Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

File photo: Customers line up outside Crown Candy Kitchen, which sits across from 2720 N. 14th Street. (June 5, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Some lucky St. Louisan is one step closer to winning a free restaurant space in the Old North neighborhood, across from Crown Candy Kitchen.

The Fantasy Food Fare Business Competition has announced its top 10 finalists for a package worth $100,000. Lynette Watson of the St. Louis Small Business Development Center said the list represents a wide variety of concepts. (See the full list below.)

“We have everything from French fusion, all the way to desserts and soul food,” Watson said.

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Even though the Missouri legislature has passed a bill that essentially blocks the city of St. Louis from raising its minimum wage, economists are weighing in on how the region could be affected by increasing that rate to $10 an hour.

The legislation is awaiting Gov. Eric Greitens signature and St. Louis Federal Reserve Regional Economist Charles Gascon has co-written a research paper in an attempt to examine several questions, including exactly how many city residents would be directly affected by allowing the city's minimum wage to go up.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Tax incentives in St. Louis have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, both from within city government and among citizens' groups.

Now the St. Louis Development Corporation, the agency that recommends whether a development should receive the city’s help, is proposing some reforms.

House for sale
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The St. Louis County Assessor's office has started informal conferences with property owners concerned their taxes are too high.

Assessor Jake Zimmerman says the average county property value has gone up roughly 7 percent, compared to the last review a couple of years ago. He attributes the increase, in part, to a hotter real estate market, with properties selling faster and for more money.  

Rendering of the proposed apartment building at Clayton Avenue and Graham Street.
Courtesy of Pearl Companies

Updated with TIF Commission's vote Wednesday

A $26 million apartment building project has received the first round of approval for tax incentives from the city of St. Louis.

The Tax Increment Financing Commission approved a $3.8 million TIF for the project at Clayton Ave. and Graham St. on Wednesday. 

The International Institute in St. Louis provides integration services for more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees each year.
File photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

The International Institute of St. Louis is seeking ambassadors of sorts.

The organization that provides integration services for more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees each year is recruiting volunteers to help spread the word about how those foreign-born residents benefit the community.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is the largest local branch of any other Urban League in the country.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sheila Beckham’s house was leaking heat last winter, she thought back to when her great-grandfather repaired his home.

“I remembered that the Urban League came and fixed his doors and the windows, and they were still in the same place, so I figured they could help me too,” said Beckham, a lifelong St. Louis resident. “They came to my house and helped me with my windows and doors too, got me a water heater and a furnace.”

Courtesy of Scott Air Force Base

Back in 1917, it was known as Scott Field.

The U.S. had just entered World War I, and the War Department leased 624 acres near Belleville, Illinois, to help train pilots to send to Europe. The field was named after Cpl. Frank Scott, the first enlisted service member to be killed in an aviation crash. 

Today, Scott Air Force Base covers more than 3,500 acres and employs 13,000 military and civilian service members. It’s also home to more than 30 mission partners, including the U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command and the 18th Air Force.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s the chicken or the egg argument.

Should city aldermen meet with stakeholders and then craft a bill? Or should the bill be proposed and then brought to the public for input?

St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, 15th Ward, prefers the first approach when it comes to developing Community Benefits Agreements legislation.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 15 with comments from Gov. Greitens — Governor Eric Greitens says the Missouri Partnership will be funded.

The business recruiting arm of the state was expected to get $2.25 million in state funding, but Missouri legislators eliminated the line item completely in the budget for next fiscal year.

Boeing's T-X could mean 1,800 direct and in-direct jobs in St. Louis, should the Air Force award the contract to the company. May 2017
Provided | Boeing

Boeing officials announced Monday the company’s decision to assemble the T-X training jet in St. Louis, meaning approximately 1,800 direct and in-direct jobs for the region.

But those jobs depend on whether the U.S. Air Force gives Boeing and Saab the contract later this year. Lockheed Martin and the Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50A and the Italian company Leonardo along with its U.S. subsidiary DRS are also competing for the aircraft, which will replace the T-38.

Elected officials, including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, pledged support to help Boeing win the bid.

The Wealth Accumulation Center is located at 2828 Gravois Ave., and is a partnerships between Prosperity Connection and the St. Louis Community Credit Union. May 2017
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The Wealth Accumulation Center is focused on helping low-income St. Louis residents with their finances.

The new building at 2828 Gravois Ave., in the Benton Park neighborhood, combines traditional banking, a short-term lender and financial education. It’s the latest collaboration between the St. Louis Community Credit Union and Prosperity Connection.

39 North Master Plan, Ayers Saint Gross

The public can hear more about plans for 39 North, the 600-acre plant science innovation district in Creve Coeur, on Thursday night.

The Danforth Center is hosting the discussion, which will include panelists Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz, Travis Sheridan,  CIC Venture Café Global Institute President, and Sheila Sweeney,  St. Louis Economic Development Partnership CEO .

Revelers crowd Cherokee Street at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2016.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

“It was the wildest Cinco de Mayo party I have ever experienced,” recalled Angel Jimenez-Gutierrez remembering his first May 5 in Missouri.

It was 2002 and he was working at a Mexican restaurant in Rock Hill. Jimenez-Gutierrez had just moved to the United States from Mexico where Cinco de Mayo has never been widely celebrated.

St. Louis' Civil Courthouse - May 2017
Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

Businesses in St. Louis will have to pay their employees at least $10 an hour starting Friday, rather than the state's minimum of $7.70.

