Economy & Innovation

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

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.

A photo of the Boone Bridge taken from the St. Charles County side of the Missouri River.
Missouri Department of Transportation St. Charles County camera

Updated March 2 with rescheduled demolition — The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to close the section of Interstate 64 leading up to and crossing the Missouri River between St. Charles and St. Louis counties for at least an hour on Monday, March 7. 

Weather permitting, the department will finish demolishing the 1930's era Boone Bridge. The bridge is no longer needed now that traffic has been moved to the adjacent 1980's era bridge and the new Boone Bridge. 

Plant Science Innovation District
(Courtesy St. Louis Economic Development Partnership)

St. Louis is attracting more life science companies and startups.

Now planning is underway for a 575-acre innovation district that will be anchored by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park, and Helix Center Biotech Incubator.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

In a letter to the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a north St. Louis resident is urging the agency make a final decision on its relocation, citing "lives in limbo."

Gustavo Rendon and his wife, Sheila, live within St. Louis’ proposed site and are facing eminent domain proceedings brought by the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

In the letter to NGA director Robert Cardillo, Rendon said he plans to fast and pray until the decision is made.

United Steelworkers Local 50 President Jason Chism says a recent trip to D.C. was a learning experience, especially when it comes to how the federal government deals with trade cases.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

A United Steelworkers local president is trying to remain as upbeat as possible, even though there is no indication when U.S. Steel might resume production in Granite City.

"I'm an optimistic person so my glass always runs half-full, even though it's been running close to empty here lately," USW Local 50 President Jason Chism told St. Louis Public Radio Friday.

Eric Johnson, St. Louis Fashion Incubator
St. Louis Fashion Incubator

The once-bustling St. Louis fashion industry could be poised for a rebound and a native with some big-time economic development experience is playing a key role.

Eric Johnson is the first executive director of the St. Louis Fashion Incubator. He is back home after spending several years as an economic development official in New York City, including serving as head of the city’s fashion and arts initiative.

(Courtesy GlobalHack)

GlobalHack VI will likely get attention in the computer programming world.

The St. Louis-based hackathon is offering a total of $1 million in cash prizes, making it one of the few hackathons in the U.S. to put up that kind of money.

"There have only been two hackathons in the history of hackathons that have put on an event with $1 million in cash," said Global Hack executive director Matt Menietti. "Those were by Salesforce a couple years ago, so we’re certainly in a different league now."

East-West Gateway Council of Governments

The number of minority-owned businesses in the St. Louis region has shown substantial growth in recent years, expanding faster than any of the other 50 most populous metro areas in the country.

The owner of Bob’s Quality Market, at 2708 N. Florissant Aven., has reached an agreement to sell the store to Family Dollar. Alderwoman Tammika Hubbar opposes the discount chain's move into the neighborhood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis officials often cite “decades of disinvestment” in their bid to get the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to move to the north side.

Just a few blocks away from the proposed site, Family Dollar is proposing a store on North Florissant Avenue.

coal
(flickr, Atze van Dijk)

Bob Sandidge has been in the coal industry for 40 years.

But he’s never seen it this bad.

"You turn around and one company lays off people, and another company just filed for bankruptcy and another company is cutting way back,"” he said.

The co-owner of S & L Industries in Saline County, Illinois, Sandidge does contract work in coal mines. He said even small business owners in the area are beginning to feel the effects of coal’s downturn.

"It’s been pretty quiet around here," he said.

futureatlas.com | Flickr

A federal mandate and a record supply are leading to the low gas prices in the St. Louis area. The monitoring site GasBuddy.com says the average price at the pump is $1.56 a gallon (as of Feb. 12), roughly 60 cents cheaper than a year ago.

And even with a recent spike in the past couple of days, at least one expert says prices are still poised to go even lower.

barge shipping, Mississippi River
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A barge and transportation industry group is sharply criticizing the president’s budget request for river infrastructure and upkeep.

Waterways Council Inc. called President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for the U.S. Army Corps the "most disappointing to date." The budget proposes $4.6 billion for the Corps’ civil works program, nearly 30 percent less than the current appropriation by Congress.

Peabody Energy Logo
Peabody Energy

Updated 12:49 p.m., Feb. 11 with Peabody Energy's earnings report - St. Louis-based Peabody Energy is  still speaking with creditors and is open to more asset sales as it deals with huge debt and a deep industry downturn. It is reporting a full-year loss of slightly more than $2 billion, compared to a loss of less than half that for 2014.

Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow says Peabody has made several moves to improve its financial picture, include selling operations in New Mexico and Colorado, but more needs to be done.

