Economy & Innovation

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

via Flickr/KellyB.

St. Louis needs more immigrants. That’s the gist of a new report from St. Louis University.

Professor Jack Strauss presented the findings of his study Tuesday to city and county leaders, including St. Louis mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, at a regional economic development conference.

At about 4.5 percent, Strauss says St. Louis has the lowest rate of immigration among the nation’s largest 20 cities.

(via Flickr/[F]oxymoron)

A coal-fired power plant in southern Illinois will shed nearly four dozen jobs in the next two months.

Energy Electric Inc. President Bill Sheppard says 19 of the 44 job cuts will be management personnel with the Joppa-based company. Twenty-five union workers in the company with about 233 employees will be laid off Aug. 11.

Sheppard says the reductions are fallout from the struggling economy and wholesale supplier prices that had fallen by 60 percent in 2008 and an additional 15 percent last year. He says drop-offs in the price of natural gas also are a factor.

via Flickr/KellyB.

Unemployment continued to drop slowly across Illinois in May, partly due to job growth in manufacturing.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported Thursday that unemployment fell to 8.6 percent in May. It was the ninth straight monthly decrease and was down from 8.7 percent in April.

The federal government reported earlier this month that the May national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. That was up slightly from April's 8.1 percent.

(via Flickr/lsgcp)

Updated 5:04 p.m. with more details.

The tiny riverfront community of Grafton, Ill. has announced plans to build a plant to process Asian carp culled from the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

The plant represents a $5.4 million joint venture between American Heartland Fish in Grafton, Falcon Protein, based in Alabama, and Wuhan Hui Chang Real Estate, a Chinese investment group.

Grafton Mayor Tom Thompson says the new plant will provide a welcome influx of good paying jobs.

(via Ameren Illinois)

Ameren Illinois has a new Chairman, President and CEO. Effective immediately, Richard Mark, 57, replaces Scott Cisel, who has "left the company to pursue other interests."

The move is an internal one for Ameren, as Mark jumps over the Mississippi from his former post as senior vice president of customer operations for Ameren Missouri. He's been with the company since 2002.

Shifting into Mark's old spot is Michael Moehn, who will leave a similar post at Ameren Illinois.

 

 

O'Fallon to get new corporate headquarters

Jun 13, 2012
Air Evac Lifteam

Air Evac Lifeteam, a provider of air medical transportation to rural communities, has announced its plans to open a new corporate headquarters in O’Fallon,  in St. Charles County.

The move from West Plains, Mo. is part of major expansion for the company and is expected to create as many as 190 jobs.   

The City of O’Fallon was chosen from a list of 20 other locations throughout Missouri and other states.

via Flickr/KellyB.

Missouri officials say the state lost about 7,300 non-farm payroll jobs in May, even as the state's unemployment rate was unchanged from April at 7.3 percent.

The Department of Economic Development reported the figures Tuesday.

The decline in non-farm payroll jobs followed several months of increases. The 7.3 percent jobless rate is the lowest for Missouri since December 2008, and compares with the national figure of 8.2 percent in May.

McCormack Baron Salazar

Over the past four decades Richard Baron has made a name for himself as a pioneering developer of blighted urban neighborhoods.  Baron’s firm, McCormack Baron Salazar has completed scores of projects in St. Louis and across the Midwest.  As a native of Detroit, Mich., Baron came to Missouri in the late 1960s. 

St. Louis Public Radio’s Adam Allington sat down with Baron at a housing conference of the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he asked him to elaborate on some of the development challenges—and similarities—between Detroit and St. Louis.

(via Flickr/A Comment)

Missouri's economy grew at a slower pace than nation's this past year.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that:

Billionaire Warren Buffett's company now owns about 3.2 percent of Lee Enterprises' stock as Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s newspaper holdings continue to grow.

Buffett's Omaha-based company disclosed owning 1.66 million shares of Lee's stock on Tuesday after the Securities and Exchange Commission refused to let him keep the investment confidential.

The SEC often lets Buffett conceal investment moves while he's making them because so many investors try to copy him.

(via Flickr/KellyB)

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says unemployment dropped during April in 11 of the state's 12 metro areas.

The department said Thursday the biggest decrease was in the Rockford area where unemployment decreased from 12.1 percent in April 2011 to 10.7 percent. The Kankakee-Bradley area wasn't far behind. The jobless rate there fell from 11.8 percent to 10.5 percent. Only the Metro East had an increase - a small jump from 8.3 to 8.4 percent.

Unemployment in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metro area decreased from 9.5 percent to 9 percent.

General Motors expanding production at Wentzville plant

May 21, 2012

General Motors broke ground on Monday for a new $380 million expansion to its Wentzville Assembly Plant.

When GM declared Chapter 11 in 2009 the Wentzville plant was subject to talks of being shut down. Few people envisioned a day like today when the company would be adding 500,000 square feet to Wentzville.

The company says the move will create some 1,000 new jobs, with priority given to workers from the soon-to-be closed plant in Shreveport, La.

Illinois exports rose more than 17 percent in the first quarter to their highest level in more than a decade.

The increase was driven by sales of industrial machinery, petroleum and coal products, automobiles and chemicals. The export of products to build roads and factories in China and Brazil also helped boost the numbers.

An announcement from Gov. Pat Quinn's office says exports for January through March reached $17.2 billion. That's compared with $14.7 billion from the same period last year.

The governor has set a goal of doubling the state's exports by 2014.

(via Flickr/KellyB)

Updated at 3:23 p.m. with Associated Press correction. Government hiring was not down in April.

