Economy & Innovation

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

The middle class. An enigma of socioeconomic standing often used as a barometer of the United States as a whole. Perhaps you identify with the term 'middle class,' or perhaps you don't, but the newest data from Pew Social & Demographic Trends is something to see. Check it out, with reporting from NPR's The Two-Way, via the link.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Former Republican Missouri Senator Kit Bond will lead a delegation of St. Louis-area business leaders to China later this year.

Bond's consulting firm that works on international trade will accompany regional and statewide businesses and academic institutions to China in December.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Supporters of the long-delayed Ballpark Village project in downtown St. Louis made a renewed pitch today for state backing to the Missouri Development Finance Board.

The $100 million project would be built on the north side of Busch Stadium and would contain space for retail stores, restaurants, an open-air event space with a retractable roof, and a St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum.  Team President Bill DeWitt III says the project got sidetracked by the economic crisis that hit the country four years ago.

(via St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission)

Updated at 2:40 p.m. with more details of the plan, expanded comments from CVC president Kitty Ratcliffe.

Will be updated.

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission says it sent a new version of a plan to revamp the Edward Jones Dome to the St. Louis Rams.

The plan, which the CVC sent to the Rams on Friday,  is the latest salvo in the efforts by the CVC and the Rams to made the Edward Jones Dome a "top-tier" facility - generally thought to mean among the eight best stadiums in the National Football League. Without those upgrades, the Rams can break their lease on the Dome after 2015.

You can view the full proposal for yourself here:

Another fascinating graphic and exploration from the Planet Money team. Check it out via the link.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Illinois' unemployment rate increased again in July with the loss of thousands of government and hospitality jobs.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that the July unemployment rate hit 8.9 percent. That's up from 8.7 percent in June and was the second straight increase after nine months of steady decreases.

Department Director Jay Rowell says the increase was expected since national unemployment continues to rise. Rowell adds that declines in government employment are likely to continue.

Saying it wants "to protect homeowners from surprises and costly mistakes by their mortgage servicers," the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today proposed new rules it believes would make the home loan process simpler and give struggling homeowners more of a chance to avoid foreclosures.

(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that extends the life span of a popular economic development tool in the state.

(via Flickr/spacepleb)

Missouri utility regulators have given approval for what Ameren Missouri calls the most aggressive energy efficiency plan ever in the state.

Under the plan approved Wednesday by the Missouri Public Service Commission, Ameren will invest $147 million over three years in several programs that seek to reduce electricity use by 800 million megawatt-hours.

The plan was part of a negotiated settlement among Ameren, PSC staff, consumer advocates and environmental groups.

Take a look at this report from NPR's Planet Money team. How does it compare with your life? Do you spend more on education or health care? What about entertainment? Explore their visual take on the statistics via the link.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

UMB Bank says assets from a failed artificial sweetener facility in Moberly will be auctioned this fall.

The bank is the bondholder trustee for the central Missouri project that was to be operated by Mamtek U.S. Inc.

Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to finance construction of the plant, and the state offered about $17 million in incentives. Work stopped last fall on the partially built factory after Mamtek missed a bond payment to Moberly. No state incentives were paid.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Financial services firm Wells Fargo Advisors is investing $33 million to expand its operations in the St. Louis area. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay joined the company’s president and CEO Danny Ludeman Friday for the announcement at the company’s downtown headquarters.

Ludeman says the plan will create 400 local jobs.

(Sydney Miller/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Chesterfield Valley could see two new outlet malls by next fall. Taubman Prestige Outlets began construction today, just two weeks after St. Louis Premium Outlets broke ground on its project less than a mile away. Prestige Outlet Malls broke ground across highway 40 from the Chesterfield Commons and construction on St. Louis Premium Outlets is occurring near the Daniel Boone Bridge.

Stop by most any unirrigated farm across the lower Midwest and you'll see crops in distress. Midwestern corn and soybean farmers are taking a beating during the recent drought, but it's not likely to drive many out of business.

