Economy & Innovation

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

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

Illinois home foreclosure activity rose 4 percent in June compared to the previous month, but was down 25 percent from one year earlier.

A report released Thursday by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac shows Illinois with 6,541 homes receiving initial foreclosure filings last month.

Another 1,944 properties were scheduled for auction sale and 2,529 properties were repossessed by banks.

Looking at the first six months of the year, Illinois foreclosure activity fell 29 percent compared to the same period last year.

s_falkow | Flickr

A St. Louis County plumbing contractor has filed a lawsuit against the utility company Ameren. The suit alleges the plumbing company lost its contract because it repeatedly informed Ameren of environmental, health, and safety violations.

According to the lawsuit, those violations ranged from failing to fix broken plumbing systems to illegally discharging oil to soils and sewers.

(via Flickr/Seabamirum)

A survey of nine Midwestern and Plains suggests that higher energy prices and supply problems are slowing economic growth.

A report released Friday says the Business Conditions Index for the Mid-America region dropped in June, to 54.9 from 60.2 in May.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says higher energy prices and supply problems stemming from the Japanese tsunami and Midwest and Plains flooding have slowed economic growth.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

State officials say unemployment in all 12 Illinois metro areas dropped in May, and all but three of those regions added jobs or were unchanged.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security put out its monthly metro and county-level unemployment stats Thursday. The department says the biggest decreases last month were in Peoria, Rockford, Danville and the Kankakee-Bradley area.

Rockford remains the area with the highest unemployment rate at 10.7 percent. But that's down from 14.2 percent a year earlier.

A processing floor at Express Scripts in north St. Louis County.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

The nation's largest drugstore chain is locked in a contract fight with one of the St. Louis area's  largest employers.

Walgreen Co. revealed during an earnings call today that it's planning to end its $5.3-billion-per-year relationship with Express Scripts Inc. on Jan. 1, saying it cannot reach a deal on the fees the pharmacy benefits manager pays to fill the prescriptions of Walgreen's customers.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the state's unemployment rate increased to 8.9 percent in May. That's up from 8.7 percent just a month earlier and the first monthly increase since January 2010.

The department said Thursday in its monthly release on the statewide unemployment picture that:

US Fidelis founders face multiple felony indictments

Jun 15, 2011
St. Charles County Department of Corrections.

The millionaire brothers who ran US Fidelis, the country’s largest auto-warranty service provider have been indicted on multiple felony charges.

Darain and Cory Atkinson founded US Fidelis in 2003 selling the kind of extended auto warranties often advertised in junk mail or TV.

Over a three-year period the Better Business Bureau received over a thousand complaints and 33,000 inquiries.

(via Arch Coal)

Arch Coal says it's completed a $14.60 per share tender offer for stock in rival International Coal Group.

The offer closed Tuesday and Arch says it expects to complete the acquisition of Scott Depot-based ICG Wednesday. Arch offered to buy ICG for $3.4 billion in May.

Arch says ICG shareholders tendered nearly 188 million shares in the offer. It intends to purchase additional shares from ICG to push its ownership stake above 90 percent, enabling the deal to close.

courtesy AEG

A sports and entertainment company seeking to build an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles has spoken to the St. Louis Rams.

AEG President Tim Leiweke told the Orange County Register that he is reaching out to the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Rams future in St. Louis may hinge on the status of their downtown stadium, The Edward Jones Dome.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

The City of St. Louis has received $600,000 to provide homeless veterans with services.

The money will be split between the St. Patrick Center, which offers housing services, and Employment Connection which provides job training skills.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says that as approximately 12 percent of the city’s homeless are veterans.

Rising water levels on the Missouri River are expected to swamp hundreds of thousands of acres of crops and halt barge traffic. 

The threat of decreased crop acreage in the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri is driving prices for corn and soybeans on Wednesday.

Ron Plain is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri.  He says flooding along the Missouri River could be devastating for bottomland farmers. 

NFL players, owners appeal labor dispute in St. Louis

Jun 3, 2011
Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

Adversaries in the contentious pro football labor battle convened in a Federal Appeals Court in St. Louis on Friday.