A circuit court judge lifted an injunction against a city ordinance on Thursday, a little over a week after the Missouri Supreme Court declined to reconsider its February ruling upholding the law

Dan Lauer, Allison Bischoff and Brian Dixon joined St. Louis on the Air to talk about entrepreneurship in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A new business accelerator program seeks to put entrepreneurs on a fast track to advancing innovative energy solutions.

The application deadline to the competitive Ameren Accelerator program is May 12th.

Each year for the next three years, five to seven recipients will receive office space in the Cortex Innovation Community and $100,000 in exchange for 8 percent equity in the company – all told, about $1 million in perks and benefits that are part of the highly structured 12-week program.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis citizens group wants the city to be more transparent when it comes to tax incentives.

Team TIF is asking the city's Board of Aldermen to pass three proposals and has even drafted the language:

(Flickr, Marcie Casas)

A new cybersecurity apprenticeship program is about to begin in the St. Louis region.

The Midwest Cyber Center is partnering with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, known as SLATE, to launch the 18-month apprenticeship.

The Cybersecurity Analyst Registered Apprenticeship  is aimed at those who are at least 18, with a high school diploma or G.E.D. Midwest Cyber Center Executive Director Tony Bryan said they wanted to attract those with little experience into the field.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated on 4/26/2017 with comments from Sen. Will Kraus

The state of Missouri collected $435 million in corporate income tax revenue in fiscal year 2015.

That plummeted to $280 million last year.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
via Flickr/Michael R. Allen

The Federal Aviation Administration has accepted the city of St. Louis’ preliminary application into an airport privatization pilot program.

The U.S. Department of Transportation made the announcement on Monday. Secretary Elaine L. Chao said the acceptance demonstrates the administration’s commitment to using innovative financing strategies to revitalize the nation’s aviation infrastructure.

Centene groundbreaking, Clayton, April 21, 2017
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Centene has taken another big step in expanding its downtown Clayton headquarters. The managed care company for Medicaid recipients held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the $770 million project.

The event featured officials from throughout the region, including new St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and Missouri Gov. Eric Grietens. While preliminary work on the project has been underway for months, Friday marked the ceremonial start of construction.

Consumer groups claim measures of the Illinois Statehouse could mean the end of traditional landline service. AT&T says it's part of the ongoing shift to modern technology, which is reliable.
tylerdurden1 | Flickr

Consumer rights groups in Illinois are leading the opposition to proposals before the state legislature that they say could end traditional landline phone service. They claim AT&T wants to shift customers to more expensive plans. But the telecommunications company says that conclusion is not accurate.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Outrageous.

That’s the word Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway used over and over to describe her office’s findings after an audit into the state’s 205 Transportation Development Districts.

“The average citizen is getting taken advantage of here,” Galloway said Monday at a news conference to release the report. “It’s outrageous that there’s almost $1 billion in project costs that taxpayers are on the hook for. They don’t know about it and they didn’t vote for it.”

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

Peabody Energy has emerged from bankruptcy with less debt and a shift in focus. The St. Louis-based coal company spent roughly a year under Chapter 11 protection and some of the same industry-wide challenges remain – government regulation and cheaper energy producing options, such as natural gas.

In a release when Peabody emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month, Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow sounded upbeat.

Portfolio of Missouri Technology Corporation

If you throw a rock in the St. Louis startup ecosystem, you’ll likely hit a company that’s gotten some of its investment funds from the Missouri Technology Corporation.

The Missouri General Assembly established the public-private partnership in 1994 to promote entrepreneurism and grow high-tech companies. MTC has co-invested about $35 million in nearly 100 startups since 2011, many of them based in St. Louis.

That investment may dry up soon.

Flickr | TerryJohnston

Updated July 18 with deal closing - Panera Bread is no longer a locally-owned company. The $7.5 billion acquisition by European business group J-A-B Holding Company was completed Tuesday morning. The deal takes Panera private and its shares are no longer trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Matthew Desmond and Kalila Jackson discussed the prevalence of evictions across the United States and in St. Louis on Monday's St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Evictions used to be rare enough in the United States that the government never made an effort to track them on a federal level. That’s changing.

St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy will again trade on the New York Stock Exchange beginning on Tuesday, as they announced that they're emerging from bankruptcy.

It will be under its old ticker symbol BTU, but company officials are calling it a new day.

“We believe that ‘The New BTU’ is well positioned to create substantial value for shareholders and other stakeholders over time,” said Peabody President and CEO Glenn Kellow in a press release.

The coal company says it shed about $5 billion in debt from the time it filed for Chapter 11 in April 2016.

Provded: Ameren

Ameren Corporation is launching an energy accelerator with the help of the University of Missouri system, UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators.

President and CEO Warner Baxter said on Friday the utility will invest $100,000 each in five to seven startups chosen to participate in the Ameren Accelerator program.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The two-story brick home at 3735 California St. got a second chance.

The property, owned by the city of St. Louis' Land Reutilization Authority, was slated for demolition. Then Alderwoman Cara Spencer, 20th Ward, had an idea: take money for demolition and put it toward stabilizing the building in the heart of the Gravois Park neighborhood.

The city’s Building Commissioner, Frank Oswald, agreed. Rather than spending $10,000 to tear it down, the division spent $14,000 for roof work and tuck-pointing.

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