Economy & Innovation

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

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed a law last year making it easier to register a home-based business.

It also lowered the business renewal license fee, due each year on June 1, to just $25 for those home-based businesses with annual revenue under $100,000.

It had been $200.

Many business owners have no idea the fee has dropped. 

Monsanto says it will not comment further on Bayer's bid, which is being reviewed by the board of directors.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Tuesday, May 24, 3 p.m., to include Monsanto's rejection of Bayer offer - St. Louis-based crops and seeds specialist Monsanto has rejected a $62 billion offer from German drugs and chemicals company Bayer AG.

In a statement Tuesday, Monsanto called the takeover bid "incomplete and financially inadequate." However, the seed company is suggesting that a higher bid might be accepted, saying that it remains open to talks.

Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant also said that the initial offer failed to address potential financing and regulatory risks. Bayer made an all-cash bid that valued Monsanto's stock at $122 each.

Our original story:

Bayer is making its case for buying St. Louis-based Monsanto. The German company is offering to acquire the seeds and agricultural chemical business for $62 billion. The deal could create the world’s leading company for crop protection and seeds and traits.

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has launched a $62 billion bid for seed seller Monsanto in what some news reports say would be the largest-ever German takeover of a foreign company.

Bayer's all-cash offer is 37 percent higher than Monsanto's stock price before news broke about the possible deal.

"This transaction represents a compelling opportunity for Monsanto's shareholders," Bayer CEO Werner Baumann told reporters on a conference call Monday.

Outside the old Buster Brown factory, party attendees hold up signs and pose for photos as part of the "This Place Matters" campaign, a social media project started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Passers-by wondered what was going on.

There were food trucks, balloons, and music at the corner of Cass and Jefferson Avenues on Thursday afternoon.

It’s all part of Jim Osher’s effort to save the Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory. (You can read St. Louis Public Radio's previous story here.)

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, are entering a time in their lives when they may want to consider end-of-life planning decisions. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed estates, trusts, guardianship and other issues with Tina Babel, a principal with Carmody MacDonald who practices in the area of estates and trusts.

A German company is making a play for St. Louis-based Monsanto. Bayer has made an unsolicited, non-binding offer for the global agricultural company.

BYU-Hawaii Enactus students hold their 2015 championship trophy.
Enactus | provided

Updated May 19 with winning team — The La Sierra University Enactus team was chosen as the 2016 National Champion.

Two thousand college students from all across the country are in St. Louis through Tuesday for a socially-minded business competition called the Enactus National Expo.

The Enactus university teams are the winners of their regional expos and are competing for the title of national champion by presenting their projects to corporate executives who evaluate the impact of their work.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro,
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Illinois Congressman Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro< is asking for an investigation into the report that laid out the pros and cons for the proposed sites for a new $1.75 billion federal facility.

That’s after he and several other member of Illinois’ congressional delegation met with National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director Robert Cardillo on Thursday.

Jerry Steiner, CEO of Arvegenix, and Toni Kutchan, Vice President for Research at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center discussed new research in the field of bioenergy on St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

While the typical American may be considering how to use alternative fuel in the form of an electric car or investing in a “smart home” system, big industry is also looking for ways to reduce CO2 emissions through the use of alternative biofuels.

(Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory in north St. Louis is worth about $810,000.

That’s the figure that a three-member court-appointed commission determined in a filing on Wednesday. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is within the proposed footprint of a new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency building and among the properties facing eminent domain proceedings by the city.

Ameren worker installs LED streetlight
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

The cost of electricity in the St. Louis area could be going up. Ameren Missouri is planning to ask state regulators this summer for a rate increase.

The utility cites a lack of regulatory reform, the shutdown of the utility’s largest customer along with increased investments and operating costs.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

When it comes to marketing downtown St. Louis to visiting conventions, the area has a steep hill to climb. An aging/outdated convention center, losing an NFL team, scarce financial resources, a fear of increased taxes and a perceived safety problem are all roadblocks to bringing visitors into St. Louis for conventions.

Kitty Ratcliffe, the president of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, says that the investment in monetary resources and time it takes to overcome the roadblocks are worth it.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

More than 100 people chant the tongue twister “Betty Botter bought some butter.”

Then they move on to dollar drills.

This is the Missouri Auction School, the world’s biggest and oldest school for would-be auctioneers. It was founded in 1905.

Twice a year students convene at a Route 66-themed Holiday Inn in Sunset Hills for the week-long class, where they start the day with the 30-minute warm-up. President Paul Dewees says students come from all over the U.S. and even travel from other countries to learn how to become auctioneers.

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge
Provided by Lambert International Airport

Lambert Airport could end up with a plan to bring in more money and another to fund capital improvements by the end of the week. Officials are waiting for final approval from the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on an agreement with the airlines that use the airport. The airlines have already approved a five-year, capital improvement plan.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The city of St. Louis will likely pay more than $1.6 million to compensate property owners who faced eminent domain to make way for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new facility.

