Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District could spend up to $13.5 million demolishing abandoned buildings in the city.

MSD’s board approved an agreement on Thursday with the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority. The move was long in the making. MSD has already demolished about 220 vacant building through a pilot program started back in 2010, and in 2015 the district announced it would do more.

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

Rumors of an executive order about cybersecurity from President Donald Trump have been swirling for the last week, and improving our national cybersecurity has been a political issue for the last couple of years.

On a personal level, hacking, data collection and recording by personal devices all pose threats to personal information security.

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

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway announced Tuesday that her office will audit two Community Improvement Districts in the St. Louis region.

Those include the BaratHaven Community Improvement District in St. Charles County and the North Oaks Plaza Shopping Center in north St. Louis County.

Natalie Clay, a program coordinator at Bio STL, is managing a new collaborative focused on making the local startup community more inclusive to women and people of color.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Even though St. Louis’ tech startup scene is growing, it is not always the most inclusive environment for women and people of color. A group of 12 local nonprofits and government organizations want to change that. 

It's called the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective. Members range from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership to Arch Grants. Their goal is to help ensure women and men of color have equal access to everything an entrepreneur needs, from capital to business support services.  

(courtesy M Properties)

Northside Regeneration’s plans for the old Pruitt-Igoe site became public this week, including a $72 million complex of medical buildings, commercial and office space and two hotels.

Developer Paul McKee’s company bought the 34-acre site from the city for $1 million last summer. Northside Regeneration had held the option for several years, and McKee previously received state approval to build a three-bed urgent care facility within the former federal housing site.

Joe Edwards poses with a green and white trolley car purchased in Seattle for the Loop Trolley.
Synergy Group

The Loop Trolley project is still on track to begin giving rides this spring despite delays in getting some of the street cars to St. Louis.

Construction on the 2.2 mile route between Forest Park and the Delmar Loop wrapped up last fall, but two of the trolleys remain at a facility in Ida Grove, Iowa, for testing.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

South Grand Boulevard is known for its many international restaurants.

“We have 14 countries represented here within our six blocks,” said Rachel Witt. "That’s more than Epcot in Disney World.”

Witt is executive director of the South Grand Community Improvement District, one of the early CIDs in St. Louis. 

Marc Bowers, executive director of St. Louis Makes, and Tom Pickel, executive director of DeSales Community Development
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A building that used to house machines making barber chairs and, later, hats, will someday soon house a variety of small to mid-sized manufacturers looking to “scale up.” The building, located at 2528 Texas Ave. in the Fox Park neighborhood, will contain about 87,000-square-feet of manufacturing space and will be known as Brick City Makes.

Atomation CEO and co-founder Guy Weitzman speaks a press conference on Friday morning.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Atomation is a startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel, but the company will soon have an office in St. Louis.

The two-year-old tech startup has developed an IoT (internet of things) platform that connects physical objects to the internet. CEO and co-founder Guy Weitzman said the company is already working with four customers in the St. Louis region, including Ameren.

Eric Friendman, the president of Friedman Group Realtors, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss an upcoming conference on "smart growth."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the idea of “smart growth” in the St. Louis region with organizers of an upcoming conference called the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference.

The conference was started in 1995 by the Environmental Protection Agency but has grown to include many other partners. This year, it will take place in St. Louis from Feb. 2-4. 

The Jamestown Mall Dillards in December 2016.
Mike Kalasnik | Flickr

St. Louis County’s effort to redevelop the shuttered Jamestown Mall has hit a snag.

The north St. Louis County mall has been closed for several years. The first step toward redeveloping the structure is classifying the mall as blighted, which allows the county to use eminent domain.  (You can read more about the redevelopment effort here.)

Mark Sundeen, author of "The Unsettlers," followed families who opted to live outside of the traditional American economy.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The trend of rural to urban migration across the world has been well-documented and is going strong. But what about people who migrate the opposite way? Or who choose to live a life outside of the traditional American economy? These people choose a different life with different challenges, but they also make up a community all their own.

St. Louis Outlet Mall
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Erica Holliam used to love shopping at the St. Louis Outlet Mall, or what used to be called the Mills Mall.

That was before all of her favorite stores closed.

“This was my row,” she said pointing to a line of empty stores, tastefully hidden behind colorful curtains. “I used to shop at the Banana Republic and then on the other side there was another store. But obviously I can’t do that anymore.”

St. Louis Public Radio

A federal bankruptcy judge in St. Louis denied a motion Thursday to give shareholders in Peabody Energy an equity committee that would represent their interests during the coal giant’s bankruptcy.

Judge Barry Schermer delivered his ruling after the hearing, and said the cost of creating an equity committee was not justified if there was no equity to offer shareholders.

Peabody’s reorganization plan, released in December, calls for zeroing out shareholders’ equity.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 17 with comments from Bayer, Monsanto and Trump administration - More details are emerging about Bayer's possible acquisition of St. Louis-based Monsanto. The companies and the incoming Trump administration on Tuesday provided some specifics about job numbers and investment levels.

In a joint statement, Bayer and Monsanto said there are plans to invest $16 billion in agricultural research and development over six years, with at least $8 billion of that in the United States.

Protesters gathered outside a downtown St. Louis Hardees on Thursday in opposition to Donald Trump's selection for Labor Secretary
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, is getting criticism on his home turf.

The St. Louis native is CEO of the company that owns Hardees and Carl’s Junior, CKE Restaurants.

