Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

close up of nail heads
Flickr | Ed Ivanushkin

Mid Continent Steel and Wire, a nail manufacturer in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, has been at the center of a media blitz after its plight was publicized by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in front of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a Senate committee hearing last week.

Since the hearing, Mid Continent, alongside household names like Harley-Davidson, Inc., has been declared a likely casualty of the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policies — specifically steel tariffs.

The company, which manufactures 50 percent of the nails made in the United States, laid off 60 of its 500 employees and shuttered a production plant last week.

St. Charles Mayor Sally Faith and St. Charles Police Chief Randy McKinley listen to bar manager Curtis Wilcoxen propose alternative solutions to an ordinance that would require many Main Street St. Charles bars to stop selling alcohol by 11 p.m. 6/26/18
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Owners from Main Street St. Charles restaurants and bars met with city officials Tuesday to propose alternatives to a bill that would ban the sale of alcohol at most bars after 11 p.m.

The proposals included a possible new tax on liquor sales, new parking fees after 9 p.m. and more parking security to reduce crimes on Main Street. Others suggested that bars on Main Street should have to earn at least 60 percent of its revenue from food sales and no more than 40 percent of its revenue from alcohol.

Flight board lambert airport
File photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Sun Country Airlines, a Minnesota-based low-cost carrier, will become the 11th major passenger airline at St. Louis Lambert International Airport this fall, with service to Tampa and Fort Myers.

Starting Oct. 3, the airline will begin nonstop service from St. Louis to Fort Myers, with flights departing on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Nov. 1, it will begin service to Tampa, with flights departing on Thursdays and Sundays.

In addition to St. Louis, the airline also announced new routes from Dallas/Fort Worth and Madison, Wisconsin. Sun Country currently serves 37 markets in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

Tony and Jack Erker are fifth-generation opticians who are challenging online vendors with a brick-and-mortar experience where customers can watch frames being made in a mini factory. June 2018
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

Brothers Jack and Tony Erker did not want to go into the family optical business.

They spent years pursuing other careers to take them far from the shop at Sixth and Olive streets in downtown St. Louis, where it all started in 1879. But it’s hard to resist five generations of history, not to mention the entrepreneurial DNA embedded in their genes.

This spring Jack and Tony opened Copper Hinge, a brick-and-mortar optical shop in the Delmar Loop.    The brothers envisioned a new way to sell eyeglasses, one that’s not available online or in other stores.

Regional freight leaders (from left) Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Mary Lamie and Mike McCarthy discussed the key role that St. Louis could play in the evolving world of logistics.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

National freight volume is expected to grow significantly over the next 30 years according to regional leaders who want to ensure that St. Louis captures a share of the increase in traffic. Mary Lamie is one of them, and she’s hopeful about the possibilities ahead considering the Gateway City’s existing infrastructure and assets.

“We are strategically located in the United States for freight movements,” Lamie, the executive director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway, said Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air. “We’re home to six Class I railroads, four interstates, two international air-cargo airports – and we have some of the best manufacturing logistics supply chains within the nation.”

BriAsia Warren trains new employee Uraiesha Shelton at Beyond Sweet. Customers can order specialty shakes like The New Yorker, topped with a piece of cheesecake, and the Chocoholic. June 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

At Beyond Sweet, an ice cream and snack shop in the Delmar Loop, two teens are practicing the art of of building mountain peaks of whipped cream.

For now, they’re practicing on pieces of paper, but soon they’ll move onto topping real sundaes and shakes for customers.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Michael R. Allen | Flickr

A proposal to explore privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport has finally been cleared for takeoff.

The City’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted Wednesday to approve a contract with an advisory team charged with soliciting proposals from private firms to manage and oversee the operations of the airport.

The board is made up of Mayor Lyda Krewson, Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and Comptroller Darlene Green. Krewson and Reed voted to approve the contract, while Green voted no.

Fur traders Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau are credited with settling The Landing's original nine-block area in 1764.
LacledesLanding.com

An effort to revitalize a once-bustling section of downtown St. Louis is underway. Developers are pumping roughly $20 million into Laclede's Landing for retail, office, restaurant and residential space.

The investments follow some tough years for the area with Gateway Arch grounds construction and a down economy.

"We're done licking our wounds," said Laclede's Landing Community Improvement District President John Clark. "It was a dusty mess and there was some tragedy along the way. We lost a few businesses."

A report being considered by the St. Louis parking commission suggests increasing parking rates in the city. That would help fund upgraded meters, like this one that takes credit cards.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

More money will come from St. Louis’ parking division to help shore up the city’s reserve fund.

In a compromise forged this week, St. Louis Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, D-22nd Ward, and Treasurer Tishaura Jones agreed that $10 million will be taken from parking revenues and put into the city’s reserve fund.

