Economy & Innovation

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

It’s hard to tell how much impact St. Louis’ 1 percent earnings tax has on attracting businesses to the city. Arguments over the effects of the tax are largely anecdotal.

That’s in part because not much research has been done on the subject over the last 20 years, according to Sarah Coffin, a professor of Urban Planning and Development at Saint Louis University.

(courtesy Powers Insurance and Benefits)

Powers Insurance and Benefits has been in Clayton for nearly 25 years.

Now the family-owned business is making the move to the city of St. Louis.

"There really is no location like this in Clayton, so the city’s giving us something too, which is a very visible site," said CEO Pierce Powers. "You’ll see our signage from the highway."

U Kitchen

If you’re searching for a way to eat freshly cooked meals without compromising quality or spending too much time at the grocery store, a local startup may have the solution. Brian Park, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, is a co-founder of U Kitchen, a new startup that seeks to bring fresh food directly to customers’ doorsteps.

An aerial view of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at 3200 South 2nd Street.
NGA

The likely winner of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's new facility will be made public this week. A report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday will include the preferred location for the NGA's new west headquarters.

(Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

Home ownership rates across the country continue to decline and an economist at the St. Louis Federal Reserve says there are two potential factors at play. Bill Emmons points to a potential new-normal scenario and the possibility that housing ownership remains in downward cycle that has lasted for roughly two-decades.

GreenLeaf Market, ZOOM Store
(courtesy Northside Regeneration)

Northside Regeneration developer Paul McKee’s plan for a nearly two-square mile area of north St. Louis, has had many false starts.

"This is the most difficult urban project in the country, and it’s taken me years to assemble the land," McKee said Wednesday.

St. Louis certified public accountant Lance Weiss talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Tuesday at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

State and federal income taxes are due April 18, a deviation from years past, when they are normally due by April 15. Missourians who live in areas that were impacted by last year’s flooding also have a little more time to file, with a deadline of May 16, because of a tax relief issued by the IRS.

Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory
Maria Altman |St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Osher can’t imagine how anyone could think of tearing his building down.

"You see that piece of wood?" he asks pointing to a massive rafter. "That’s old growth Douglas fir. You can’t get that anymore."

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis’ work to gain control 100 acres of the north side is not over yet.

This week the city amended its eminent domain lawsuit, adding 13 more properties. The original suit, filed late last year, included 31 parcels.

Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s hard to imagine a time in which laptops, iPhone and satellite television weren’t immediately accessible and yet, in 1991, those opportunities were merely considered a brave new world. Imagine trying to set up a system of governance for a world that doesn’t exist yet. That’s exactly what former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Alfred C. Sikes, a Missouri native, was tasked with doing.

As the New York Times wrote in 1991:

(Peabody Energy, via Wikipedia Commons)

Peabody Energy has three coal mines in far southern Illinois, all of which are still producing coal.

When those mines eventually shut down, the company is required by state and federal laws to pay for the clean-up and reclamation of the land. St. Louis-based Peabody has guaranteed the state of Illinois it has the estimated $92 million to cover that work.

But as the company considers bankruptcy, some question whether the St. Louis-based company’s promise is worth much.

Peabody Energy
(St. Louis Public Radio)

Peabody Energy says it may have to file for bankruptcy.

The St. Louis-based coal company filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A year ago the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis announced its Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson.

A few months later a groundbreaking on the site of the former burned-out QuikTrip on W. Florissant Ave. drew a big crowd. What had become a central place for protests in the days after Michael Brown’s death would soon be a “phoenix rising,” officials said.

Lafayette Industries
(courtesy Lafayette Industries)

Lafayette Industries North Inc. has a unique employment role. The contract packaging company has about 380 developmentally disabled employees working between its two locations in Berkeley and Manchester.

Later this year the company plans to complete a $4.4 million expansion at its Berkeley facility. When the 19,200 square foot expansion is complete, executive director Rob Libera said they plan to hire 70-80 more people.

Updated March 10 at 6:22 p.m. with Metro opening ceremony--Metro transit is celebrating the completion of a new bus center in North St. Louis County.

The $10.3 million facility in Ferguson opens on Monday and will correspond with a redesigned service plan for the north county area. The center includes an indoor waiting area, public restrooms, concessions and free parking.

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.

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