Economy & Innovation

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

(via Flickr/_J_D_R)

St. Charles County residents will be receiving their property value assessments next month, preliminary numbers show that overall residential values have slid downward over the past two years.

County Assessor Scott Shipman says in general, residential property values are down about 4 percent.

He says foreclosures and new developments that were left vacant during the recession are largely to blame for the overall decline.  

Our Adam Allington asked a selection of St. Louisans to finish the sentence 'You know you're wealthy when..." for Marketplace. Check out the answers via the link.

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Real estate agents in the St. Louis area say it is no longer a buyer's market.

Our Adam Allington reports for Marketplace.

Erin Williams

After only two years of doing business in north St. Louis, the grocery store known as the Old North Grocery Co-Op may soon close down.

Store manager Jill Whitmann says re-vamping the co-op’s business model to rely primarily on volunteers will help shore up more funds before the end of May, when the budget will tighten.

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Mayors from more than a dozen cities and towns along the Mississippi River rallied Thursday in the nation’s capital for more federal attention for the waterway.

The mayors, members of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, will work with the newly-formed Mississippi River Caucus. That's a bi-partisan group of members of Congress. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is co-chair of the initiative.

(Missouri History Museum)

St. Louis has a long had a special relationship with the trolley.  It’s a relationship immortalized by actor and singer Judy Garland in the film Meet Me In St. Louis

Currently, there are independent efforts in St. Louis to revive the presence of a trolley, or as some proponents say, streetcar. 

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has announced $1.2 billion in trade agreements to sell Missouri products to South Korea over the next four years.

Nixon said Thursday that the state had entered into compacts with the Korea International Trade Association, the Korea-U.S. Economic Council and the Korea Importers Association.

While in Seoul, Nixon also met with South Korean government officials and laid a wreath at the Korean War Memorial. The governor says recent threats of war by North Korea's government have not stopped commerce in the region or impacted daily activities.

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So, another week, and yet more news the U.S. housing market is slowly returning to normal.

Numbers released on Tuesday by the Commerce Department show that builders broke ground on homes last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That's up from 910,000 in January. And it's the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December's rate of 982,000.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and labor unions have signed off on an agreement that sets requirements for state-funded bridge and road projects.

Union and church leaders met with Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider at the new Mississippi River Bridge Wednesday, celebrating the new Project Labor Agreement that will set standards for minority and female participation.

The site Under30CEO has included St. Louis on its 2013 list for Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs. St. Louis sits at number 5 in the "Medium Cities" category (for cities with populations between 250,000 and 500,000). Two other Missouri cities made the list: Kansas City at number 4 in the same category as St. Louis - along with college town Columbia, Mo. at number 2 in the small cities category.

(via Wikimedia commons/SSGT CHAD R. GANN, USAF)

Thousands of civilian workers at Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois will soon begin receiving furlough  notices.
The Belleville News Democrat reports workers will be informed that they must take one day per week of unpaid vacation between next month and September because of mandatory federal budget cuts referred to as the "sequester."
The newspaper says the workers will receive the 30-day notices in the mail by the end of the week.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The move to a new building for the St. Louis Police Department is going to be more expensive than first thought.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that bids came in more than $1.6 million over expectations. Now, the move will be delayed until early next year - nearly a year later than the original estimate.

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By a margin of 96-to-4, members of Illinois' largest public employees' union voted to ratify a new contract with the state.

AFSCME and Governor Pat Quinn's administration reached a deal in late February, but in order for it to take effect, a majority of the union's 35,000 members had to agree to it.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says the negotiations may have been the toughest the union has ever experienced.

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The process that started with strikes and Hostess bakery shutdowns (including one in St. Louis) has made another step forward.

A bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of Twinkies to a pair of investment firms.

Hostess Brands Inc. is selling the spongy yellow cakes, along with other snacks including Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, to Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. for $410 million.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

On Monday, the top official with a national miners' union says bankrupt Patriot Coal's bid to cut retiree health care benefits, while seeking millions of dollars for executive bonuses, is immoral.

Patriot Coal spun off from St. Louis-based Peabody in 2007, taking with it an enormous amount of the larger company’s health care obligations. Now that Patriot has declared bankruptcy, the company is looking to cut health care coverage for retired miners.

At a press conference in St. Louis, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts said Patriot was designed to fail.

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Updated 4:04 p.m.

(National Institutes of Health)

Ambulance and fire agencies in Illinois have seen their budgets crunched. Some clients pay using Medicaid,  the Illinois-backed insurance for the poor. But the state is months behind on those payments.

According to Josh Ross, operations manager for America Ambulance in Springfield, Illinois is nearly six months behind. That's a total of $330,000.

"The Medicaid problem is kind of a double-edged sword," Ross said.  "On one is the fact we're not receiving the payments, but the other is the fact that the actual reimbursement is so much lower."

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis-based Patriot Coal Corp. has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to modify collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers of America, allowing the coal company to cut health care coverage for retired miners.

Patriot was created by St. Louis-Based Peabody Energy Corp., as a stand-alone company in 2007.  In creating Patriot, Peabody also transferred a hefty chunk of Peabody’s outstanding pension obligations onto Patriot’s books.

(via Flickr/sekimura)

Updated 2:26 p.m.

Hostess is moving ahead with plans to sell its Twinkies and other snack cakes to two investment firms after no other competitive offers were made.