The National Football League is appealing an April injunction from a Minnesota Judge that temporarily lifted the lockout.

The NFL Players Association is in the process of suing the league, claiming that the lockout in violation of federal anti-trust laws.

Paul Clement is an attorney for the NFL team owners; he told a three-judge panel that the issue before them is one for labor laws to decide.

(Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio)

Hearings will begin in about a week on a $276 million rate increase request for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District. MSD says the rate hike is needed to comply with stricter regulatory requirements and to reduce wastewater overflows into area creeks and streams.

Arch Coal has cleared a key regulatory hurdle facing its proposed $3.4 billion takeover of rival International Coal Group.

Scott Depot-based ICG and St. Louis-based Arch announced Wednesday that the the antitrust waiting period under U.S. law has expired. That satisfies one condition for the deal to close.

Arch agreed to buy ICG on May 2 and has since started a $14.60-a-share tender offer. The offer expires June 14.

Missouri exports up in Q1

May 19, 2011
(via Flickr/[sic])

Missouri exports are up 18 percent in the first quarter of 2011. That’s according to data released Thursday by the World Trade Center Saint Louis.

The total dollar value of Missouri exports in Q1 was $3.4 billion, compared to $2.9 billion in 2010.

Tim Nowak is the Director of the World Trade Center.  He says Asian markets continue to show the biggest growth potential for Missouri.

“Some of the highest growth that we’re seeing, double-digit growth is in Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, China,” says Nowak.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Illinois' unemployment rate fell to 8.7 percent in April, improving for the 15th consecutive month.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security released the new figures on Thursday.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

A new report says Missouri's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest point in about two years.

The state Department of Economic Development says April's jobless rate was 8.9 percent, down two-tenths of a point from March. That's the state's lowest unemployment rate since March 2009.

Monday's monthly report also shows a net gain of 2,500 nonfarm jobs in Missouri last month. The agency says the biggest growth came in construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

(via Flickr)

Arch Coal Inc. says it's started $14.60 a share tender offer for rival International Coal Group.

Arch says the offer that started Monday expires June 14.

The St. Louis-based coal industry giant agreed to buy ICG for $3.4 billion May 2.

The deal is designed to exploit growing demand for high-priced coal used to manufacture steel. Arch says the combined companies would be the nation's second largest supplier of metallurgical coal.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Two St. Louis-based companies are reporting lower earnings for the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.

(via Flickr/seannaber)

Philip Morris USA and other major tobacco companies won a favorable verdict Friday in a lawsuit filed by 37 Missouri hospitals seeking more than $455 million for treating sick smokers.

Philip Morris USA was one of six tobacco companies involved in the lawsuit.

The hospitals had claimed cigarette companies delivered an "unreasonably dangerous" product and were seeking reimbursement back to 1993 for treating patients who had no insurance and did not pay their bills.

Boeing FA-18 Super Hornet
Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen G. Hale II | U.S. Navy

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi says that two American makers of fighter jets are out of the running for a multibillion dollar contract for the Indian air force.

The defense arm of one of the two American companies, Boeing Co., is based in St. Louis.

Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin were both bidding for a slice of the $11 billion Indian deal for 126 fighter jets.

A statement from U.S. Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer says that the news from India's Defense Ministry was "deeply disappointing."

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

Officials at Ameren took questions from shareholders about the utility company's procedures for disposing of coal ash today.

The annual shareholder's meeting was open to all Ameren investors.

Diana Oleskevich works for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.  The sisters are part of a group of five institutional investors calling on Ameren to clean up their coal ash disposal procedures.

Oleskevich says Ameren's claim that its 35 coal ash storage ponds comply with current regulations does not satisfy her concerns.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

State officials say the March unemployment rate dropped in every Illinois metropolitan area for a record seventh consecutive month.

A report released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security shows that the Rockford metropolitan area with the state's highest unemployment rate, at 13.3 percent. That's almost 4 percentage points lower than the same time last year.