Most of those farmers carry terrific insurance, and the worse the drought becomes, the more individual farmers will be paid for their lost crops. The federal government picks up most of the cost of the crop insurance program, and this year that bill is going to be a whopper.

Flickr/Stephen Cummings

Pharmacy chain Walgreens says it will begin filling prescriptions from customers in the Express Scripts network starting in September under a new multiyear contract between the companies.

Walgreen had stopped filling prescriptions for Express Scripts after a contract between the companies ended last year.

Shares of Walgreen Co. jumped 14 percent in premarket trading while Express Scripts shares rose 3 percent.

Mayor Francis Slay scored a decisive victory Friday in his months-long battle to rein in firefighter pension costs. In a 17 to 10 vote, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved major reforms to the department’s retirement system, cutting benefits, raising payments, and preventing full retirement until age 55.

Slay’s office estimates the changes will save the city $8 million a year in pension costs that have more than quadrupled in the last five years.

Mayor Slay’s Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford says the reforms are necessary and protect taxpayers. 

Sydney Miller/St. Louis Public Radio

Area officials and representatives from Simon Property Group and Woodmont Outlets got their hands dirty this morning, breaking ground on the new St. Louis Premium Outlet Mall in Chesterfield Valley.

The Humane Society of the United States

The fast food chain Hardee’s says it will stop buying pork from suppliers who use gestation crates – the cramped metal cages where many industrial pork producers house pregnant sows for most of their adult lives.

The cages are not much bigger than the pigs themselves, making it difficult for the animals to move or lie down comfortably.

Take a look at these charts put together by NPR's Planet Money team. Does your experience or that of your neighbors reflect the data or trends?

(Courtesy St. Louis Cardinals)

Officials with the St. Louis Cardinals say construction should begin on the much-delayed Ballpark Village by this coming fall.

The $100 million project received support Thursday from the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Authority—known as MODESA.

MODESA’s support frees up $17 million in bonds set to expire by the end of the year—a fact which has the Cardinals, their developer Cordish Co. and the City of St. Louis moving quickly to clear these last few hurdles.

UPDATED on Friday, July 6, 2012, to add a correction from Anthem's Deborah Wiethop.

Some 588,000 Missourians will get money back from their health insurance companies this month.

The federal healthcare law requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care and quality improvement. The rest can go to administrative costs, marketing and profits.

Anheuser-Busch InBev buys Mexican brewer Modelo

Jun 29, 2012
via Wikimedia Commons

The world's largest brewer is getting even bigger. Anheuser-Busch InBev announced plans early on Friday to buy a remaining 50 percent of the Mexican brewing giant, Grupo Modelo, for $20 billion.  

The purchase will give A-B InBev complete control of the company and access to Modelo’s popular Corona, Modelo, Negra Modelo and Pacifico brands.

Speaking in a conference call Modelo CEO Carlos Fernandez says the move is necessary step to export his brands around the globe.

(via Monsanto)

Monsanto says its fiscal third-quarter net income soared 35 percent as its seeds and traits business benefited from a mild winter that drove farmers to plant crops earlier and in large numbers.

The U.S. agricultural giant also maintained its full-year earnings forecast after boosting it last month.

The St. Louis company, which produces genetically engineered seeds and the herbicide Roundup, earned $937 million, or $1.74 per share, in the quarter ended in May. That's compared with $692 million, or $1.28 per share, a year earlier.

(via Flickr/breahn)

The St. Louis County Economic Council is opening the doors to its new biotech incubator on Monday afternoon and the agency says it will serve as a launching pad for biotech businesses.

Officials say The Helix Center Biotech Incubator is a 17,000 square foot facility loaded with lab and office space with a prime location next to the Danforth Plant Center.

Entrepreneurial efforts are nothing new to the council, which runs four other incubators in the region.

Updated 4:42 p.m. with additional layoffs and information.

One of the world's largest coal producers, St. Louis-based Arch Coal, says it will lay off about 750 workers in the Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia coalfields.

It's the latest setback for an industry struggling for market share as utilities switch to cleaner and cheaper alternatives.

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.

 

 

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