About 50 protesters gathered outside Hardees headquarters in downtown St. Louis on Thursday, questioning whether the fast food CEO would really represent workers’ interests. They then walked a couple of blocks to stand in front of a Hardees restaurant.

The Fashion Incubator takes up 7,500 square-feet of a Washington Avenue building on what used to be known as Shoe Street USA.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

A member of the St. Louis Fashion Incubator's first class is counting on several factors to help his business grow, compared to its previous base in New York City: lower operating costs, cheaper cost of living and industry guidance.

Scottrade secured the naming-rights for the home of the National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues in 2006.
.bobby | Flickr

On Friday’s "Behind the Headlines" on St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the top stories of the week with those who brought a little more in-depth knowledge to them.

On this week’s program, we discussed:

The Monsanto-Bayer acquisition with Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Applicant Yashica McKinney talks with Lynette Watson with the St. Louis Small Business Development Center on Jan. 4, 2017, at the restaurant contest event. The Parks sign is from a former business in the building, according to a competition co-sponsor.
File | Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A contest offering a free restaurant space catty-cornered from Crown Candy Kitchen on St. Louis Avenue is hitting its stride.

More than 100 people have contacted organizers about the Fantasy Food Fare Business Competition. Today, in the first of two informational meetings, a half-dozen toured the 4,000-square-foot space at 2720 N. 14th Street.

Lynette Watson of the St. Louis Small Business Development Center hopes a new eating establishment will lead to other opportunities in the area.

The field at Busch Stadium had a music theme to mark the Winter Classic between the Blues and Blackhawks on Jan. 2, 2017.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

It was a celebration of hockey between two rivals and a chess match with Mother Nature.

The St. Louis Blues won both.

The 1972 St. Louis Stars played in the North American Soccer League championship, losing to New York.
Jan Reinertsen | nasljerseys.com|

The effort by backers of a potential Major League Soccer expansion franchise for St. Louis has some fans reflecting on the history of the sport in the region. That includes memories of a top-level professional team in late 1960s through the mid-1970s called the St. Louis Stars.

Jennifer Franklin at a CoderGirl meeting Dec. 2016
Launch Code

Last winter, Kimberly Vaughn and DeAnna Tipton both found themselves needing a career change.

Vaughn, 41, said she was “tattered and worn” of the industry she was in and was struggling as a single mother. Tipton, 25, was simply fed up with her job.

Although neither had a technology background, they both decided to attend the CoderGirl meet-up group at LaunchCode, a nonprofit that offers free training courses in coding at 4811 Delmar Blvd. in the Central West End.

Kirkwood officials say there have been years where more than 540,000 visitors have gone through the station.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis County community is launching an effort to pay for massive renovation of a prominent landmark. The Kirkwood Train Station Foundation wants to bring in money to fix up the structure, which was originally built in 1893.

The goal is to raise $3 million.

St. Louis Public Radio's Wayne Pratt and Maria Altman have reported on all the big issues in St. Louis business throughout 2016.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the year in business news in the region — from NGA to Monsanto — with the reporters who know the subject best.

St. Louis Public Radio reporters Maria Altman and Wayne Pratt joined the program and shared the stories they thought shaped the region this year.

(courtesy Project Connect)

The city of St. Louis officially owns all the land of the proposed new $1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency facility.

The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority closed on the last of the 551 parcels this month.

Soon the LCRA, the NGA and the Army Corps of Engineers will sign an options agreement for the land. Once they do, the city will have exactly one year to prepare the site.

Sparkle Burns, a community coach with Jobs Plus, entertains Kylie Short while the 9-month-old's mother works on her resume at Clinton-Peabody's Al Chappelle Center in December 2015.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This time last year, Sparkle Burns sometimes had to go to a food pantry to make sure there was dinner on her table.

But with the help of a new job training program at her public housing complex, the single mom was able to get her daughter into the Head Start program, where she also found a part-time job as a community coach.

Then in April she landed a full-time job — with benefits — at an accounting firm.

Peabody describes itself as the world's largest private-sector coal company
Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy is mapping out its plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection next spring.

The coal company has filed a financial reorganization proposal with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis that calls for shedding more than $5 billion in debt and eventually issuing new common stock. Current shareholders would not receive anything and might oppose the plan.

Photo of three dogs and their handlers at Lambert Airport.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

The Transportation Security Administration has increased its security staff at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport by more than 30 people in time for the busy Christmas holiday travel season.  

The boost in personnel this year will coincide with an expected 11 percent increase in travelers, said Missouri’s Federal Security Director Jim Spriggs.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated  at 3 p.m. Dec. 19  with news of the bill signing — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for 2,000 laid-off Granite City steelworkers.

The legislature this month approved the proposal that will provide 52 weeks of benefits, instead of the current 26 for eligible workers.

“This legislation will help the hard working families of the Metro East who lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Rauner said, in a statement. 

Much of Monroe County bordering the Mississippi River is in a flood plain. This view of the plain is from the bluffs near Valmeyer in 2013.
File Photo | Mary Leonard | St. Louis Beacon

Only 14 counties nationwide have a lower poverty rate than Monroe County, Illinois, located directly south of St. Louis, according to a new census report.

The mostly agricultural area located across the Mississippi River from Jefferson County had a median household income of just under $80,000 in 2015, and about 5 percent of the population was considered low-income.

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