The U.S. Department of Defense has included an order of 16 F/A 18 Super Hornets in their budget for the next two years.
(via Boeing)

The new U.S. Department of Defense budget request could provide breathing room for Boeing production in St. Louis. 

(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

A long-time, St. Louis-based corporation and a local startup accelerator are teaming up.

Maritz and Capital Innovators announced Monday that they will co-lease space in the innovation district Cortex as part of a four-year partnership.

Cue the theme music from The Odd Couple.

Maritz is a 125-year-old sales and marketing services company, while Capital Innovators is a tech accelerator founded in 2010. Officials with each organization said they’ll gain from the other’s knowledge and exchange best practices.

Grace Baptist Church, on Cass Avenue, as seen from the site of the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee has held a $1 million option to buy the former Pruitt-Igoe site from the city of St. Louis for three years.

That option was set to expire later this month.

But the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority extended McKee’s option for the second time in three years during a closed meeting. It was part of an agreement the city made with McKee to buy land he owns within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on St. Louis’ north side.

1. Northside developer McKee leaves city taxes unpaid.

Northside Regeneration owns 15-hundred acres in St. Louis.

But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman discovered... developer Paul McKee’s company has not paid property taxes on most of that land since 2012.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, took a House colleague and local media members for a bus tour of St. Louis’ proposed site for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Just a few hours before, the city moved a sign protesting the NGA and police arrested two protesters.

The original Monsanto was founded in St. Louis in 1901.
Monsanto

On the same day the company paid out dividends to shareholders of 54 cents, Monsanto held its annual meeting.

Shareholders elected 13 members of the board of directors to one-year terms. They also approved the company’s executive compensation plan, ratified the hiring of accounting firm Deloitte and Touche, and approved the company’s performance goals.

Three shareowner proposals failed.

The Ferris Wheel moving to Branson from Chicago
Terence Faircloth | Flickr

It’s not a hoax—Chicago’s Navy Pier Ferris wheel is moving to Branson. The Track Family Fun Parks is paying $2.5 million to install the wheel in the Ozarks tourist town.

Known for its go-carts and bumper boats, CEO Craig Wescott said The Track had been thinking of adding a Ferris wheel for some time, and jumped on the opportunity to buy the Navy Pier wheel.

Updated 2:30 p.m.,  Jan. 29, to include court hearing information - Several property owners were in St. Louis Circuit Court Friday regarding land they own within a proposed site for a federal spy agency.

The city of St. Louis has been able to reach agreement with owners for nearly all the land it needs for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. But for 31 parcels, there’s still no resolution and the city has taken those property owners to court in condemnation proceedings.

Front of building for HCI Alternatives
(courtesy HCI Alternatives)

The 5,000-square foot facility is the first of its kind in the Metro East.

One of just 23 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Illinois, HCI Alternatives opened its doors at noon on Monday in Collinsville.

"It’s been a very long road, and we’re all really excited," said Scott Abbott, director of HCI security and compliance, "and I know a lot of the patients who have been calling us are equally excited."

While former Governor Pat Quinn signed Illinois’ Compassionate Care Act into law in August 2013, legal marijuana sales did not begin until November.

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

Updated 1:23 p.m., Jan. 27 with U.S. Steel earnings - U.S. Steel is not anticipating a strong year and that could further cloud the uncertain future for its Granite City operation. Under current conditions, the company says it expects lower results this year, compared to the $1.5 billion loss it posted for all of 2015.

Sandy Evans helps her parents clear out the basement of the house she grew up in on Oak Court in Arnold on Monday afternoon. Floodwater from the Meramec River damaged the basement, which housed a spare bedroom and a bathroom.
file photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10:45 a.m., Jan. 24 with information from FEMA—Hundreds of thousands of federal dollars are available to Missourians whose homes were damaged in flooding between Dec. 23 and Jan. 9, now that President Barrack Obama has declared 33 counties a major disaster area.

But figuring out whether you qualify for aid can be confusing. So we enlisted the help of Jono Anzalone, who oversees American Red Cross disaster relief for Missouri, to create a FAQ for FEMA applications.

Monsanto Sign
Provided by Monsanto

Monsanto Co. filed suit against a California state agency Thursday to keep it from including glyphosate on a list of cancer-causing chemicals.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said in September it planned to put the herbicide on its Proposition 65 list. That list, created in 1986, includes chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that St. Louis-based Monsanto patented in the 1970s under the RoundUp label.

Courtesy | Ameren Corporation

Promoting diversity within a corporation is nothing new.

But Ameren Corporation announced Thursday it will make its new "Discussion Across Differences" videos and materials available to other groups, free of charge.

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