“This $10 million will get us back to a 2008 level,” Boyd said. “It will put the citizens of the city of St. Louis in a better position if we ever need those particular funds.”

Missouri Bontanical Garden

Bayer’s $60 billion-plus acquisition of Monsanto has many non-profit organizations in St. Louis wondering what the future holds in terms of funding from one of the city’s oldest and most generous benefactors.

Monsanto has donated nearly $10 million each year since 2000 to a wide variety of organizations in the region. The company estimates it has invested at least half a billion dollars in the St. Louis community since it was founded in 1901.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto, a company based in St. Louis for more than 100 years, is now part of Bayer.

The roughly $63-billion acquisition closed Thursday, nearly two years after the companies first announced the deal. Regulators in Canada and Mexico were among the last international watchdogs to approve the combination.

The U.S. Department of Justice signed off on it late last month after Bayer committed to shedding about $9 billion in several areas to chemical giant BASF.

That includes Bayer's Liberty-brand herbicides, which compete with Monsanto's Roundup.

Business owners in Jeffrey Plaza on Olive Boulevard say they have not been receiving updates about a proposed development that would displace them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents and business owners in University City are split over whether the city should spend taxpayer money on a plan that would bring a big-box retailer and other amenities to Olive Boulevard.

The divide was apparent at a Wednesday meeting, where city leaders tried to make a case for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to revitalize the area known as Olive Link.

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story from 06/04/18; updated with audio from St. Louis on the Air segment on 06/06/18.

Monsanto will be under new ownership by the end of the week and have a new name likely by the end of the summer. Bayer plans to finalize its roughly $63-billion acquisition of the St. Louis agricultural seeds and chemical company on Thursday. 

St. Louis Better Business Bureau President and CEO Michelle Corey announces publication of report on the latest scam data on June 6, 2018
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

The Better Business Bureau says scams involving fake sweepstakes and lotteries are on the rise in St. Louis and around the country. In a report released Tuesday, “Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study of How ‘Winners’ Lose Millions through an Evolving Fraud,” BBB highlighted the latest methods used by scammers to defraud unsuspecting victims.

According to the report, there is a large and sophisticated scam industry based in Jamaica, with a network of associates based in the U.S. and Canada. The networks use Facebook, text messages and other social media to target their victims.

Gabrielle Cole is a co-director for the Fit and Food Connection. They will move the food pantry to Believers Temple in the Castle Point area.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

The Fit and Food Connection now has a permanent location in north St. Louis County to offer food and exercise options for low-income individuals and families.

The non-profit organization is partnering with Believers Temple, a church in the Castle Point area. The partnership will use the building’s fitness center and kitchen to teach members healthy eating habits and preparation, workout routines and to offer healthy food options.

LimeBike
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Low-income St. Louisans now have a cheaper way to rent a ride from LimeBike.

At the beginning of April, LimeBike and another bikeshare company, Ofo, introduced their colorful bicycles to St. Louis. Normally, it costs $1 for 30 minutes to ride a LimeBike or $1 an hour to ride an Ofo bike.

Both companies have said they value social equality. To make their bikes more accessible for low-income riders, LimeBike and Ofo offer options — like text-to-unlock services — that don’t require smartphones or credit cards.

Enterprise is putting its name on an arena that is the site of approximately 100 events a year. The Blues also say the center attracts more than 1 million guests to downtown St. Louis annually.
Provided by St. Louis Blues

Enterprise Holdings is strengthening already deep ties to the National Hockey League, the St. Louis Blues and the region. The Clayton-based firm Monday announced a deal to change the name of the Blues' home arena to Enterprise Center. The agreement is for 15 years, with an option for another five.

Wow Air's inaugural St. Louis flight left to Reykjavik, Iceland, on May 17. Founder Skúli Mogensen stands in front of a Wow plane.
Wow Air

Carlye Lehnen has wanted to travel to Iceland since 2008, when the country underwent a banking crisis that made traveling there cheap. But when she looked for flights, they were too infrequent and expensive.

So when the 45-year-old heard that Icelandic airline Wow Air would start offering flights out of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, she leapt at the chance to fulfill a 10-year travel dream.

“As soon as it was announced, I had already booked my flight,” said Lehnen. She snagged the airline’s vaunted $99 fare.

St. Louis Public Radio's newsroom drone.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio data and visual journalist Brent Jones joined host Don Marsh to talk about how the station is using a drone to enhance news coverage.

“For journalists, we like to think of [drones] as tools because we can use them to help tell the story in the best way that we know to tell it,” Jones said.

Scientist and inventor Temple Grandin is the author of "Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like an Inventor." She joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Temple Grandin is an accomplished scientist, inventor and author. She is also an expert in autism research and is one of the most well-known adults with autism.

“I want to get kids interested in making things,” Grandin told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday.

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