes as Peabody is trying to sell three mines to Bowie Resource Partners in a deal worth $463 million.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, and Congressman William Lacy Clay, as well as other state and city officials, worked together on north St. Louis' pitch as the NGA's relocation site.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said he got a small reaction from Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, when he told him that the city was offering a 100-acre site at no cost.

"Although he’s got a good poker face, I thought I saw him crack a smile," Slay said.

LockerDome Downtown Office
LockerDome

The Missouri Technology Corporation gets lots of praise for helping boost business creation in Missouri. But it’s not clear whether the legislature will reward it with more funding.

The nonprofit, funded partially by the state, helps promote entrepreneurship. It has provided $24 million in equity investments to 70 startups in the state since 2010.

GotCredit | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1TPsTLr

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis just released a report about various kinds of debt and how it is impacting different populations in St. Louis, Memphis, Little Rock and Louisville. Spoiler alert: yes, student loan debt is still crippling the younger generation…as are car loans.

As the report points out, the delinquency rate for young borrowers has increased since before the recession. Such delinquency rates can mean a host of problems in accessing credit and the ability to save as young Americans start their adult lives.

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