Economy & Innovation

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

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. We’re open for business. We want to be on the short list, not just [on] no list.”

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Gov. Jay Nixon wants to offer larger incentives to a wider variety of automobile parts suppliers as part of a plan to rebuild the automotive industry in Missouri.

Nixon's administration provided details to The Associated Press of a plan the governor has been touting in broad terms for the past couple of weeks.

Nixon is seeking to expand special automotive industry incentives approved in 2010 that have been used to persuade Ford and General Motors to expand operations at Missouri plants. The 2010 law also authorized incentives for suppliers to automakers.

(Courtesy of The Hauser Group)

Jerry Clinton, a longtime St. Louis business leader and philanthropist, has died.

A spokeswoman for Clinton says he died Wednesday morning. He was 74 and had cancer.

Clinton was the former president and owner of Grey Eagle Distributors. He sold the company in 2005.

Clinton was instrumental in the effort to bring an expansion football team to St. Louis after the Cardinals left for Arizona in 1988. The effort was unsuccessful, though the Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles in 1994.

(via Flickr/The Consumerist)

If you've noticed your grocery bill has gotten higher lately, you're not imagining things.

Food prices in Missouri rose in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Missouri Farm Bureau's year-end Marketbasket Survey.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

An Illinois Congressman and US transportation officials are talking up a Granite City river port to a Chinese delegation exploring new trade routes to the American market.

Congressman Jerry Costello touted the access America's Central Port has to railroads and highways during a visit from China's Vice Minister of Maritime Affairs, Xu Zuyuan.

Costello said a harbor to be completed next year will give a strategic advantage in moving imports and exports.

(via William K Busch Brewing Company)

If you've been driving on any of the highways around St. Louis lately you have probably noticed several new green billboards advertising Kräftig beer. Kräftig is brewed by the William K Busch Brewing Company, a new brewery started by Billy Busch, the great grandson of Adolphus Busch. As David Weinberg reports, Billy Busch is hoping his new business is start of the next chapter in the Busch family brewing legacy.

(via Flickr/nan palmero)

Updated 5:05 p.m. with more information, comment

Schlafly Beer's parent company, St. Louis Brewing Inc., is selling 60 percent of its ownership interest to the local investor group Sage Capital.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Are you sick of those sometimes daily phone calls from "Rachel from Cardholder Services" promising lower rates on your credit card — especially if you've already signed up on the national Do Not Call registry? If so, you're not alone. The Federal Trade Commission is trying to crack down on these telemarketers. In the meantime, one Beacon reporter has a message for Rachel: Stop calling.

Dear Rachel from Cardholder Services:

Stop calling me.

(via Flichr/justj0000lie)


The Sears in Crestwood Court will be among the 100 to 120 stores the company is closing following disappointing holiday sales.

The company released a list Thursday of 79 Sears and Kmart stores to be shuttered across the country.

The company announced the closings Tuesday. It provided no timeframe.

No Kmart stores will be closed in Missouri. The only other Sears to close in the state is in Lee’s Summit.

All Sears and Kmart stores in Illinois will also remain open for now.

(Air Force photo/Capt. Shannon Collins)

Updated at 11:45 a.m. with information from union spokesman Thomas Pinski.

Updated at 12 p.m. with statement from the White House.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. with comments from union president Gordon King and statement from Boeing.

The Obama administration has approved the sale of $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia - a move that could mean new jobs at Boeing's defense plant in Hazelwood.

(via Arch Coal)

A subsidiary of St. Louis-based Arch Coal has submitted a successful bid of just over $300 million for the right to mine more than 200 million tons of coal in northeast Wyoming.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced the sale Wednesday, saying the bid by Ark Land Company met or exceeded fair market value for the coal.

The 222 million tons of coal sits beneath more than three square miles of land next to the lease boundary of the Black Thunder Mine in the Powder River Basin.

