Economy & Innovation

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

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 states 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. So the things that arent going to get done are major...

(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 hes done so. A lease agreement with the St. Louis Rams, who play in the Dome, requires the facility to be among the top 25 percent of all stadiums as measured by various criteria. If not, the Rams could break the lease after the 2014 season and...

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. The big issue that has really dinged the postal...

(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. By creating a qualified pool of minority and female workers well ensure that MSD has diversity on every project, not just some of...

(via Flickr/Hakan Dahlstrom)

Caesars Entertainment Corp. says it will sell its Harrahs 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. Penn...

(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. Its 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 Grants 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, were going to be working equally hard to try to continue to build Arch...

(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...

(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 Missouris 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. The increase of 4,800 nonfarm payroll jobs marks the third straight month that Missouris seasonally adjusted employment levels grew.

(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. The overall fare increase is about 3.8 percent, from the last fare increase which...

(via Flickr/KellyB)

Missouris 7.4 percent jobless rate is the lowest its been in more than three years - but thats bad news for about 9,000 of the states 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. But the state Department of Labor...

(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. Atkinson admitted in the courtroom of Judge John Ross today that he and other company employees, including his brother Cory, employed a number of deceptive sales...

(St. Charles County Department of Corrections)

Updated at 4:08 with comments from Attorney General Koster and Darain Atkinsons attorney. Updated 3:58 with statement from the Better Business Bureau: US Fidelis left a trail of dissatisfied consumers from across the United States. Todays 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...

(CIA World Factbook)

Reporting from KSMUs 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. The governor will travel with a delegation of business leaders hoping to expand their exports to the South American nation. According to the governors office, several Missouri businesses are expected to negotiate contracts...

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 4:26 p.m. to correct name of Jennifer Mallons association. It is the National Community Pharmacists Association, not the National Association of Community Pharmacies. Federal regulators have approved the $29.1 billion merger between pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco. The Federal Trade Commission announced this morning that it had closed an eight-month investigation into the merger between two of the countrys largest PBMs. The vote to close the investigation was 3...


View Larger Map The Doe Run Co. says production of primary lead at its smelter in the eastern Missouri town of Herculaneum will be suspended for four to six weeks following a fire. The fire on March 20 occurred at the smelters electric substation. Doe Run Primary Smelting Division general manager Gary Hughes says damage to the substation is significant.

KellyB. | Flickr

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the states unemployment rate dropped in February for the sixth-straight month. The department says the February jobless rate fell to 9.1 percent from 9.4 percent in January. Thats still much higher than the national 8.3 percent rate. Department Director Jay Rowell calls the drop a sign that the state continues its steady recovery from recession. Illinois added 6,500 jobs in February. Thats almost double the 3,800 jobs added in January. The...

(via Flickr/KellyB)

Missouris unemployment rate fell slightly last month while the states overall payroll increased by a couple thousand jobs. The state Department of Economic Development reported Tuesday that Missouris jobless rate in February dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 7.4 percent, which is its lowest mark since late 2008. Economic development officials also say Missouris net nonfarm payroll increased by 2,300 jobs in February. This is the second straight month that Missouris payrolls have...

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Illinois added 3,800 jobs in January, and the state unemployment rate fell for the fifth straight month to 9.4 percent. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the 0.3 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate was the largest decline since September 1992. The agency says the number of unemployed people dropped by 18,100 in January to 620,300. Illinois has added 122,900 private sector jobs since January 2010, the first month that numbers increased after 23 consecutive months...

Joseph Leahy, St. Louis Public Radio

Consumer advocates are pressing Enterprise Rent-a-Car to support a bill to keep rental cars that are subject to federal recall off the road. Joan Bray of the Consumers Council of Missouri says while the St. Louis-based company has agreed in principle, it should endorse a Congressional amendment named for two sisters who were killed while driving a PT Cruiser under recall. What they said last week is that they would support congressional oversight, Bray said. And then they admitted that they...

