Economy & Innovation

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

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Thank you for joining us for the live broadcast of the President's remarks.

President Obama addressed the nation this afternoon regarding the current economic situation. You can review a live-blog of the President's speech via NPR's "The Two-Way."

St. Louis Convention & Visitor’s Commission

The City of St. Louis is hosting what tourism officials are calling the “Super Bowl of Conventions" this weekend.

The members of American Society of Association Executives are responsible for booking some $60 billion in convention activity annually.

All told, some 5,000 hospitality industry reps and executives will be in St. Louis from Saturday to Tuesday.  

The purpose of the convention is for those reps to try to convince 1,500 different associations to hold annual meetings in their city.

Update at 2:07 p.m. ET. President Signs Bill:

President Obama has signed into law a bi-partisan bill that raises the debt ceiling and avoids a government default that analysts as well as the White House warned could have had catastrophic effects on the American economy.

Earlier today, the Senate voted 74-26 to send the bill to the president's desk. The AP reports Obama signed the bill privately in the Oval Office.

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SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center - one of the hospitals in SSM Health Care's St. Louis-area group of medical facilities.

For the first time in its 25-year history, SSM Health Care no longer has a nun as its top executive officer.

Sister Mary Jean Ryan will remain as chairman of the board of SSM. But she says she's reaching an age, 73, when she would prefer to step away from the day-to-day operations of the system, which owns 15 hospitals and two nursing homes in four states, including Missouri.

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

It was once the region's largest shopping mall. Some even billed it as the largest mall in the world.

Now, the vacant Northwest Plaza in St. Ann is up for sale by a group of lenders who need to get the 122-acre, 1.8 million square foot site off their books by 2012.

(via Flickr/roberthuffstutter)

After years of drought, barge operators along the Missouri River got more rain than they had hoped for this year.

The industry had grown optimistic when rising river levels appeared to promise an increase in barge traffic this year. The Missouri Department of Transportation even projected a 15 percent to 20 percent increase.

But then the rains started, causing flooding along the 675-mile stretch from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis. That prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to close the river between Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota and Glasgow, Mo.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Two of the nation's largest pharmacy benefits management companies could become one in the first six months of next year.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Unemployment in Illinois increased to 9.2 percent in June, the second straight month the state jobless rate increased.

The state Department of Employment Security on Thursday laid part of the blame on weak consumer confidence they said was hindering the national economy.

The national unemployment rate hit also 9.2 percent in June. That was up from 9.1 percent.

(via Flickr/dbking)

Updated 5:26 p.m. with further detail and comment from lawmakers

Updated 2:24 p.m. with statement from office of Gov. Nixon on special session

A statement issued today from Scott Holste, a spokesperson for Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon, announces that the governor will call the Missouri legislature into special session.

The date of the special session has not been determined.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 7:51 p.m.

A letter from Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon circulated around Twitter this afternoon, and hosted on the Missouri Chamber of Commerce's website, states that Nixon will be leading a Missouri delegation to China "later this year."

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nixon's office has confirmed that the trip is in the works.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

The unemployment rate in Missouri ticked down slightly last month, according to new data from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Missouri's rate last month was 8.8 percent, down from 8.9 percent in May 2011, and a sharp decrease from June 2010, when 9.2 percent of the state's citizen's were out of work.

The national rate for June stood at 9.2 percent.

(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.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

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:

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.

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