Economy & Innovation

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

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated 3:47 p.m.:

A package of tax breaks for Illinois businesses made it through a legislative committee despite major concerns by lawmakers.

The House Revenue Committee approved the measure 6-0 Monday. But two important legislators said they may oppose the bill when it comes up on the House floor.

The package would cost state government about $250 million a year. That's down from $850 million in an earlier proposal.

(via St. Louis Downtown Airport Facebook page)

Officials say the completion of improvements to the main runway at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia will help the facility expand its clientele and generate new business. 

The six-month, $7.4 million project widened and lengthened the runway and improved the runway’s lighting system. Airport director Bob McDaniel says they also strengthened the runway to support larger aircraft like the Boeing 757 and Airbus 320.

(via St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County Council members gather tonight at 6:00 p.m. to discuss County Executive Charlie Dooley’s proposed budget for 2012.  Facing flat revenues and a budget shortfall, Dooley has proposed $10 million in spending cuts that would close 23 county parks and eliminate up to 133 Parks & Recreation Department employees.

The budget has been under fire from council members, citizens, and environmental groups, many of whom are calling for more equitable cuts across county departments.

Former County Park Ranger Marty Koch joined Dooley’s Senior Policy Advisor Mike Jones today on St. Louis on the Air.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Missouri's unemployment rate declined last month to its lowest point in more than 2 1/2 years.

The state Department of Economic Development said Tuesday that Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in October - down two-tenths of a percentage point from September. It was the lowest mark since an 8.4 percent rate in February 2009.

Missouri's unemployment rate also was better than the national average of 9 percent in October.

s_falkow | Flickr

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the company responsible for a failed artificial sweetener factory in Moberly.

Mamtek U.S. Inc. planned to employ several hundred people at the central Missouri plant, and Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to pay for the project.

But Mamtek missed a bond payment and the plant still is under construction. Moberly has said it does not plan to pay off remaining bonds.

(via Wikimedia commons/SSGT CHAD R. GANN, USAF)

Scott Air Force Base plans to cut more than 300 jobs as part of an Air Force restructuring plan and could get rid of more positions.

Base spokeswoman Karen Petitt said 321 jobs will be cut. Of those 122 are vacant. The base about 25 miles east of St. Louis has 5,085 civilian jobs so the cuts represent 6.3 percent of its civilian positions.

The Air Force is cutting about 9,000 jobs around the country to save money and restructure civilian operations.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 4:50  p.m. with comments from Nixon, company and union officials, and employees.

The General Motors plant in Wentzville, Mo. got some welcome news this morning.

A $380 million investment in the plant, negotiated into the latest contract between GM and the United Auto Workers, means the Chevrolet Colorado will be built at the St. Charles County plant beginning some time next year.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he has closed a deal with another Chinese province to import products from Missouri.

Nixon said Thursday the government of Zhejiang Province has agreed to import $100 million of Missouri products over the coming years. The province also agreed to help facilitate an additional $100 million of investment in Missouri businesses.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says a Chinese province has agreed to increase its imports from Missouri by $100 million over the next three years.

Nixon's announcement Wednesday about the Hebei province came as part a weeklong trade trip to China. The governor previously announced that a new agreement with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade would increase imports of Missouri goods by $1 billion over three years.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Coal-mining giant Peabody Energy Corp. says its third-quarter earnings climbed 22 percent and demand for coal is still rising for power generation in Asia and Europe.

Separately, Peabody says the steel maker ArcelorMittal has pulled out of their joint bid to buy Australia's Macarthur Coal Ltd. for about $5 billion, and will sell its interest to Peabody.

Peabody shares fell 1.7 percent to $40.25 in premarket trading.

(via Flickr/[F]oxymoron)

An announcement Friday from St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation says that the company is offering certain employees an opportunity to retire early. Ameren is an electric and natural gas utility provider for many residents of the St. Louis region.

The move comes as a cost management measure during what the company calls a "challenging economic period."

According to Ameren, here are the requirements for employees to be eligible for the offer:

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 4:19 p.m. to reflect debate about need for furloughs.

The World Series has already given St. Louis one night of memorable plays, a visit from first lady Michelle Obama and a sea of red at Busch Stadium. But, it seems, the event has catalyzed a more monetary benefit for St. Louis city workers.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Unemployment in Illinois rose in September for a fifth straight month and hit 10 percent for the first time since August 2010.

The state Department of Employment Security on Thursday blamed continued weakness in consumer confidence across the country for the increase. The federal government earlier this month said national unemployment for September was 9.1 percent. That was unchanged from August. The state rate was 9.9 percent in August.

(via Flickr/Dodo-Bird)

DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred International is suing Monsanto for allegedly violating DuPont patents related to corn seed production.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court, the Iowa-based seed company accuses Monsanto of using a patented technique developed by DuPont to enhance corn seed germination. The technique involves defoliating the corn plants with herbicides between pollination and harvest.

DuPont alleges that Monsanto has been using this defoliation technique at its research site in Constantine, Michigan.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

A new report says Missouri's jobless rate edged lower last month despite a net loss of jobs.

The state Department of Economic Development said Friday that seasonally adjusted unemployment fell by one-tenth of a point in September to 8.7 percent.

The agency also says Missouri had a net loss of 4,000 nonfarm jobs in September. The biggest losses were in retail trade, financial activities, professional and business services and government.

Jobs were added in other sectors, including health care and social assistance, which grew by 3,300 jobs.