The Kankakee-Bradley metropolitan area March rate was second-highest, at 12.7 percent.

Other metro areas with jobless rates over 10 percent were:

A view of the outside of the Peabody Energy building in St. Louis.
St. Louis Public Radio

Peabody Energy Corp. says its profit rose in the first quarter due to higher prices for Australian coal used in steelmaking and increased demand in the U.S.

The world's biggest private-sector coal company says its net income attributable to common shareholders was $176.5 million, or 65 cents per share, in the January-March period. That's up from $133.7 million, or 50 cents, a year earlier.

St. Louis-based Peabody says first-quarter revenue rose 15 percent to $1.74 billion from $1.51 billion the previous year.

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:05 p.m. April 12, 2011:

Reuters has now updated its story to indicate that a buyout is not in the plans:

Germany's BASF SE (BASFn.DE) has no plans to buy global biotech seed company Monsanto Co (MON.N), sources with knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday.

Rumors that a buyout was imminent sent shares of Monsanto Co (MON.N) up as much as 4 percent while shares of BASF, the world's largest chemical maker, fell 2.8 percent to 62.59 euros.

via Flickr/KellyB.

A new report says Missouri's March unemployment rate fell by three-tenths of a point to 9.1 percent.

Monday's report from the state Department of Economics also says Missouri employers added a net of more than 24,000 jobs last month.

The hospitality and leisure sector had the biggest gain, adding about 6,300 jobs, while retailers added 5,800 jobs. Other notable increases were construction, with 4,200 jobs added, and business and professional services, up by 2,700 jobs.

(via Flickr/Seabamirum)

The "Mancession" of 2009 is finally giving way to a "Mancovery." But the jobs picture for women is going in the opposite direction.

Check out this feature about gender asymmetry in the jobs "recovery" from our own Adam Allington. It aired on Marketplace Morning Report today.

(Chiodini Associates, architects, and AxiOme, design consultant)

Want to see more images of the new building's design? Check out a full gallery on Posterous.

Groundbreaking has been set for St. Louis Public Radio and the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ new home in Grand Center.

The public radio station’s general manager, Tim Eby, confirms that work will begin on the site just east of KETC public television on Friday, April 15. The three-story, 27,000-square-foot building is expected to take one year to complete.

(via Flickr/_J_D_R)

Next Tuesday, St. Louis City voters will vote on Proposition E.  If the proposition passes, the city will retain its 1 percent earnings tax.  If the proposition fails, the tax will be phased out over the next ten years.  Supporters and critics of the earnings tax disagree on many things, including how the tax affects the economic vitality of the city and how prominently the tax figures into people’s decisions to live or work in St. Louis.  But many agree on this: no replacement for the earnings tax is in place and a transition to any combination of alternatives could prove painful.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 5:09 p.m. March 28, 2011 with additional reasons for leaving the board:

The St. Louis Business Journal reports other reasons for Busch's departure:

"For personal and health reasons August Busch IV has decided not to seek re-election at the annual shareholders meeting," A-B spokeswoman Marianne Amssoms said.

As updated 3:30 p.m. March 28, 2011:

The former CEO of Anheuser-Busch Cos., August A. Busch IV, will be leaving the board of Anheuser-Busch InBev following the annual shareholders' meeting, Bloomberg News reports:

The world’s largest brewer will ask investors on April 26 in Brussels to approve Olivier Goudet, chief financial officer of Mars Inc., and Paul Cornet de Ways Ruart as directors for a four-year term, according to the convening notice published on the company’s website. Goudet and Cornet will replace Jean-Luc Dehaene and Arnoud de Pret on AB InBev’s board, which will have 12 members following the departure of Busch.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via the Associated Press, reports that the move is unrelated to the negative publicity surrounding Busch since the death of his girlfriend from a drug overdose late last year.

Busch's board seat was always considered a courtesy after Anheuser-Busch was sold to InBev in 2008, as InBev's board went to 13 seats from 12 previously. It will now revert to 12. Busch's term had always been scheduled to end next month, the newspaper said.

 

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