Economy & Innovation

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

(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.

(via Flickr/ChrisYunker)

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.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

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.