Unemployment across Illinois dropped in April for an eighth straight month, but job growth all but stalled.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that statewide unemployment fell to 8.7 percent. That's down a tenth of a percentage point from 8.8 in March. The national jobless rate was 8.1 percent.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

A civil lawsuit filed by the Justice Department in St. Louis accuses the therapy provider RehabCare Group Inc. of paying more than $10 million in kickbacks to gain access to nursing home Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that suburban St. Louis-based RehabCare is accused of a revenue-sharing agreement with nursing home chain owner Health Systems Inc. that defrauded Medicare and Medicaid programs.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is asking the city’s Convention and Visitors Commission to reject the Rams’ request for $700 million in upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the team is on its way out of town.

Speaking on St. Louis on the Air, Slay said the Ram’s requests was a “best-case scenario” for the team, and did not reflect a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

The city’s plan calls for upgrades totaling $124 million—a figure which Slays says is a starting point for further negotiations.

State transport panel hears from St. Louis metro region

May 14, 2012
Missouri Department of Transportation | Flickr

Missouri state and local officials are looking for ways to maintain the state’s transportation infrastructure during a climate of limited funds.

The so-called "Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri Transportation Needs" met in Chesterfield and will hold similar meetings around the state this spring and summer. 

MoDOT District Engineer Ed Hassinger says the agency has roughly half the money to spend that it did just several years ago.

(Released by Mo. Atty. Gen. Chris Koster)

The details of proposals to improve or change the Edward Jones Dome have been kept secret - until today.

Last week, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said he would release the details of the proposals, in response to an open records request, and he's done so.

Carnahan says changes coming for Postal Service

May 11, 2012
(Official Photo)

The U.S. Postal Service is on track to run out of cash as early as October.

The agency has temporarily shelved plans to close some 3,700 underperforming post offices. 

The Postal Service has been hurt by the drop in first-class mail as more people switch to the Internet to communicate and pay bills.

But St. Louis Congressman Russ Carnahan says the agencies’ biggest problem stems from a requirement to prepay health benefits for future retirees.

(Véronique LaCapra)

The minority business advocacy group MOKAN says the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is not doing enough to include local minority and female workers in its sewer upgrade projects.

MOKAN executive director Yaphett El-Amin says her group wants MSD to increase the transparency of its hiring practices and invest at least $23.5 million in worker training programs.

(via Flickr/Hakan Dahlstrom)

Caesars Entertainment Corp. says it will sell its Harrah's hotel-casino outside St. Louis to rival Penn National Gaming for $610 million.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Caesars and Penn National gave different reasons for the all-cash transaction that could close later this year.

Caesars Entertainment Chairman Gary Loveman says the company is looking at other growth markets. Caesars is opening the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland next week and Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati next year.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The new Fortune 500 list has been released. Fortune Magazine has released its annual ranking of the top U.S. companies by revenue Monday.

Last year, St. Louis had ten companies on the list. It’s down to nine this year, as Smurfit Stone Container dropped off because it was purchased by Rock-Tenn in 2011. The companies are:

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Fifteen start-up companies are getting a boost from St. Louis business accelerator Arch Grants. The winners of Arch Grant’s global business plan competition will each receive $50,000 to help them get started in the city.

Arch Grants co-founder and president Jerry Schlichter says the recipients were selected from more than 400 applicants.

“Arch Grants will be working hard to make these entrepreneurs a success," he said.  "And, we’re going to be working equally hard to try to continue to build Arch Grants to make it a true game-changing program for St. Louis."

(via Flickr/KellyB)

Illinois' unemployment rate fell below 9 percent in March in what continues to be a slow, sometimes unsteady recovery from recession.

The state Department of Employment Security said Thursday that unemployment fell to 8.8 percent in March. It was the first time the jobless rate was below 9 percent since February 2009 and the seventh straight decrease. February unemployment in Illinois was 9.1 percent.

Illinois unemployment still remains higher that the nation as a whole. The U.S. rate in March was 8.2 percent.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Missouri added about 4,800 jobs in March as its unemployment rate remained steady.

Figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Economic Development show that Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in March - the same level as in February. That remained below the national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent in March.

(St. Louis Public Radio photo)

Residents can weigh in starting today on proposed fare increases for mass transit in St. Louis. The Metro transit agency is considering three options for raising fares this year – one would increase only the costs of weekly, monthly and university semester passes; the second would raise the cost of all passes except day passes; and the third would spread the increase to all fares, including buses and Metrolink. 

(via Flickr/KellyB)

Missouri's 7.4 percent jobless rate is the lowest it's been in more than three years - but that's bad news for about 9,000 of the state's 112,000 people receiving unemployment benefits.

State lawmakers last year outlasted a determined filibuster by Republican Senator Jim Lembke to approve an additional 20 weeks in benefits - funded entirely by the federal government - for Missouri residents who had been out of work for 79 weeks, or more than a year and a half.

(St. Charles County Dept. of Corrections)

One of two brothers who owned the auto services contract giant US Fidelis has pleaded guilty to federal charges - just four days after admitting to a series of state charges.

Darain Atkinson, 47, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one felony count of filing false tax returns. 

(St. Charles County Department of Corrections)

Updated at 4:08 with comments from Attorney General Koster and Darain Atkinson's attorney.

Updated 3:58 with statement from the Better Business Bureau:

“US Fidelis left a trail of dissatisfied consumers from across the United States.  Today’s guilty plea by Darain Atkinson in St. Charles County illustrates the risks of unethical business behavior and the importance of the work of groups like the Better Business Bureau in exposing the underhanded practices in our marketplace,” Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO said.

(CIA World Factbook)

Reporting from KSMU's Jennifer Moore used in this report.

As we mentioned this morning, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will travel to Brazil this month on a trade mission. The trip comes on the heels of the news that Missouri saw its strongest year ever for exports in 2011.

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