Gateway ARch Sunshine
(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

As Dick Fleming prepares to leave the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association, and his successor Joe Reagan gets ready to move to town from Louisville, they both took time to join us today on St. Louis on the Air.  You can hear their entire conversation in the archives.  In the meantime, here are some highlights from our conversation with Reagan:

(Courtesty RCGA)

St. Louis on the Air will be talking about these recent developments at the RCGA on Wednesday. Join us!

The newest head of St. Louis' Regional Chamber and Growth Association comes to the St. Louis region by way of Louisville, Ky.

Joe Reagan, president of Greater Louisville, Inc. will be the RCGA's new president and CEO effective Feb. 1, 2012.

View Resource Management Co in a larger map

A suburban St. Louis company could face nearly $200,000 in fines after the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited 37 health and safety violations in an investigation that began after a fatal accident.

A worker at Resource Management died June 12 in an accident involving a baling machine at the recycling company.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Missouri lost 3,300 jobs in November but the state's jobless rate still dropped.

The Department of Economic Development reported Friday evening that the state's unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a point to 8.2 percent last month.

The decline in nonfarm employments comes after the state reported that it added about 1,100 jobs in October. However, the state reported a net loss of 4,000 nonfarm jobs in September.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis city and St. Louis County officials say they've gotten federal approval that will help local companies compete in the global market. The area's Foreign Trade Zone has expanded to include all of St. Louis County and City.

The expanded zone will allow more local manufacturing and distribution companies to import goods duty-free and avoid other customs fees.

Mayor Francis Slay announced the expansion at Sunset Transportation in south St. Louis. Slay says the approval from the US Department of Commerce also streamlines the time it takes for businesses to qualify.

Twelve former employees of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have sued the paper, saying corporate officials lied to them about the benefits the employees would receive after taking an early retirement offer in 2007.

(via Flickr/pasa47)

The owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced today that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, says it will allow the company to restructure its debt and exit bankruptcy within 60 days.

The company said in a press release that the filing would not affect employees, vendors and customers.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri officials have completed an agreement to boost exports and investment in northwestern China by $200 million.

Gov. Jay Nixon's office said Friday that the deal calls for state Department of Economic Development to work with officials in Xinjiang Uygur to increase Missouri exports from 2012 to 2014.

(Courtsey of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group)

Updated 5:01 p.m. with comment from EPA, and 6:05 with comment from Sean Thomas.

Old North St. Louis has won the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

(St. Louis Public Radio/Screen Capture)

Some retailers in Illinois are lobbying for E-fairness nationally; a move to require online vendors to charge sales tax just like brick-and-mortar businesses.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association helped push legislation through in Springfield this year to force remote online retailers with affiliates in the state to charge sales tax.

President and CEO David Vite says 18 e-commerce businesses have registered with the Illinois Department of Revenue since then bringing in $1.5 million.

Vite says the effort in Illinois helped spur a push for a federal law.

(via Flickr/Squash Valley Produce)

A St. Louis-based produce company is recalling some grape tomatoes that could potentially be contaminated with salmonella.

Front Row Produce says it is recalling 10-ounce pint and 10-pound bulk grape tomatoes supplied by Rio Queen Citrus of Mission, Texas. The recalled produce was distributed to foodservice distributors and retail stores in Missouri and Illinois.

No illnesses have been reported. Front Row Produce says contamination was discovered after random testing by Rio Queen Citrus.

ChrisYunker | via Flickr

The latest report by the Federal Reserve finds that there was slow to moderate growth in all the Federal Reserve districts, except St. Louis.

What’s known as the Beige Book, or a summary of current economic conditions, is published by the United States Federal Reserve Board eight times a year.

(via Flickr/350[sic])

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford used in this report.

Yet another change has been announced regarding the long awaited FutureGen coal project. Ameren's announcement over the summer that it was closing a coal fired power plant in Meredosia, Ill. was more than just a normal business decision.  It cast doubt on the FutureGen project since that Morgan County plant was to be retrofitted and used to demonstrate a different way to use coal. 

(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.