Reagan Mattison, Christina Yepez, Julianna Jones, Sindhu Bala and Sydney Gralike, stand with their project at the White House Science Fair.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri

Prickly-tongue. Sweaty palms. Stomach butterflies. Shaking. Anxiety. Relief.  These are some of the feelings and symptoms that Sindhu Bala and Christina Yepez, two members of local Girl Scout Troop 1484, remember about their meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in April. They were presenting their own groundbreaking research and sustainability/robotics project, which turns Styrofoam into a recyclable glue.

Mow to Own
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio)

The parcel next to Eltorean Hawkins’ home looks like his side yard.

He’s been mowing the grass and cutting the weeds since he bought his house two years ago, even though the land belongs to the city's Land Reutilization Authority.

Now all Hawkins has to do is pay $125 and keep mowing for another two years, and the deed goes to him.

It’s called Mow to Own.


Money problems are forcing a St. Louis-area jazz radio station to expand its format.

“We've not been able to monetize the jazz format so we've chosen to expand that a little bit by adding blues,” says Doug McIlhagga, the executive director of marketing and communications for Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville. The university runs WSIE, which started broadcasting in 1970.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

There’s no place like home, and for Sheila Rendon that’s especially true.

The two-story brick home on Mullanphy Street has been in her home since she was born. Her parents and grandparents bought the house back in 1963, when home ownership was just a dream for many African Americans.

Fergus Randall | Flickr

The St. Louis-based utility got its start in 1857 as the Laclede Gas Light Company.

Now it will be known as Spire.

Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis all but declared victory after the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s director gave the city the nod earlier this month for a new $1.75 billion facility.

Yet officials across the river aren’t giving up on a 182-acre site in St. Clair County.

A view of the outside of the United Steelworkers office in Granite City, Ill.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:30 p.m., April 27,  with CEO comments — There is still no firm timeline for production to resume at the U.S. Steel plant in Granite City.  The company continues to describe the shutdown as temporary and operations will not start again until demand picks up. 

When it comes to metros that Kansas City considers its competition for business, population growth, conventions and prestige: Forget about St. Louis. We left that rivalry behind in the last century.

People whose job it is to keep KC competitive point to Nashville, Denver, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Louisville as among our chief 21st century opponents.

Loop Trolley construction in Feb. 2016

Another busy intersection in the Delmar Loop will be shut down starting Monday for Loop Trolley construction. More than 85 percent of the track for the project has been installed, but traffic won’t be allowed at Skinker and Delmar boulevards for at least the next 12 days.

Sandor Weisz | Flickr |

  By the end of this year, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 49,000 people in the United States will die from colorectal cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

In 2015, Erica Barnell, the CEO of Geneoscopy, helped start a company that seeks to reduce the number of colorectal cancer deaths by expanding preventive screening through noninvasive methods.

The Sugar Camp Energy complex in southern Illinois
Foresight Energy

A St. Louis-based coal company has struck a deal with bondholders of most of its $600-million debt. Foresight Energy's agreement follows months of negotiations after it was partially acquired last year by Ohio-based Murray Energy Corporation. Here's what you should know about Foresight Energy as it strives to avoid following  St. Louis-based Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, which have filed for bankruptcy protection.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s not clear whether the Peabody Opera House will keep its name.

That’s after Peabody Energy filed for bankruptcy last Wednesday. The St. Louis-based coal giant aims to restructure in the midst of a major downturn for the industry. In its bankruptcy filing, it listed $11 billion in assets and $10 billion in liabilities.

Designed by Arcturis Inc., the expanded Civic Center Transit Center in downtown St. Louis will include bigger bus bays, a new building, bathrooms, digital arrival time boards, and concessions.
Metro Transit

Passengers who use the busy Civic Center Transit Center in downtown St. Louis will have to pick up their MetroBuses at a different site starting Monday, as work on an expansion project begins.

Centene announced plans for this new claims center shortly after the death of Michael Brown
Centene Corporation

Updated Friday, April 15, 3 p.m. to included comments from grand opening: The opening of Centene's $25 million center in Ferguson Friday is the completion of a goal set by the company's chief executive officer shortly after violence broke out in the city in 2014.

Michael Neidorff said the investment by the Clayton-based managed care company should send a message to some employers who left Ferguson in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will dedicate a new wing of the facility on Friday. The expansion is called the William H. Danforth Wing, in honor of the founding chairman who helped create the plant science center in 1998.

"Everyone thinks I had a big plan when we started. You know you have to feel your way. That’s what you do in life,” Dr. William Danforth told St. Louis Public Radio. “We’re now far ahead of where I thought we would be when we started.”