(via Mercy)

A "first-of-its-kind in the country" virtual care center" in Chesterfield is just one part of a plan announced by Mercy Tuesday to invest $2.4 billion into the St. Louis area.

The care center and additional investment are portions of a $4.6 billion all-Missouri health care investment initiative from Mercy, designed to distribute the investments over the next eight years.

(via Flickr/Shoshanah)

Chesterfield will join Kansas City, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and several other cities when an American Girl "experiential retail store" opens in the St. Louis suburb in spring 2012.

The official announcement came from American Girl Tuesday.

Visitors to the 10,850-square-foot store at the Chesterfield Mall will be able to purchase American Girl's line of dolls and books, take their dolls in for a haircut at a "doll hair salon," make doll-sized t-shirts and eat in an in-store "bistro," a release from the company said.

(Courtesy of EWB Development)

Details of a new outlet mall in the Chesterfield Valley were released today. The Spirit of St. Louis Outlets would be located on 55 acres about four miles west of Chesterfield Commons on the south side of Interstate-64 near the Spirit Airport. Officials say the $85-million, 555,000-square-foot development would create more than 2,500 jobs and generate $265 million in annual sales.

Stephen Coslik, CEO of Woodmont Outlets, says the location is perfect – it’s underserved by outlet stores and there’s access to the interstate.

(via Arch Coal)

Updated 1:02 p.m. with company comment

Arch Coal Inc. will pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit over selenium pollution in West Virginia waterways.

The environmental groups that sued last year say the deal holds the St. Louis-based company responsible for past damage and prevents more.

Arch spokeswoman Kim Link said Monday the case involves five discharge points and subsidiaries Coal-Mac Inc. and Mingo Logan Coal Co.

She says Arch will install treatment systems and take other precautions to ensure consistent compliance with pollution limits.

(via Flickr/bigburpsx3)

Missouri voters could be asked to raise the state's minimum wage to $8.25 an hour.

A group that backed a successful wage increase in the 2006 elections is now pushing to get the minimum wage issue back on the ballot in Missouri's 2012 elections.

An open-records request from The Associated Press shows that the minimum wage initiative already has been submitted to the secretary of state's office, which must approve a ballot title before supporters can begin gathering signatures.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

An audit shows that a southwestern Illinois airport that's never turned a profit since opening with great fanfare 13 years ago continues to lose money.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the review by J.W. Boyle & Co. found that MidAmerica St. Louis Airport had an operating loss of $11.9 million in 2010. That's 4.3 percent less than the previous year.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Reporting from KCUR's Elana Gordon used in this report.

Missouri has received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train more than 4,000 underemployed adults in the health services sector.  Governor Jay Nixon led the effort to bring the funds to the state’s 12 or so community colleges.  Deborah Goodall is with Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City and said the grant will help equip adults with high demand health care skills.  

File photo

The growing chorus of voices complaining about the fate of a half-built plant in Moberly, Missouri, is getting louder.

Today, Missouri's Attorney General chimed in, saying that his office would investigate whether the Mamtek USA project violated any state civil or criminal laws.

(via Flickr/Andrea_44)

Gov. Jay Nixon says he is strongly encouraged by news that General Motors may expand its factory in the eastern Missouri city of Wentzville.

The United Auto Workers said Tuesday that GM plans to invest $380 million and bring 1,850 new jobs to the Wentzville plant as part of a proposed contact deal with the labor union. Plans call for the addition of a second shift to produce full-size vans. The factory also would start making a midsize pickup truck.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Gov. Pat Quinn has announced two business agreements between Chinese and American companies.

Quinn was in Beijing during an eight-day trade mission Monday.

He says China-based Goldwind plans to build a $200 million wind farm in Lee County in north-central Illinois. Construction on the Shady Oaks project begins this fall.

President Obama this morning outlines a deficit-reduction plan that his economists say would reduce anticipated federal budget deficits by about $4 trillion over the next decade.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Illinois' unemployment rate shot up almost half a percentage point in August to 9.9 percent. And state officials are blaming the continuing struggles of the national economy and weak consumer confidence.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that Illinois' unemployment rate surged from 9.5 percent in July.

(via Flickr/LarimdaME)

Updated 2:46 p.m. with additional contextual information

A newly released report shows that nearly 15 percent of people in Missouri are poor.

The Census Bureau's annual report released Tuesday offers a snapshot of the economic well-being of U.S. households for 2010, when joblessness hovered above 9 percent for a second year.

Nationally, nearly 1 in 6 people were classified as poor.

Meanwhile, the share of Americans without health coverage rose from 16.1 percent to 16.3 percent - or 49.9 million people - after the Census Bureau made revisions to numbers of the uninsured. That is due mostly to continued losses of employer-provided health insurance in the weakened economy.

In Missouri, 14 percent of residents lacked insurance.

But how does today's data compare with the numbers in years prior?

Part of an ongoing series.

Like some 14 million Americans, the people in our series The Road Back to Work started the year unemployed and searching for a job.

Back in January, we gave six people, all living in St. Louis, Mo., digital recorders and asked them to document their experience as they went through the process of looking for a job.

Working, Still Struggling

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Senator Claire McCaskill says after a month of traveling to Missouri businesses she’ll introduce legislation to better enforce U.S. trade laws.

The Democrat says too many foreign companies are engaging in unfair trading practices, such as mislabeling products to avoid paying duties.

McCaskill says her bill will require all importers to have a physical address to ensure easier tracking and new shippers will be required to pay cash for duties instead of posting bonds that sometimes go unpaid.

Pages