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Missouris unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent while the states overall payroll increased by thousands of jobs. The state Department of Economic Development reported Tuesday that Missouris net nonfarm payroll increased by 21,100 jobs in January. Officials reported that Missouri had a net of loss of 11,800 jobs in December and a loss of 3,300 jobs in November. Besides expanding payrolls for the first time in three months, Missouris unemployment rate in January dropped by half a point to 7.5...

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)

Shell Oil Co. plans to close its oil blending and packaging plant in Roxana, where Shell began operations in 1918. A company spokeswoman says the Wood River Blending Plant is closing because it needs major upgrades and because it is on property Shell doesnt own. The closure of the Shell Lubricants site will result in the loss of more than 80 jobs in Roxana, just east of St. Louis. The company says it will also close its regional distribution center in OFallon, Mo., which employs more than a...

Panera Bread plans to add two more pay-what-you-want cafes later this year, part of the companys effort to help feed the hungry in a dignified way. Panera spokeswoman Kate Antonacci said Thursday that the specific locations wont be announced until spring. One could open by summer, the other in the fall. A third site is also being considered for later this year. Panera opened its first pay-what-you-want cafe in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton in 2010. Two others have followed, one in Portland,...

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Following a back-and-forth in which the St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission discussed whether or not the Rams plan to play several regular season home games in London over the next three years was a violation of the teams lease in the Edward Jones Dome, the two parties seem to have reached an agreement. The CVC announced via a press release Tuesday that, per the agreement, the Rams will be allowed to play one regular season game in London during the 2012...

Anheuser-Busch announced Monday that it plans to increase production at its Metal Container Corporation in Arnold, resulting in at least 20 new jobs there. Metal Container Corporation supplies more than 45 percent of the beer brewers beer cans and 55 percent of its lids in the United States. It also produces cans and lids for soft drink companies, including PepsiCo and Monster Beverage Corporation. The expansion announced Monday will add about 100,000 square feet to the Arnold facility. Its...

(via Gov. Nixon's office / video screen capture)

Updated 1:49 p.m. with additional information from the Associated Press on other failed appointments. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced this morning that Jason Hall, Nixons nominee to be the new director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, has resigned. Halls resignation comes after the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee refused to vote Wednesday on confirming Jason Hall to head the department. The constitutional deadline to confirm Hall then expired. With his strong...

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission is proposing $124 million in improvements to the Edward Jones Dome in hopes of keeping the Rams in St. Louis. A lease agreement with the team requires the dome to be among the top 25 percent of all stadiums as measured by various criteria. If not, the Rams could break the lease after the 2014 season and potentially move. Owner Stan Kroenke has been non-committal about keeping the Rams in St. Louis. The CVC plan includes adding 1,500 new club...

Dome deadline arrives

Jan 31, 2012
(via Wikimedia Commons)

The deadline for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission to give the Rams a plan for updating the Edward Jones Dome is Wednesday. The Rams lease allows the team to leave in 2015 if the Dome isnt in the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums. But since the Domes construction in 1995 several impressive stadiums have been built such as the more than a billion dollar Cowboys Stadium. Sports economist Patrick Rishe, a professor at Webster University, says it would take hundreds of millions of...

(Courtesy Solutia)

Specialty chemical company Eastman Chemical Co. is buying Solutia Inc. in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $3.38 billion to broaden its presence into emerging markets and expand its product offerings. The companies value the deal, including debt, at about $4.7 billion. Solutia shareholders will receive $22 in cash and 0.12 shares of Eastman stock for each share of Solutia that they own. Based on Thursdays closing prices, Solutia shareholders will receive cash and stock valued at $27.65...

Ten grants are up for grabs for new businesses that set up shop in St. Louis. A local non-profit, Arch Grants, says it will award the $50,000 grants this May in an effort to bring innovative businesses to the city. Arch Grants Co-founder Joe Schlafly said the for-profit start-ups that are selected will be required to stay for at least one year. St. Louis is not a dog-meat, down place, Schlafly said. It is a place where things are happening. Were open for business. We want to be on the short...

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