Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 could bring big infrastructure changes to Missouri, but local engineering and commerce experts say it could be hard for the state to compete for federal dollars.

The budget promises to “generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment” by dedicating $200 billion over 10 years to projects like improving roads, expanding internet access in rural areas, and developing creative approaches to transit, energy, water and building. Of that, $100 billion would be awarded as competitive grants to states and local governments who pursue projects “demonstrating innovative approaches” to infrastructure.

GlobalSTL

A partnership with Washington University is bringing another Israeli startup to St. Louis.

MDClone is working with researchers at the Institute for Informatics at Washington University School of Medicine. As part of the agreement, Wash U will be the first institution outside of Israel to have access to MDClone’s health care data platform. The platform offers a solution to a key issue in health care: how to conduct research while protecting patient privacy.

HCI Alternatives in Collinsville is one of 53 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed by the State of Illinois
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state's program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

Scaffolding borders large interpretive floor art that traces the paths explorers and pioneers took westward from St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Monday talked about renovations taking place at the Gateway Arch in advance of a planned reopening date of July 3.

Joining the discussion was Ryan McClure, director of communications and activation at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. St. Louis on the Air producer Alex Heuer also joined the conversation.

Gov. Eric Greitens delivers the 2018 State of the State address in Jefferson City.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

Gov. Eric Greitens talks often about growing jobs in Missouri.

It was one of the major themes in the Republican governor’s State of the State address last month. He told members of the state House and Senate that he would continue to focus on several areas to create jobs:

“Making sure that we have the right laws on the books to be fair to family businesses, and making strategic investments in education, infrastructure, and workforce development,” Greitens said.

Yet just a few days later, the governor proposed a roughly $68 million reduction for public colleges and universities. The suggested cuts to higher education for the second year in a row drew criticism almost immediately, including from Greiten’s own party.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly calls for mapping the state's more than 2,200 special tax districts. 

The number of such districts has exploded over the last 10 years, according to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters. He said in some areas the layering of districts has pushed sales tax rates up in "a considerable way."

St. Louis is accepting applications for a company to operate a "dockless" bike share system in the city. Officials hope a service will be operating some time this year.
CityofStPete | Flickr

St. Louis officials are shifting gears to bring a bike share program to city residents and visitors.

The St. Louis Board of Alderman Friday approved the permit application to run what’s known as a “dockless” bike share program. Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, the bill’s sponsor, is hopeful a company will be up and pedaling later this year.

A proposed hyperloop transportation system would connect Missouri’s two major metropolitan hubs.
provided | VectorSTL

A proposed hyperloop would transport people between Missouri’s two major hubs in under 30 minutes.

A feasibility study will get underway in February to look at whether it makes sense to go forward with the route. The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, comprised of public and private groups, raised the $1.5 million funding for the study and made the announcement Tuesday.

A Buddeez factory worker removes a plastic bin from the conveyor belt. Plastic bins are one of the many products Buddeez manufactures. (Jan 12 2018)
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri company is benefiting big from Walmart’s effort to boost manufacturing in the United States.

Buddeez Inc., which makes milk crates, plastic storage bins and other products for Walmart and other retailers in Union, is in the midst of an expansion. Its growth is part of Walmart’s 10-year initiative to invest $250 billion in each of the 50 states.

Adolphus Pruitt, St. Louis City NAACP Branch President, shakes hands with Brian Hoelscher, MSD executive director and CEO, at MSD's headquarters in January 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 26 with more details from MSD's research — The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District announced Thursday that it has made strides in hiring more women and minorities for contract work. 

The NAACP and minority advocacy groups like MOKAN have pushed the sewer utility for several years to make more diverse hires for its contractual engineering and construction work. They stepped up such efforts after a Clean Water Act settlement in 2011 required the MSD to spend $4.7 billion on sewer upgrades over the next two decades. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided NAFTA-related estimates for all states. It has concluded that doing away with the agreement would have a significant impact on Missouri's economy.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The fate of tens of thousands of Missouri jobs could hinge on trade talks set to resume this week in Montreal. Negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico will gather for another round of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The U.S. wants to rework the deal, or possibly withdraw altogether.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says roughly 250,000 jobs in Missouri could be affected if the Trump administration decides to leave NAFTA.

provided | Better Business Bureau

Consumers in the St. Louis region reported losses of nearly $200,000 to the Better Business Bureau last year due to scams.

The non-profit said its online Scam Tracker recorded 953 scams throughout the area in 2017.

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

Fairfield Processing, the manufacturer known for its Poly-Fil brand of synthetic stuffing material, will bring more than 100 jobs to St. Louis’ North Riverfront neighborhood. Wednesday’s announcement came after the manufacturer moved its facility from Granite City to St. Louis last summer.

The relocation brought 50 full-time jobs with it, but company officials said they plan to add another 100 jobs in the next five years.

Stan Shoun (left) and Chris Mallow (right)  address the lack of skilled workers in the region.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

There are plenty of well-paying jobs open across the region and country looking to be filled – but there is a shortage of skilled workers to fill them.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the shortage of skilled tradesmen and women in the region. Chris Mallow, director of standard products at Watlow, and Ranken Technical College president Stan Shoun joined the discussion to address what can be done moving forward.

Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine | Flickr

Airbnb, the popular home-sharing and rental website, announced Wednesday it will begin collecting Missouri’s 4.2 percent state sales tax for its hosts. 

The company reached an agreement with the Missouri Department of Revenue to allow Airbnb to collect and remit the state sales tax for the company’s bookings, starting Feb. 1.

Closures of popular and long-standing St. Louis businesses began in late 2017.
Barry Schwartz | Flickr

It’s hard to say goodbye. But in 2018, St. Louis-area residents will have to get used to several long-standing businesses not being around anymore.

Retail retirement

The bad news for loyal J.C. Penney shoppers: The retail chain is permanently closing its St. Louis store in the Hampton Village Plaza shopping center. After nearly 70 years in business, the store's last day will be Jan. 21.

The good news for bargain hunters: A liquidation sale will begin on Jan. 2.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - The Shady Oak theater has bowed to the wrecking ball. While some may see this as a time for goodbyes, I suspect that those who actually patronized the theater paid their last respects long ago.

Tax expert Lance Weiss talks  about actions people can take before the end of the year to minimize their tax liability for 2017.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

As we reach the end of the year, we talk to our go-to tax expert for tips. On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to expert Lance Weiss, a CPA and partner with SFW Partners, LLC, about actions people can take before the end of the year to minimize their tax liability for 2017.

Weiss also addressed the new tax reform law that will affect next year’s tax liability.

Some suggestions for this year:

UPS estimates it will handle about 750 million deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. That's up five percent from 2016.
UPS

They watch homes in your neighborhood, looking for packages left on stoops and doorsteps. Before you know it, porch pirates swoop in and swipe your holiday deliveries.

Wayne Pratt (left) and Maria Altman (right) talk about the top business stories of 2017.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we did a year-in-review of the top business stories in 2017. Joining host Don Marsh for the discussion were St. Louis Public Radio’s business reporters Maria Altman and Wayne Pratt.

“It was a year of talking about stadiums,” Altman said. “It was kind of an interesting year in terms of sports teams and efforts to get great stadiums in St. Louis.”

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